(revised October 21: see the new, “2.0” version of ‘Kanazawa Photo Drift’ at https://medium.com/the-big-sushi/kanazawa-photo-drift-e0c4af118c16#.rhkzl02l6)
“wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful wonderful! And yet again wonderful” – D.T. Suzuki, quoting Shakespeare from As You Like It
Never mind the nigh-eight hour bus ride from Shinjuku, that the Kanazawa Station area at dawn is a rectilinear, parallelpiped wasteland, that the petulant cherry blossoms refused to bloom, that our downtown business hotel needed a “No prostitutes in your room!” sign AND camera in the elevator, or that the main exhibition space of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art was closed in preparation for the next exhibition. We had a good time anyway, though maybe not quite up to the standards of D.T. Suzuki’s ecstatic quote, above. Then again, he was, like a zen master, so there you go.
Highlights for me have gotta be
- The D.T. Suzuki Museum
- The Chaya Geisha and Samurai Districts
- The Clifton Kahru Collection and ema shrine plaques
Here, in brief, are my dominant impressions of each:
D.T. Suzuki Museum
Great 雰囲気, funiki, as we say here in Japan, great atmosphere. You can find out more about the Museum here. I’ll just say for now that my dream home has just undergone major renovations.
Chaya Geisha and Samurai Districts
R. and I really enjoyed getting lost, cameras in hand, by day and by night in the narrow lanes between these 100-year-old wooden houses.
Clifton Karhu Collection and Ema Boards
“If you do not like my pictures, then hang them upside down.” – Clifton Karhu
There’s a term for foreigners who come to Japan and end up becoming, as they say, more Japanese than the Japanese: henna gaijin, or “strange foreigner”. Doesn’t sound very nice in English or in Japanese, does it, though at least some henna gaijin are taking ownership of the term.
Clifton Kahru is probably one of the more successful westerners to embrace a traditional Japanese art form, moku hanga, the woodblock print technique made famous by ukiyo-e landscape – and erotica – masters Hokusai and Hiroshige. Kahru used the technique to depict scenes of old Kyoto and Kanazawa – and, apparently like these earlier masters, some erotica – albeit with a pretty soft, whimsical touch. Kahru also produced a series of 12 ema boards, eaxh with a different animal from the Chinese zodiac, which is on limited display at the shrine in Kanazawa. Many of Karhu’s prints are on display, and on sale, at the Kahru Collection gallery in the Chaya District, near the Asano River. Friendly and informative curator, though doesn’t speak much English I’m afraid. Nevertheless, he tells me, many international collectors visit his gallery to view and buy Karhu prints.
Fun Facts about Kanazawa:
UNESCO-appointed “City of Crafts and Folk Art”
Apparently, Kanazawa was the centre of the 100-year, so-called “Peasant’s Kingdom”
So those are the highlights of the trip. I’ll be posting more about these and other locations in Kanazawa soon. Meantime, enjoy some more pictures…