Religion is all around you in Japan, woven into everyday social and cultural values. The Japanese attach great importance to rituals and native Shinto principles, where every living thing is considered nature. Everywhere you goyou come across Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. Some of them are enormous, and ornate to the point of being gaudy. With their big entrance gates painted red and black, people flock to them to pray. Then you’ll also find almostthe opposite – tiny temples and shrines resembling a local shop in the middle of a residential area or down some inconspicuous alley. It struck me that while the Japanese might rush around going about their daily business, at these sites they exude tranquillity. That touched me. In this series, I wanted to combine a number of visual elements related to this special spiritual dimension. Each art piece consists of a wooden, square box. On top of each box, there’s aknotted piece of paper with alternating colours in red, white and black.
The square box is called a ます masu in Japanese, and was originally used as a measuring cup for rice in medieval times. Nowadays it’s used to serve sake, which the Japanese drink as a symbolic gesture to be nearer the gods. I collected all the boxes at various flea markets in Tokyo and Kyoto in appreciation of their simple but pure beauty.
おみくじ Omikuji are Japanese oracles or fortune-telling written on a piece of paper (literally ‘a sacred fate’). If you visit a shrine, you can pull an omikuji out of a box or chest of drawers. Omikuji are ranked with degrees of happiness or unhappiness, from 大吉 dai-kichi, ‘a big blessing’, to 大凶 daikyō, ‘a terrible curse’. You can make the blessing come true or chase the curse away by tying the oracle paper in a knot, to a branch of a tree. If you draw the omikuji with the highest-ranking blessing, you’re free to take it home with you! Each art piece contains an original omikuji sourced from the Kanda Myojin Shrine in Chiyoda, Tokyo. Ready to tell the fortune of its future owner…
|DIMENSIONS||10 x 10 cm|
|MATERIALS||antique sake box, paper|