In January Blair visited Japan as part of a project kindly funded by the GB Sasakawa Foundation. He had an exciting packed schedule learning about various Shodo calligraphy styles of Japanese calligraphy with Shodo masters in Tokyo, and investigating mindful meditation practices with different teachers and monks in Tokyo and the Hokuriku area.
He met respected Japanese Zazen meditation (Zen) teachers to investigate connections between mindful meditation practice for calm and well-being, Japanese harmony with the environment and Shakyo practice. Shakyo is a peaceful, meditative method of tracing the Japanese and Chinese kanji characters of sutras such as the Heart Sutra (copying the old version of traveler monk Genjo in the temple artwork below, Blair enjoyed this in Soto shu and also Hosso shu temples in Tokyo). His teachers introduced him to Ganshinkei’s (Yan Zhenqing) calligraphy being exhibited at Tokyo National Museum, as well as an exhibition of shodo pieces he visited in Ueno.
Visiting Okamoto Taro’s studio museum in Aoyama was also an inspiration as this is an artist that inspires some of the D+P Studio artwork collaborations.
It was a fun trip for Blair and he was able to stay in an old Soto Shu temple as well as learn from masters like Issho Fujita who are knowledgeable about many Japanese practices related to Buddhism and mindfulness. In different temples he found varying and subtle styles of meditation practice (such as in Soto and Rinzai temples). He also visited Natadera temple and caves, an old Shingon temple dating to the 8th century – he found connections there between the sacred earth and nature worship of Shinto, Hakusan mountain reverance and Buddhist meditative practice.
There were many mysteries and places he would have liked to spend more time delving into, but he couldn’t stop too long before hopping on the next bus or shinkansen train to reach a new Zazen meeting or Shodo workshop! Blair is very thankful for all the support he received in Japan, from many kind and helpful individuals as well as teachers and monks.
From March to May we are running a series of free workshops in the Glasgow area exploring the themes mentioned above.
7th March 2019
Ruchill After School P4-P7 Shodo Japanese Calligraphy
8th March 2019
Maryhill 12+ Shodo Japanese Calligraphy
9th March 2019
Maryhill Breakfast Club Shodo Japanese Calligraphy
25th April 2019
Maryhill Art Group – Japanese calligraphy night
28th April 2019
Introduction to Japanese Sho Calligraphy
4th May 2019
Introduction to Shakyo – Tracing the Sutras
We will have fun trying out and discussing Japanese Shodo calligraphy, meditation and mindful awareness, and investigate how these practices can help us connect with our environment through markmaking. Also we will look for shared cultural connections for instance with Celtic and Pictish symbols and pictograms. There is very little knowledge about mindful Shakyo practice, which is a calming and activity aiding wellbeing and awareness, this is a new practice for people in the UK.
Kindly supported by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation