Day 2: First Artisan Visit!

Today we visited Miyamoto-san’s workshop in Arashiyama and learned about his approach and style when it comes to making Buddhist sculptures and statues. From hearing his story about how he feels when he works on his pieces it makes me think about how all artists have to relate to their work or its meaningless. Miyamoto-san even talked about the closing of the eyes ceremony that is necessary for Buddhist sculptures before he restores some pieces because you can feel the soul in them if you do not. He also went through the various mental processes that he goes through when restoring a piece because of how each part of the sculpture must be studied and replicated in order to preserve its nature.

Being on this trip reminds me of the beauty of the art I find in the various temples and shrines that I visit. They are someone’s handiwork, or maybe even a group since everything that is made for a shrine or temple has to be restored to maintain its beauty, that is transcending lifetimes. I always make jokes that something in my house is older than me because of my mom’s sentimental attachment to things, but when I see a small statue of perhaps Kannon or Shakyamuni that may look new, it could very well be older than generations upon generations of my family. I feel as though artists like Miyamoto-san are lost in the U.S. Tradition passed from master to student, respecting every single piece of your artwork; the wood it comes from, the care that goes into the tools needed to shape it, etc. I just hope more and more of the younger generations within Japan can see and experience how culturally valuable people like Miyamoto-san are. People like him are keeping huge parts of what makes Japanese culture alive and pervading.

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