Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Snow-viewing doors

I visited the Hirose house today. This is a historic mansion that is now a park and museum. 
Hanami Flower Viewing has begun, and these trees are now at "sanbu zaki" or 30% bloom.  As soon as they start blooming people begin picnicking beneath's beautiful in Japan this time of year. See the picnickers?
This is a view from Hirose's "Smoke-viewing room."  He liked to watch the ships out there in the Seto-naikai Sea. My apartment is down there by the sea. You can see it if you know where to look.

In the stunning old Japanese house were a few glass windows, extremely rare to have in Japan in those days, and these here acted as the home’s yukimishoji, 雪見障子、which means: snow-viewing sliding doors.

“The glass protects you from the cold wind! Isn’t that wonderful?” Our guide was as excited as we were.

The glass was old and warped, which made the scene beyond look dreamy and drawn.

It made me think about art. People often experience paintings like a window, an opening into a soul. The viewers get to peer into these inner worlds from the safety of the gallery wall, or a couch in a living room. Paintings are like yukimishoji. The cold, biting winds of those subjective worlds don't make it in. Warm and safe behind slightly warped glass, we unflinchingly face the world beyond. I think of the gifts of dark, erotic arts, fantastic realists, surrealists. confronting the demons, the nightmares.
Facing your fears is easy with practice. Thats what the picture cards are for.

I guess we could say that painters, like actors, like shamans, like butoh dancers, go to those dark, inner worlds, and come back build a yukimishoji, and take the others there, safely.


Anonymous said...

Yeah I love Hanami. It is one of beautiful Japanese culture. So almost all parks have cherry trees.
By the way, you have to say "sanbu-zaki".

Mark Harman said...

I love reading your blog because I miss Japan so much! When you put pictures up of things you see there I am taken back to all my favorite places we went. I hope to go back sometime in the future.

- Mark

David said...

David my brother, lovely photos!
Lovely to see that spring has caught up with you ^^ Enjoy the picnic-tastic times ^^

May all beings be Free and in Love.

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