Category Archives: Art

Artist Joel Stewart – Open Studio August 16-17

Kamigamo-1

“Kamigamo” by Joel Stewart

Our friend, the artist Joel Stewart, will have an open studio this Saturday and Sunday from 2pm – 6pm(ish), with a small sampling of prints and paintings from his collection. Says Joel, “Small works available starting in the Y10,000 range. Feel free to come by for a chat, a cool sip of tea and a browse….
Dates & Times: August 16th & 17th, 2pm – 6pm
Address: 41 Nishimomo no moto cho, Shichiku, Kita-ku, Kyoto, 603-8208. Tel
Joel’s Studio is two streets south of Kitayama Street and one street east of Omiya on the south side of Shichiku-kita Dori. “Look for the business sign on south side of street half way down that says:谷田工務店。My rickety old gate leading back off the street is right next door.”
Here is a MAP.
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Daijoubu! Photography & Kansai’s International Portrait Project

kansai-int-projectsmallA message from Javier Montaño of Daijoubu! Photography:

Are you a foreigner living in Japan? Would you like to have a professional take your portrait for free? Then this may be your chance. Three people from Kansai will be selected based on an interesting photo idea they submit.

Just imagine a place where you would like your photo taken, decide what kind of clothes you would wear in the atmosphere of your choice. If you are selected we will work it out to make your dream a reality.

All you have to do is send your information and explain your concept in 50 words or less by using the form at the end of this page. The better the idea the greater the chance to win!

Submissions will be accepted until July 31, 2014. The winners will have their portraits taken somewhere between August and October.

For full details and an application form please visit http://www.javiermontano.net/kp/

Honke Owariya with Sean Lotman

2014-06-15 15.25.25 (Medium)
On Sunday Mewby and I had the pleasure of lunch with writer/photographer Sean Lotman. Sean’s wife manages the Honke Owariya soba noodle business, a family company which is pretty famous in Kyoto.  The business actually dates from 1465, though they “only” started making noodles Sean told me about 300 or 400 years ago, as they were originally a confectionary business.  They still make confectionary but it is the noodles that have made it famous. We met up with Sean at the main branch of Honke Owariya, a delightful old traditional Kyoto building for a stimulating lunch of hearty food and good conversation in beautiful surrounds. Continue reading

Noh by Torchlight – Takigi Noh

I just got tickets for the torchlight Takigi Noh performance at Heian Jingu this Sunday. Since March Mewby and I have been occasionally attending Noh performances at the Kanze Kaikan. Noh is of course notorious for sending people off to sleep, but our experience is that if you have a script to read along then it can be enthralling. Fortunately I was able to find the scripts for three of Sunday’s plays, Takasago, Matsukaze, and Shakkyō on the能.com. This will be our first time to try Takigi Noh so I’m quite excited!

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Here’s what John Dougill wrote about Takigi Noh on this very blog back in 2010:

For many people Noh is a turn-off. The plays have no conflict, no humour and no facial expression. Actors move at a snail’s pace, the language is arcane and the music archaic. To its detractors it’s simply an outmoded relic of medieval times. Noh way, Noh thank you.

There are regular performances in Kyoto, and if you attend you’ll find a good number of the audience asleep. One top performer told me he would do the same if he were watching rather than on stage! It’s very much an acquired taste, for knowledge is needed of the crafts and skills to truly appreciate them. The types of play and their ethereal nature, for example. The stately movement of the actors. The exquisite quality of the costumes. The almost sacred nature of the masks. The musical form. It’s an art form for connoisseurs.

Once a year, however, Kyoto offers an opportunity to enjoy Noh in a different light, when an outdoor show in the atmospheric surrounds of the Heian Shrine brings the plays to life in spectacular style. With over 3000 expectant people packed into the courtyard, the event begins in daylight with robed figures gliding towards an open stage accompanied by the peculiar ‘ya-oh’ chants of a drummer and the piercing sound of a flute.

At 6.30 priests emerge to light the braziers and as darkness descends, the illuminated shrine buildings provide a decorative backdrop. A rustling of the curtain and a masked figure enters, dressed in the most gorgeous of robes. In the deepening darkness the effect is eerie. The visual splendour, the ethereal music, the rising moon over the eastern hills combine to produce a sense of theatrical wonder.

With its masks, chorus, music and all-male cast, Noh is sometimes compared to the drama of ancient Greece. Viewed at the Heian Shrine, however, it has something of the great religious dramas of South-east Asia, such as the Balinese beach performances of the Ramayana. The event started as a revival of an older tradition and has been held every year since 1949. It proved such a success that it spawned some two hundred similar events around Japan. Why not give it a go? You might have thought you weren’t the type to go to Noh, but I can guarantee this is one performance you won’t be sleeping through.

Location: Heian Jingu Shrine (may be postponed in case of rain)
Dates: June 1 (Sun), June 2 (Mon) from 5.30 to around 8:45 (Gate opens at 4.30)
Cost: Y4000 at the gate (Y3000 in advance)
Recommended to take a sweater or light jacket for later in the evening
Schedule: Different plays are scheduled for each day – you can see the schedule here: http://www.kyoto-kanze.jp/takiginoh/takiginh65-program.htm
Inquiries (in Japanese): The Kyoto Takigi-noh Office 075-771-6114

Diego Pellechia has some more details about the performances up on his site The Noh Diaries.

John Dougill is professor of British Studies at Kyoto’s Ryukoku University and the author of Kyoto: A Cultural History and In Search of the Hidden Christians. He is also a contributor to our book, Deep Kyoto: Walks.

Learn more:
Japanese Noh: Performances for the Gods
the 能.com probably has pretty much everything you need to get started with Noh drama…

The 3rd Kyoto Photo Walk – June 1st at Nanzen-ji

Photo Walk

By popular demand the third Kyoto Photo Walk will take place on Sunday June 1st at Nanzen-ji. It’s a good opportunity to socialize and pick-up some tips on how to shoot…

Details:
Time: 3-6pm
Meet-up: Keage Station (Tozai Line) entrance at 3pm
Bring: A camera or even just an i-phone.

All welcome!
For more details please check the Daijobu! Photography page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Daijoubuphotography

Deep Kyoto: Walks ~ Meet the Artists

As the release of our ebook, Deep Kyoto: Walks rapidly approaches I would like to introduce the two artists who have kindly taken part in this exciting collaboration.

Sarah

Myself and Sarah Brayer at her Kyoto exhibition in 2011.

The beautiful cover art for our book is from Sarah Brayer’s painting Blue Kyoto. Sarah Brayer is known internationally for her poured washi paperworks and aquatint prints. In 2013 Japan’s Ministry of Culture awarded her the Commisioner’s Award ( Bunkasho Chokan) for her original creations in Japanese washi. Drawn to Japanese art through raku-style ceramics and the aquatints of Mary Cassatt, Sarah came to Japan with a backpack in hand in 1979. In 1986 she opened her own print studio in an old kimono weaving factory in Kyoto. Brayer first encountered poured washi — the technique she soon adopted — during a visit to New York in 1986. This somewhat unpredictable, technique seemed a perfect blend of chance and design, leading her to the ancient Japanese paper center of Echizen to experiment with large-scale poured-paper images. In 1992, she was the first artist ever invited to exhibit at Byodoin Temple, a World Heritage site as part of Kyoto’s 1200-year celebration. Residing in Kyoto since 1980, Sarah divides her working time among Kyoto, Echizen, and New York City. Her art is in the collections of the British Museum, the Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian, and the American Embassy, Tokyo.

richard

Richard and his work.

Within the book we also have a specially commissioned wood block print of Mt. Daimonji in flames, by Richard Keith Steiner. The piece is entitled Abiding. “Richard Keith Steiner was born just before the war. Choose any war you like. This happy event occurred in The States. His early education was noted for its commonness. University was quite different, and deserves its own interpretation elsewhere. After an anonymous career as a fashion photographer in NYC failed, he changed his name to what it is today and fled to Japan in 1970. Disguised as an english teacher in Hiroshima, he met the well-known print teacher, Masahiko Tokumitsu and began studying woodblock printmaking. After a 10-year period, he received his teacher’s license and his artist’s name TOSAI. He had moved to Kyoto in the meantime, where he set up his workshop/studio/school and has been teaching mokuhanga ever since. His homepage is: www.richard-steiner.net. His wife is the art and meditation translator, Kimiko Steiner.”

DeepKyoto-cover-0423-finalTo learn more about these artists please visit their websites:
http://sarahbrayer.com/
http://www.richard-steiner.net/
See also my article: Capturing Light: The Art of Sarah Brayer

Now, I bet you’d like to know who our writers are, wouldn’t you?

More details about our exciting new publication Deep Kyoto: Walks will be posted on this website soon!

Hibiku: A Photographic Experiment at Cafe Foodelica, Kyoto; April 17th – May 11th 2014

14 artists. 28 images. 8 nationalities. Anonymous ‘seed’ photos are met with visual responses. A strange amalgam ensues.

Hibiku

The Hibiku 響 photo exhibition opened at Cafe Foodelica in Shugakuin, Kyoto on Thursday April 17th and continues until Sunday May 11th inclusive. Admission is free, though guests are requested to sample some of the Cafe’s fantastic food & drinks.
The opening party is on April 19th (Saturday) from 7pm – 10pm (last food order 9pm),  and the Meet the Artists night is on the following Saturday (26th) from 6.30 – 10pm. All welcome.
Location: Cafe Foodelica is easy to find, just a short walk West from the junction of Kitayama and Kitashitakawa streets in Shugakuin. Alternatively, walk East from Shugakuin station on the Eiden line, for just two minutes. Look for the red door. If you are coming by bus (#5, 北8) get off at Shugakuinmichi.
Here is a MAP.

From the Hibiku blog:

‘Seed and Response’
The process of creating the exhibit was integral to the project. We all selected ‘seed’ photographs, taken by ourselves, and placed them in untitled brown envelopes, shuffled them up, and received them at random from the pile. It then became our task to respond to those images photographically. When we come to hang the show in April, the seed and response images will be displayed alongside each other, with some textual comment on how and why we responded as we did. we were inspired to do this, to some degree, by poetry and the ‘call-response’ and ‘renga linked poetry’ genres, and a strong desire to explore new avenues of creativity.

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See also: http://hibikuatfoodelica.wordpress.com/

The Ryōzen Kannon, Kyoto, 1958

…suppose there are immeasurable hundreds, thousands, ten thousands, millions of living beings who are undergoing various trials and suffering. If they hear of this Bodhisattva Perceiver of the Word’s Sounds and single-mindedly call his name, then at once he will perceive the sound of their voices and they will all gain deliverance from their trials. If someone, holding fast to the name of bodhisattva perceiver of the world’s sounds, should enter a great fire, the fire could not burn him. This would come about because of this bodhisattva’s authority and supernatural power. If one were washed away by a great flood and call upon his name, one would immediately find himself in a shallow place… – from the Lotus Sutra Chapter 25 translated by Burton Watson

Buddhist goddess of Mercy Statue in Kyoto, Japan on May 11, 1958, after the unveiling of a memorial to Allied dead of World War II on June 8.

“Some 50 colorfully-garbed Buddhist monks march from the Buddhist goddess of Mercy Statue in Kyoto, Japan on May 11, 1958, after the unveiling of a memorial to Allied dead of World War II on June 8. A white marble tablet, honoring more than 48,000 soldiers who died fighting against Japan, was uncovered in base of the 80-foot-high statue. The Buddha is dedicated to the more than one million Japanese who perished in the war.” (AP Photo)

I found the picture above in a collection of fascinating photographs showing life in 1950s Japan at The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2014/03/japan-in-the-1950s/100697/ It seemed like a timely discovery. Continue reading

Kyotographie: International Photography Festival 2014

“The KYOTOGRAPHIE International Photography Festival blossoms in Kyoto for its second year in April 2014…during the height of Kyotoʼs booming tourist season. The festival celebrates art and culture, bringing a distinct dimension to the historic city. KYOTOGRAPHIE creates opportunities and events that bring people together of all ages, cultures, and backgrounds. Situated in Kyotoʼs world-class atmosphere KYOTOGRAPHIE unites ancient history and contemporary art.”

Photo by Tim Flach

Photo by Tim Flach

This year’s Kyotographie photography fesitval runs for four weeks from April 19th to May 18th. Check the website to view the artists involved and the calendar of public programs!

http://www.kyotographie.jp/

First Impression – Daniel Kelly Exhibition at Hakuhou-Dou

Daniel Kelly’s exhibitions at Hakuhou-Dou have become an annual event!

daniel exhibition…And it seems only natural now, as the sakura blooms, that we celebrate the rites of spring at Daniel’s reception party. Here are the details!

First Impressions: April 1 – April 13 2014
Reception party Friday, April 4, 6:00 – 9:00pm
April 1 – 12, 11:00am – 7:00pm
April 13, 11:00am – 5:00pm
Closed Monday April 7

Hakuhou-doh is on the east side of Jingumichi, south of Niomon Dori. Here is a MAP.

Address: 〒606-8344
京都市左京区岡崎神宮道東側
TEL: 075-771-9401075-771-9401
URL: http://blog.goo.ne.jp/hakuhou-doh
Opening: 11:00~19:00
Closed: Mondays

To find out more about Daniel Kelly’s life and art read my article here, or take a look at his spiffy website here.