Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fortunes of the Past







mid 1500s


late 1700s

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Karma Crown; The Tengai Progression

Ippitsusai Buncho 1765-1792

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Hasegawa Mitsunobu 1740

Keicho okite-gaki, the first memorandum issued to the komuso, in 1677, states in clause 5, that "The komuso should not take off their headgear indiscriminately; they should make sure they have thorough understanding for[the significance of] this."  The word used here for headgear is hokan,  literally "karma crown."

Shakuhachi researcher Nakatsuka Chikuzen noted that the tengai (“canopy”) was not in common use until after the Meiwa era (1764–1771), with reference to woodblock prints of komusō from that time.

According to “Kyotaku denki” (1795) the tengai was introduced by Kusunoki Masakatsu, the alleged first komusō.  In a passage where Masakatsu, a.k.a. Kyomu, explains his clothing: “Kyomu continued, ‘I have made a new ordinance: the basket-hat is to be called tengai it shall be irreverent for a man engaged in these religious austerities to take off the basket-hat. His face must be covered with it when he meets others. The idea is to assume a life of seclusion even in town.” A later 1792 version of “Keichō okite-gaki” does not carry the word tengai, it may indicate that the story in Kyotaku denki kokuji-kai, published in 1795, was the first time that the deep basket type of hat was prescribed.

Okumura Masanobu 1700-1764

Suzuki Harunobu 1724-1770

Suzuki Harunobu 1724-1770

Painted by Genki, second month An'ei 7 [1778]

 A dignitary with a long beak is watching a maid do a fan dance, while a creature dressed in skulls - often shown gnawing bones - is providing a tune on the shakuhachi.

Happy Easter

People of various social classes dancing in a ring under the cherry blossoms to the sound of shakuhachi, hand drums, and shamisen.

Miyagawa Choshun 1688-1716

Saturday, April 7, 2012

empty bamboo

to oblivion

and rebirth

Monday, April 2, 2012

Run the Tengai Gauntlet

"These monks formed an association that functioned as a kind of relief organization for masterless samurai. The way of the komusō was an honorable calling. As a member of the warrior class , a komusō might theoretically be summoned to rout an enemy. Komusō were thus granted freedom to travel anywhere they pleased. They were given the right to use ferries free of charge and even attended the theater without paying admission. Komusō often misused their privileges, however, and were known to wreck havoc on the road or in the villages through which they passed. The bakufu responded to such behavior by repeatedly issuing various prohibitions.
Komusō were required to tour either alone or in pairs; no large groups of komusō roamed the land during the Edo period. Moreover, komusō were not allowed to stay at a location for longer than a day; nor did they have the right to use horses or palanquins. The komusō were, however, never required to remove their basketlike hat. No matter how exalted a presence they might encounter on the road or at an inn, they were not obliged to show their faces. Hence on both the roads and at inns, komusō were highly conspicuous.
Over one hundred komusō temples existed throughout Japan."
Edo Culture: Daily Life and Diversions in Urban Japan, 1600-1868 by Nishiyama Matsunosuke

However, Constantine Vaporis in Breaking Barriers: Travel and the State in Early Modern Japan twice throws doubt on this claim. On page 131 he lists a number of types who "...were prohibited from entering numerous domains." Komusō were listed among them. Later (p. 147) Vaporis notes that komusō with legitimate passes could travel freely. However, komusō without permits would be questioned thoroughly and only if they were deemed acceptable, i.e., non-threatening could they continue."