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Friday, May 16, 2014

Cool Japanese Photo #6 - Dark Corner Of A Temple

Here's an interesting photo I took in a temple in Nikko, Tochigi-ken. It shows a komainu (a Korean lion dog) (or just a lion dog) perched way up in the rafters, stuck in a corner of the wooden beams... in the most casual pose I have ever seen for one of these things.

Hind leg scratching his turned head and ear.

Yeah... now you see it.

These things are usually grim (smiling, but grim) guardians of temples... with one perched atop a ball or playing with a pup or standing erect sneering down at the lowly visitor who dares defile the temple with their presence.

But... here's a painted carving of one guardian, obviously off-duty... perched up 15 or so feet high up in a dark corner. No one should ever have seen him scratching himself...

My back was stiff after walking around all day, and I stretched backwards and caught a glimpse of something. I used my telephoto lens on my 35mm camera... and lo-and-behold... this is what I saw. Just luck.

Actually, it took me a couple of minutes to figure out exactly what the heck I was looking at... and when it clicked in... well, I'm betting I made some Japanese kami (spirit) and the shade of a dead artistic carver very happy.

I mean really... over the 400 years... how many people have actually seen this work of art... or knew what it was and what it was doing? 100? A 1,000? 10? Maybe it was just me?

After that, whenever I entered a temple, I inspected every dark corner of every ceiling. This was pretty much the only cool secret I found... but I'm sure there are other neat things out there and maybe you'll find one yourself.

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph

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