Sunday, October 16, 2005


Yesterday went to a coffee shop in the small town south of us to see an exhibition of pottery that, judging from the photo on the invitation postcard, looked very much like Okinawan pottery, one of my favorites, but when we got to the venue we saw from the poster outside that we’d mixed things up; the show date on the postcard was next week; the current show was a series of Buddhist sculptures, so we went in to see that. Never mess with serendipity.

Turned out the friendly young sculptor, originally from Hiroshima, trained as a Busshu (Buddhist sculptor) under a master in Kyoto and now resides in the next village up the road from us. We frequently pass near his house on our walks, and he invited us to visit his studio next time.

There were a number of needless-to-say impressive sculptures on exhibit, a couple of them large sacred-style Buddha statues destined for various temples around Japan after being sent off for gilding (he doesn’t do the gilding or finishing, only the sculpting), but the sculptures I liked the most were his own personal depictions of the rakan (arhats, or Buddhist ‘saints’), particularly the laughing one (all were carved out of camphor wood!).

I asked if he needed any camphor wood, since I still have a few sections left and I’d rather see them as nice sculptures than as objects of my firewood-splitting curses; he said camphor was pretty easy to get since it wasn’t much use for anything practical (tell me about it) like furniture making or carpentry, since it warped so easily. But he had put it to magnificent use. If I’d had some money in my shoe I’d have bought that laughing rakan, to look at while I split firewood.


Anonymous said...

Don't leave us in suspense: how much is that wonderful rakan?


Robert Brady said...

The price was 150,000 yen, at about 114 yen to the dollar... that much in my shoe and I'd have been limping anyway.