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Japan tourism and Koyasan in Wakayama: Kukai, stunning scenery and Shingon Buddhism

Japan tourism and Koyasan in Wakayama: Kukai, stunning scenery and Shingon Buddhism

Olivier LeCourt and  Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Wakayama prefecture in Japan is blessed with stunning scenery throughout this adorable part of Japan. Equally important is the power of history, religion and culture in Wakayama because you have many national and regional treasures which beckon tourists and religious pilgrims alike to this lovely prefecture. In Koyasan you can feel the richness of Shingon Buddhism and the power of nature alongside stunning architecture. Therefore, it is easy to understand why Kukai picked this amazing place and it is nice to know that Koyasan is “a living Buddhism.”

Internationally, Kyoto is seen to be the cradle of high culture in Japan but actually this really belongs to Nara. After all, high culture was already flourishing before the power of Kyoto began because of the impact of Nara. Koyasan, just like Nara and Kyoto, is located in the Kansai region. Also, it is factual that Nara and Kyoto are much larger in terms of size and places to visit than Koyasan. However, the remoteness of Koyasan means that tourists and pilgrims flock to this stunning part of Wakayama. Given this reality, it is clear that Koyasan can’t be underestimated because of the power of Kukai and the richness of this exquisite part of Japan.

Zen Buddhism is internationally famous but in Koyasan it is the richness of Shingon Buddhism which thrives. It matters not if people are religious or not because when you visit Koyasan you can feel something special inside. This is because of the power of architecture, Buddhist temples, simplicity, “a living Buddhism” and the stunning views of nature which blesses Mount Koya in all directions.

The environment of Koyasan is extremely rich because of the layout and the abundance of temples to visit. Also, the main graveyard is extremely mysterious and many leading historical figures are buried in Koyasan. Another nice aspect is the environment whereby tradition alongside the yearning of normal tourists and religious pilgrims naturally flows.

Visual images of the Buddha mixed with the uniqueness of Shingon Buddhism is a real treat on the eye. This applies to the architecture and artistic aspects of everything that encompasses each amazing temple. Japanese gardens are equally famous and clearly the Buddhist concept of time and space can be felt deeply. The flow is so natural that lay people can feel the power and majesty of a faith which seeks a unique path along a complex road in this world.

In the world of monotheism the one God shows many sides and clearly you have various different sects. Likewise, in Buddhism you also have many different sects and in a sense religion is a mirror to what humanity is irrespective if good, mundane or where dark forces reign. Yet in Koyasan it appears that God’s Eden may exist because faith, philosophy, simplicity and nature come together.

In my earlier article by Modern Tokyo Times about beautiful Koyasan it was stated that “The non-religious may believe that God is an illusion and this may be so; however, in places like Koyasan you can feel “a magical atmosphere.” The “old world” survives within “modernity” but preserves its rich culture and maintains a rare spirituality.”

“Kukai (774-835) who became known as Kobo Daishi established the first monastery in the ninth century on mount Koya (Koya-san).  The Shingon sect had a different thought pattern within the many schools of Buddhism and Kukai believed that enlightenment could be attained in one lifetime.”

“Kukai was a searcher and he visited China and during his stay he studied Esoteric Buddhism.  Initially, he prayed for peace and prosperity because he could not find inner-peace within city life, therefore, he searched for a place where he could meditate and become even more spiritual.” 

“When Kukai saw the stunning nature of Koyasan it was clear to him that he had found the place which he desired.  The mountains meant that he was cut off from everyday city life in this period and the sublime beauty of nature added to the mysterious feel of Koyasan.”

The lovely aspect about Koyasan is that Shingon Buddhism in this amazing place is “a living Buddhism” whereby the rich traditions continue to flourish. Buddhists and non-Buddhists will adore this lovely part of Wakayama prefecture because Mount Koya is extremely beautiful. Therefore, the vibrancy of culture, architecture and religion all pull naturally together.

It is clear that when Kukai searched long and hard to find a special place to spread his teachings, that he made the right choice. The remoteness of Koyasan during his lifetime must have provided great insights into this world. Of course, according to legend Kukai is still wondering around Koyasan after being transformed into an eternal Samadhi whereby he is waiting for the next Buddha Maitreya to appear.

Therefore, if you are looking for a special break then Koyasan should come to the top of your must places to visit. Without a shadow of a doubt this mystical place is extremely charming and the cultural and religious angle completes a perfect break for people who appreciate the finer things in life.

http://www.shukubo.jp/eng /  (stunning Koyasan)

http://www.koyasan.org/          (Information about Koyasn)

http://www.visiblemantra.org/kukai.html  Kukai and information

http://ww2.coastal.edu/rgreen/  Kukai and information

 

leejay@moderntokyotimes.com

http://moderntokyotimes.com

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Posted by on September 5, 2012 in Japan

 

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Pola Museum of Art in stunning Hakone: Picasso and the Pola Collection

Pola Museum of Art in stunning Hakone: Picasso and the Pola Collection

Sarah Deschamps and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Pola Museum of Art (http://www.polamuseum.or.jp/english/in stunning Hakone is once more providing another beautiful collection to enjoy. This delightful and cultural museum is following on from the last beautiful exhibition which highlighted The Development of Impressionism: Monet, Renoir, and the Next Generations. Therefore, while this exhibition is now finished you now have another stunning exhibition titledPicasso and the Pola Collection (1st Period) which runs between July 14 and October 2, 2012.

If individuals have never been to Hakone then this place is truly magical and within reasonable distance from Tokyo. Indeed, for people who reside in Japan then visiting once isn’t enough because you have so many options available.

This applies to the stunning views which can be witnessed in all directions. The amazing natural beauty of the countryside and spectacular views of Mount Fuji from various vantage points is a wonder to behold. On top of this is the cultural side to Hakone because you have so many different galleries and cultural themes to visit. Therefore, Hakone is a place to enjoy the beautiful mountain landscapes and to connect with Japanese culture.

In total you have three exhibitions being linked together but which will be exhibited at different times. The second exhibition is called Monet and the Pola Collection (2nd Period) which runs from October 5, 2012 to February 26, 2013. This will be followed by the final and third exhibition titled Sugiyama Yasushi and the Pola Collection (3rd Period) which will be held from March 1, 2013 to July 7, 2013.

The binding theme of all three exhibitions is Suzuki Tsuneshi (1930-2000). This can be seen by the title called Looking for Beauty: Art Collector Suzuki Tsuneshi. In total Suzuki Tsuneshi graced the world of art by collecting countless stunning pieces of art over a period of 40 years.

On the Pola Museum of Art website it is stated that Suzuki Tsuneshi (1930 – 2000), son of the founder of Pola Orbis Group, assembled the works in the Pola Museum of Art collection over a period of 40 years. In all, there are around 9500 works, representing a range of genres, including modern European painting, modern Japanese Western-style painting, contemporary nihonga (Japanese-style painting), prints, sculpture, Oriental ceramics, modern and contemporary Japanese ceramics, glasswork, and cosmetic utensils.”

“The Pola Museum of Art collection, recognized as the largest, in both diversity and quality, by a Japanese post-war private collector, was created almost entirely by Suzuki Tsuneshi, a reserved person who talked little about the artworks or his collecting activities. Since the Museum’s opening, we have been interacting with the collection and making efforts to understand the artistic sense of this unassuming man. By analyzing works that strongly relate to Suzuki as an individual and as a public figure, this 10th anniversary exhibition aims to explore how Suzuki built up the collection. Further, the exhibition introduces cultural activities Suzuki Tsuneshi engaged in.”

The exhibition titled Picasso and the Pola Collection (1st Period) highlights the work of various fabulous artists who have blessed the art world. A partial list of artists highlighted in this exhibition applies to Pablo Picasso, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Okada Saburosuke, Georges Seurat, Sugiyama Yasushi, Emile Galle, Oka Shikanosuke, Henri Rousseau, Odilon Redon, Georges Henri Rouault, Maurice de Vlaminck, Kees van Dongen, Maurice Utrillo, Leonard Foujita, Oguiss Takanori, Kishida Ryusei and others.

It is clear by the list above that you have a rich mixture of Japanese and Western artists. Also, the different styles are another attraction and clearly Oka Shikanosuke and Henri Rousseau flow naturally together. Therefore, the exhibition is a must place to visit for people who adore art.

Also, within the museum you can eat delicious European cuisine and enjoy the stunning scenery. For individuals who prefer something more casual then people can enjoy tea, coffee and snacks. Another added bonus is the Museum Shop which is a lovely place to browse around and buy delightful products.

In another article about the beautiful nature of Hakone and the cultural angle of this amazing place it was stated by Modern Tokyo Times that “Hakone is situated in the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park and the entire region is a tourist paradise whereby stunning nature is in all directions and you have so many cultural treasures to view. This notably applies to the Narukawa Art Museum for modern Japanese paintings; the Hakone Open Air Museum; the Pola Museum of Art; Venetian Glass Museum; Suzuhiro Corp. Kamaboko Museum; volcanically active Owakudani geysers; Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands; Odawara Castle Donjon; Local History Museum; Museum of Saint Exupery and the Little Pince in Hakone; Hakone Old Takaido Road Museum; Hakone Mononofu-no-Sato Art Museum; Hakone Art Museum; Honma Yosegi Museum; Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Natural History; and you have a wealth of parks and special walks to go on.” 

If individuals are lucky then it is highly recommended to stay for a few days in beautiful Hakone and enjoy the best of stunning nature and the array of culture provided. Of course, the Pola Museum of Art is a must place to visit because of the delightful exhibitions they provide. Also, the express train from Tokyo to Hakone doesn’t take so long and the Odakyu Train Group provides a fantastic transport service if you buy a special pass.

http://www.polamuseum.or.jp/english/index.php  Pola Museum of Art

http://moderntokyotimes.com/2012/02/29/japan-tourism-and-culture-hakone-jinja-historical-treasure-museum-and-mount-fuji/

 

Images in this article relate to the artists who will be highlighted and not to any specific art pieces which will be part of the exhibition.  Please view the website of the Pola Museum of Art to find out more.

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2012 in EUROPE, Japan

 

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