Anything goes at Shinju-an: Don’t miss the sliding door paintings!
Right now, there is a special viewing event taking place at Shinjuan, a sub-temple of Daitoku-ji. Until December 16, 2018, the traditional sliding door paintings of Shinjuan have been changed to new ones, for the first time in 400 years.
The people given the task of making these new sliding door paintings were manga artists, movie directors, and art directors for games; creative people working in many different fields. It’s unheard of that a temple is this welcoming to subculture-related art, but this is because the founder of Shinjuan, a Zen Buddhist monk named Ikkyu, was himself an unconventional person who could think outside of the box.
The harmony of traditional temple architecture and the world of games and manga is something that feels a bit strange, but the atmosphere also makes you forget about the time ticking away.
As for the temple, the reason why they’re holding this event is to get those people not really into temples and Zen Buddhism to visit it too. Shinjuan is not normally open to the public, so even getting to go inside is a rare treat, so even those don’t normally go to temples should give it a thought.
Sliding door paintings
This time they have six works of art on display. The six artists, who each work at different fields and have different drawing styles, each received an assignment about what to draw from the head priest and did their artwork in accordance with it. Because of this, each sliding door painting is different and has its own unique beauty.
The time it took to paint the sliding doors also varied a lot, with some artists manging it in as short a time as three days, while the art director of the Final Fantasy series, Isamu Kamikokuryo took almost a year to make his painting (and he is still not satisfied with it and continues making small corrections to it).
In some of the artwork, the people painted in them have real counterparts. For example, the artist drawing the manga Tsuribaka Nisshi, Ken’ichi Kitami, has painted the head-priest of the temple into his painting, and not only in one spot, but many. So if you’re interested, please look for the head-priest in the painting!
Study room Tsusenin (tea room Teigyokuken)
The sliding door paintings are of course great, but the study room of Tsusenin is also something you can’t normally enter, so remember to check it out too. The building used to belong to the empress consort, but was gifted to a physician during the Sengoku period, and then gifted it to Shinjuan.
If you look at the other buildings at Shinjuan, you’ll notice that the wooden latticework is horizontal, but if you look at Tsusenin, the latticework is vertical, giving it a delicate appearance, so you can see that this building was probably used by women.
Inside it, you can see paintings by some of the most famous Japanese artists, such as an ink painting by Kano Motonobu and a gold-leaf painting by Tosa Mitsuoki. Getting to see these paintings in the natural light coming by the sliding doors is a special kind of feeling.
There is also a tea room Teigyokuken. It’s pretty dark inside, and it’s not easy to see it all but to think that this is the room where they have tea ceremonies is very interesting.