After sailing we spent a few days with Melissa in Yawatahama. There she is cutting Takashi's hair. Man we had so much fun!!!
This samurai greeted us at the super market.
I went to Komatsu to stay with Mika and her family. Here are few of the guests at Ike-san. The Kuroki family I stayed with run this old-folks home/dying center in their town. It is heaven on earth, or as they say, at least very close to heaven.
The Kuroki family makes their own pickled plums, which are my favorite Japanese treat. The purple leaf is red shiso. Here are a few jugs pickling by the window.
The game Go sitting in the shrine room.
I gave him those glasses...
The family lives in the most beautiful area in an old house I helped them restore last year. This is all their land.
This origami is a German-Japanese mix, actually. The paper turns into designs meant to be seen on windows. Astounding. I found the book Magical WIndow Stars online that might explain how to do it....
Kanta, their oldest son, and I visited a shrine. Grandfather then gave us this dead bug he found in the garden. The underside was even more magnificent.
Across the street, a japanese mini-forest! I'ts pretty convincing if you cover the top half and look only at the bottom, isn't it? This is a field of bonsai trees.
Here I am with Daisuke, one of my heroes. He is my age, and is the director of the old-folks' home "Ike-san" and has a humongous, powerful heart. The entire family is enlightened, if you ask me. Running the happiest, most wonderful neighborhood dying center, whose motto is "No Laugh, No Life" will do that to you, no doubt.
Family dinner. Most all of the food was grown by the man in center or by other family/community members, "with love" they would say.
Breakfast for the baby. Those rice balls are in the shape of hearts.
Kanta calling the sprits. He took Caleb and I to his favorite shrine near his house.
I want to paint this.
Tiny shrines behind the main one.
We found this white, fluffy bug behind the shine. Caleb poked it gently and a tiny bit of its body came off. Suddenly all the ants around us went crazy, running every which way. They found the fluffy white bug and ripped it apart. "Wooly aphid! Ancient demon beasts."
Last year the enlightened father of the family planted two trees in honor of Terri and I. This is the sign for Terri's.
Here I am with Caleb at Ike-san.
The Kuroki family then took Caleb and I to a "power spot" deep in the mountains. At the base of the waterfall were hundreds of stone totems. The folk story goes that when children die they sometimes go to hell because they cause so much suffering up on earth, and the kids can build stone bridges out of hell, but demons come around and smash the bridges down. We can help the children in this world by stacking stones on top of each other. This sacred "power spot" was covered in these tiny stone offerings, evidence of people who have been there, and tiny works of art and concentration, all over the place. They kind of "consecrated" the space as sacred, and remind me of Kodama in Princess Mononoke.
The Kuroki family. I painted a small mural in their entryway.
After Komatsu I went with Caleb to a festival in Saijo, to watch Workaholics at his house, and to meet up with Hachidai. We also played frisbee next to this sexy sculpture at Saijo Library. This Adonis has no genitals though, which is kind of effective in evoking the phallus, if you know what i mean. By not depicting his penis, we can imagine one, and as Lacan points out the imaginary penis can function as a phallus...The "phallus" can move beyond a cylindrical or conic object and be anything that signifies power, ascension, mystery, life, a cosmic sense of appearing and disappearing, and it can therefor become the symbol for an "ultimate desire." Some say that the woman (or the feminine) IS the phallus (because she is the object of male desire and holds ultimate power) and that men feel they lack a phallus (because all we have is a penis, which pales in comparison) The masculine also tends to feel like it is powerless. This is why men must keep their genitals covered and out of the "periphic ring," of society; we have to protect the idea that the penis, aka the male body, holds the phallus and contains phallic power... I wrote a paper about just this topic...
After Saijo I went to an all-night long dj hippy rave in Takamatsu with my soul brother Junya, and here are some of the amazing people I got to spend the night with.Then I went to Kyoto and met up with two of my favorite people on earth, Shotaro and Daifuku.
can you find Daifuku?
Almost to the top of Fushimi-inari shrine.
The Window of Realization (satori no mado) in Kyoto.
The Window of Delusion, next to the Window of Realization. Realization, or Samadhi, or Nirvana, in Zen Buddhism, comes with an "unsticking" of the mind. The Circle represents emptiness, but also an endless, unobstructed flow. The circular window allows the mind to flow and skate along its edge, like a well-lubricated wheel, whereas the Window of Delusion has many corners and corridors in which the mind can get stuck.
Shotaro poking his head into the Window of Delusion.
Local vegetable vending machine in Kyoto. In the small towns of Japan there are just boxes with veggies and places to put money and its all the honor system.
Small festival in Kyoto.
Kids sleeping on the train.
KoyasanMy hat! I put this on Jizo four years ago.
Here is an "Ah-ji kan" class advertisement in the Mt. Kukai travel brochure. Call this number and reserve a spot to experience the secret esoteric practice of "Ah-looking." The painting is of the sanskrit character sitting on a lotus thrown in the center of a full moon. "The Ah represents the secret God." it says. "Understand that God = the entire cosmos, and 'You and the Universe become one'...."
This is the back of a book on Kukai's philosophy I found at a bookstore in Mt. Koya. Kukai remember is the first transmitter of tantric buddhism to Japan. He lived in the nineth century and also became THE Leonardo de Vinci--gay artist/scientist mystic saint--of Japan. If you read above, the key to Shingon "mantra-yana" buddhism, is similar to TM, I imagine, with the mantra in this case being the "Ah"... The Ah, Kukai says, is also one with the cosmic mind, Dainichi-nyorai aka Mahavirocana. It is the mantra that is, in itself, the cosmic buddha. The Ah is also the alpha, the first sound (also the first sound in the Japanese and English alphabets), the beginning of everything, the first utterance of the Source. "In the beginning was the Ah." and the ah gave birth to all other sounds, "each of them is true." The Ah is also, I'll point out, the common sound in all major names for God--Brahma, Allah, Yahweh, Buddha, Ram, Ra, Ma...which suggests that the "Ah" may be the "true, universal name" of God...A nice coincidence! Thinking this cosmic sound, especially resounding from a ball of white moonlight sitting in the center of your sky-like head, (like Samantabadra in sexual union with his glowing white consort, Samantrabadri) is the top secret method of immediate enlightenment for this school (and incidentally also the Tibetan Dzogchen/tantric school) of buddhism. If you try it, you will see why.After Koya I went to Tokyo to see Satoru, Kazu, Yasuchika, and a few friends from KU. Satoru invited us to a birthday party at the Tunisian restaurant he helps out at.
Then Kazu took me to his photo studio and took pics of me dancing.
And then we went to a Kukai/esoteric buddhism art show at the national museum and I got to see Kukai's original calligraphy and painting, his vajra, and his prayer beads.
Then we met up with exchange students from KU for a final night in Tokyo. Satoru then took me to the airport where we spent the night. My flight was early in the morning.
Back in KC i have been mourning the death of my great aunt Nell and my dear friend Kristofer Vorhees. My mother and I took a road trip down to Fort Scott to deliver a diptych I painted for the Weavers, our close family friends, and to drop off some of Kristofer's things to his family in Wichita. I also got to spend the afternoon with Rick Winfrey, sangha brother and soul-lover. SO many emotions!..