Flowers and swords. This contrast takes me straight to the heart of wild duality and vastness inherent in every moment we are alive. Beauty and darkness, life and death are polar opposites and inseparably close, continually weaving our histories, personal, cultural, global. How do we own and hold this great wholeness? How to dance with it well?
Genji and Heike
These stunning chrysanthemum men are warriors of the Genji and Heike clans: two sides engaged in bitter struggle during 12th century Japan. Their famed wars led to unification of power in Japan and inspired so many works of art and literature, that the two clans hold a near-mythical place in Japanese culture. They have become the symbol of eternal rivals, and the colors of their standards, red and white, may still be seen on Japan’s flag.
Hirakata Doll Exhibitions
The tradition of decorating dolls with chrysanthemums began as a novelty in Tokyo in 1868; since 1910, it continued as a yearly exhibit at the Hirakata Park in Osaka prefecture. In October 2012, I was lucky to be in the right country at the right time.
Master craftsmen build 50 dolls with living mum blossoms. The floral statue scenes enact renowned moments from Japanese drama and history. This autumn tradition costs a staggering $1,000,000 to build and maintain.