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  • PAPERSKY #16 SHIMANEPHOTOGRAPHY: KEIZO KIOKU

Temples, Tea and Time-travelling in Shimane

, 2006/01/25

Shimane is a place where the essence of Japan still exists. It is a place where the people still have Japanese hearts and where Japanese history still physically stands in place. Shimane is a place that I am always eager to visit, because of it’s fullness. Shimane is an intersection between the spiritual and physical as well as a place to view the past, present and future of Japan.

In this issue of PAPERSKY we travel to Shimane, the land of the big clouds. As we travel back in and beyond time, rising and sinking with the clouds, we discover that Shimane is a masterpiece of a place.

In ancient times, Shimane’s most recognizable icon was the Izumo Temple. Izumo Taisha continues to hold an enormous amount of energy; internationally renowned architect Shin Takamatsu told us in his interview for this issue that when he first visited Izumo Taisha as a child he was frozen and unable to move for a few moments due to the sheer power he felt beaming from the temple. In Japan there are thousands upon thousands of temples but none ever stood taller in physical height then Izumo Taisha. Izumo Taisha is also home to the annual Kami Mukai festival, where each year all of the gods from around Japan come together for an annual meeting to talk of the state of the country and to reconfirm their ties with one another. Throughout history, Izumo has been a place where people come together be it for weddings, business, friendships or politics.

In a slightly less ancient past Shimane was at the forefront of style and fashion in Japan. Matsudaira Fumaiko, a former lord of the Matsue Castle, designed an elegantly simple tea house in Matsue that still stands in place today. He also designed many tea utensils and other items used in the tea ceremony. His sense was simple, but extremely modern. He also made perfectly delicious sweets which had the power to bring people closer together through their exquisite taste. Another Matsue figure of the not-so-distant past is Lafcadio Hearn also known as Koizumi Yakumo (thanks to his wife’s father). Yakumo was perhaps the first foreigner to accurately introduce to other foreigners the styles, ideas and thoughts of the everyday Japanese people. His Matsue house has been turned into a museum where visitors can stop by to learn more about Yakumo as well as pick up a book or two of his amazing tales of Japan.

In the current Shimane, the present and the future are co-exist with the past. In the winds and clouds that sweep over Lake Shinjiko everyday, time is not passing but rather swirling about. The many buildings designed by Shin Takamatsu are tangible representations of Shimane time. His buildings form a necklace about Shimane prefecture and with each building Takamatsu, who was born in Shimane, reflects on the place that many would argue is the birth place of Japan.

PAPERSKY #16: SHIMANE | Time Trip

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