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Visiting artistic masonry in Onomichi

2011.06.26

I would like to describe about artistic masonry in Onomichi, subsequently.

At first, let it start with the Hachiman Shrine at the northeastern part (the direction of the bête noire) of Onomichi.
It was devastated throughout the site where had no trace of how it was used to be; nevertheless, there was a quite unique stone lantern to be noticed.
There were a military cup and fan curved in ashlar masonry pedestal of lined-up paired stone lanterns.
The picture shows the military cup that made inroads to the plinth stone from the upper pedestal.
This fact to curve the military fan was interesting enough; moreover, this drastic deformation was not such a work someone indicated to do so.
Craftsmanship with a childish heart would have enlarged the cup size. This kind of stone art may have an effect on making calm and also cheering feeling to people.

Next, at cemetery of Fukuzen Temple, I discovered a stone statue of a monkey holding a peach. Suddenly it appeared within gravestones of Edo Period.
The monkey had pretty expression; on the other hand, it oozed an eerie atmosphere at a situation like the cemetery.
It had great impact on an abstractive unphysical place like a cemetery to place such a stone statue that indicated a concrete physical.
No clue about relationships between the temple and the cemetery, and between a peach and the monkey, so I would appreciate that someone who likes inferring this, could help me top find out…

Three monkeys at Ohyama Temple are next.
They were made of in recent years, and encountering such state, even that is a same monkey as preestablished harmony has rather made us relieved. Then, we proceeded to next.

Adjoined Misode-Tenmangu Shrine has the stone staircase where one famous scene in the movie Nobuhiko Obayashi directed was shoot.
This staircase has shaped such an amazing way that each 5 meters wide step has made by a single stone, from which perceivable strong spirituality was radiated.
Only the top step was constructed with two pieces of the stone, which is referred to a folklore saying that every matter is imperfect.
Despite always amazed at the staircase and the masonry work aside, in this time, I discovered a new fact.

The base of the largest masonry in front, the side of the staircase, and the mediate masonry between those elements, shown in the picture, were implemented in different manners each other.
The base of the largest masonry was formed with dynamic lines and a little bit rough joints.
The mediate masonry was finished with fine joints as architectural intention. In contrast, masons somehow considered the side of the staircase was to cut corners since the section was not so much shown up, or the section might has been repaired later.
Could it be the same mason that let materials not responded each other, and the swallowed joints not arranged?

I grinned involuntarily. Meanwhile, surely the Japanese craftsmanship, like a dramatic story, is quite profound in the human scale in the sense of the omission and the sprit, the tension and the relaxation, and variation in arrangement.

Yoshiki Toda

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