We are now entering the final week of the “Ise-Japan Study Program” 「伊勢」と日本スタディプログラム, a fully funded stay of about three weeks in Ise City 伊勢市 complete with lectures and field trips given by Kōgakkan University 皇學館大学 faculty members to graduate students (MA and PhD) and degree-holding researchers in the program. Ise City and Kōgakkan University have worked together to hold the program from February to mid-March for the last four years, and we have been fortunate that some great researchers from all over the world have participated (see the bottom of this post for a list of participants and links to their SNS posts about the program).
The sign above is an advertisement outside of the JR Nara train station showing the super high-speed linear train project (in the middle) that would make getting from Nara to Mie Prefecture 三重県 (a photo of Ise shrine is on the top left) take even less time than it does with the existing express trains.
Kasugataisha Shrine 春日大社 (Kasuga Grand Shrine) and Akashiya Brushes あかしや筆
This morning we went to Kasuga Grand Shrine in Nara, where we received a special guided tour from one of the priests there.
This was my first time visiting the company, but I have used Akashiya brushes like the ones below for about 20 years. I save them for special occasions like exhibition pieces, because they are a little too high quality for my daily use.
After hearing the master craftsman at the shop explain the brushes, I have a better sense of why they are so nice. I also have a new appreciation for all the experience and materials that go into making them. Here is a pamphlet that gives some sense of what is involved — it was difficult enough just doing step 12!
I like it a lot for seal script 隷書, and I recently used it to write the piece below, which I displayed at our school festival and at an exhibition by Kōgakkan in Ise City last winter. It says “hawks fly, fish leap” (enpi gyoyaku 鳶飛魚躍), meaning “the pleasure of being free to follow one’s true nature.”