Is it Bad to be Too Decorative ?

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The famous German architect Bruno Taut, who influenced modern architects such as Le Corbusier, fled from the Nazis and lived in Japan from 1933-36. During his stay in Japan, he wrote many comments about various elements of Japanese architecture, but he was especially fascinated by the Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto; a palace which was constructed in the 17th century. From the name “Villa” you might imagine a gorgeous royal palace, but, in fact, the villa is, from my point of view, … [Read more...]

Chiune Sugihara, The Heart Sutra, and L’Dor V’Dor, from Generation to Generation.

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Chiune Sugihara was a Japanese diplomat who, in July of 1940, through extraordinary measures and under seemingly impossible circumstances, selflessly saved the lives of endangered Jews. To honor his memory and that of those whose lives were both lost and saved, artwork by Rona Conti can now be viewed at the Sugihara Foundation and Museum in Vilnius, Lithuania. In the late 1930’s , as World War II approached and Jews were being rounded up, a man named Joseph Shimkin from Poland but living … [Read more...]

Nichiren as Calligrapher, The Lotus Sutra, Siddham, and Moji-Mandala.

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Japanese mandalas are typically graphic visualizations of scenes described in a particular Sūtra. The most known examples are probably the Kongōkai (Diamond) and Taizōkai (Womb) mandalas introduced in Japan by the monk Kūkai (空海 774~835) in the Heian period. The calligraphic mandala, known as Moji-Mandala, conceived by the monk Nichiren (日蓮 1222~1282), equally describes a specific scene contained in a Sūtra, the Lotus in this case. The Moji-Mandala, however, is inscribed by making use of … [Read more...]