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Sacred places: A photo exhibition on the world heritage sites in Japan

An exhibition by the Japanese photographer, Kazuyoshi Miyoshi, explores the theme of paradise through photos of sacred heritage sites in Japan

art and culture Updated: Jun 24, 2017 09:24 IST
Furquan Ameen Siddiqui
The Nikko Toshogu shrine complex was declared a World Heritage site in 1999
The Nikko Toshogu shrine complex was declared a World Heritage site in 1999(Courtesy The Japan Foundation)

Remember the photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi pulling the ears of a child in Japan? The photo was taken on Modi’s visit to a prominent, ancient Buddhist temple in Japan’s Kyoto region, Kinkaku-ji, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Kazuyoshi Miyoshi is a name well known in the Japanese art world. Photos taken by the eminent photographer are being showcased at The Japan Foundation in Lajpat Nagar. It is one of his important works that explores the world heritage sites in Japan such as the Kinkaku-ji. 

Kinkaku-ji was built as a villa for the third shogun (hereditary military dictator) of the Ashikaga shogunate who was in power from 1368 to 1394. After his death, the structure was converted into a temple of the Zen sect of Buddhism. The temple that has been burnt down many a time in war – famously during the War of Onin, a civil war that lasted from 1467 to 1477 – and renovated several times, was later granted a world heritage status.

Rakuen (Paradise in Japanese) is the theme that runs through Miyashi’s collection of over 60 photos on exhibition, with a focus on the sacred sites of pilgrimage. “From ancient times, the Japanese have believed nature and all objects contain “kami” (spirits, gods),” says Misako Futsuki, director of the Arts & Cultural Exchange, The Japan Foundation. “We hope you will be able to feel the harmony and reverent faith inherent within these carefully preserved sites captured in the beautiful photographs by Kazuyoshi Miyoshi.”

The Kumano Nachi-Taisha shrine, one of the sacred Kumano shrines, in Japan’s Wakayama Prefecture (Courtesy The Japan Foundation)

Another exhibit shows the beautiful Kumano Nachi-taisha shrine (one of the three sacred Kumano shrines) in Japan’s Wakayama Prefecture. A 15th century picture scroll illustrates the Buddhist origins of the Kumano deities. The scroll, mentions the Asia Society, recounts the genesis of the gods as Indian Buddhist royalty who experience treachery and persecution, fly to Japan, and apotheose as the deities of the Kumano shrines.

The Nikko Toshogu shrine established in 1617 enshrines the first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate. The present-day shrine complex has 55 buildings, including Yomeimon Gate, designated a National Treasure in Japan. The shrine complex was declared a World Heritage site in December 1999.

“I believe people in India are also religious in the sense that the spirits and gods are always there in their daily lives. The way of thinking is different towards them in India and Japan, but I feel there are many things in common,” says Futsuki.

What: The World Heritage Sites – Sacred Places and Pilgrimages in Japan
When
: 11 am to 7 pm, till July 5
Where: The Japan Foundation, 5-A, Ring Road, Lajpat nagar IV.
Nearest metro station
: Moolchand