THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE EIGHT SHRINE BUILDINGS’ DESIGNATION AS NATIONAL TREASURES NIKKO TOSHOGU SHRINE GEIJUTSU KAGURA EXHIBITION and MIKI-NO-CHIKARA EXHIBITION
THE 70TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE EIGHT SHRINE BUILDINGS’ DESIGNATION AS NATIONAL TREASURES
NIKKO TOSHOGU SHRINE GEIJUTSU KAGURA EXHIBITION and MIKI-NO-CHIKARA EXHIBITION
REPORT of THE EVENTS
For five days from July 24 (Sat) to 28 (Wed), 2021,Geijutsu Kagura Exhibition and Miki-no-Chikara Exhibition (featuring Japanese art on sake labels) were held at Nikko Toshogu’s East Cloister, its adjacent small hall and the Reception Hall in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the eight Nikko Toshogu Shrine buildings’ designation as national treasures. The Reception Hall building was designed by Kenzo Tange, the famous architect who also designed Tokyo Metropolitan City Hall and the recipient of the Order of Culture and Legion d’Honneur (France).
The exhibitions showcased 468 artworks, including 297 Western-style paintings, Japanese paintings, ink paintings, sculptures, crafts, and calligraphy selected from all over Japan at Geijutsu Kagura Exhibition, 101 bottles with art labels at Miki-no-Chikara Exhibition, and 70 outstanding works by children across Japan at the Exhibition for Peace, entitled “Let’s Draw Nikko Toshogu’s National Treasures: Holy Animals.”
Although the five-day events were held during the COVID-19 pandemic, they attracted over 19,000 visitors and ended successfully without a single person having been infected thanks to the thorough COVID-19 countermeasures.
I would also like to express my thanks to the members of the Shinto priesthood, led by Mr. Hisao Inaba, Chief Priest of Nikko Toshogu Shrine, for their deep understanding and cooperation. Mr. Inaba made a bold decision that the exhibitions were essential, following Tokugawa Ieyasu’s principle of peace, enabling us to hold the exhibitions when most of Nikko Toshogu Shrine’s annual events were cancelled due to the pandemic.
July 24 (Sat): Children’s Art Session
In the morning, Children’s Art Session was held in the open space in front of the Reception Hall building as the first event,with the participation of seven children, from kindergarten to junior high school age, and our artists.
The event involved leading Japanese artists and children working together to create an artwork on a large piece of vellum paper. Such “Children’s Art Session” has been organized, in conjunction with our art exhibitions, since the founding of the Geibun Association with the objective of cultivating aesthetic sensibility of children both in Japan and abroad.
As Ms. Eiko Itako, Western-style painting artist, announced the theme of the event, which was to imagine “the future,” and asked them to start depicting freely, the children began drawing enthusiastically right away, producing a vibrantly colored “future” on the white sheet. The event concluded with each of the children having been given a prize for participation.
Dedication of Art: Opening Ceremony and Award Presentation
On the afternoon of the same day, the opening ceremony and the presentation of Nikko Toshogu Shrine Distinguished Artist Certificate for Contribution to Peace were held in Butokuden Hall.
First, Mr. Hisao Inaba, Chief Priest of Nikko Toshogu Shrine and the co-host of the exhibitions, declared the commencement of the event and greeted the artists.
Opening Speech by Mr. Hisao Inaba, Chief Priest (summary)
I am very delighted to see so many artists from all over Japan who have come to Geijutsu Kagura Exhibition and the award ceremony, jointly hosted by the Geibun Association and Nikko Toshogu Shrine. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to you all.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the designation of eight Nikko Toshogu Shrine buildings, including Yomeimon Gate, as national treasures. We believe that this exhibition offers the collection of excellent artworks worthy of god’s appreciation and that the title of the exhibition warms the heart of Ieyasu, Toshogu’s deity, enshrined in the Main Hall (national treasure), which is regarded as the pinnacle of art.
I would now like to declare the opening of Nikko Toshogu Shrine Geijutsu Kagura Exhibition.
Thank you very much indeed for your time today.
Congratulatory address by Mr. Takao Saito, Director of Nikko City Board of Education (Summary)
I would like to say a few words on behalf of Mayor Shoichi Konakawa.
I offer my heartfelt congratulations on the opening of Nikko Toshogu Geijutsu Kagura Exhibition, which is held in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the designation of eight shrine buildings as national treasures.
I undersand that the exhibition features many artworks which were created by many artists in the way to embody Tokugawa Ieyasu’s concept of peace.
We are still in the midst of worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 and the situation is critical, but I understand the exhibition represents our wish for a time filled with peace and hope for future generations of children.
I would like to conclude my congratulatory speech by wishing you successful exhibitions.
Speech by Mr. Nobutoshi Akao, Senior Advisor, Geibun Association (Summary)
It is a great honor for us to jointly host this art exhibition with Nikko Toshogu Shrine again this year in the Cloister around the Main Hall, designated as national treasure, in addition to the Reception Hall. I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to Chief Priest, Mr. Inaba.
COVID-19, which is said to have originated in Wuhan, China, spread rapidly all over the world, and people worldwide are still suffering with little prospect of its end.
I believe that art, culture and sports are our very pursuit that could soothe such suffering. The theme of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which opened last night, was “United by Emotion.” I think art and culture play a very similar role.
I would like to conclude my greetings by asking for continued cooperation and support by artists, who contributed to this event.
Speech by Katsumoto Munakata, Advisor, Oriental Art, Geibun Association (Summary)
I am very pleased that we can hold Nikko Toshogu Kagura Exhibition.
There are various genres of work.
Love is the most important thing in creating art. When you fall in love with an artwork, you receive love in return. A conversation begins from there. I would like to cherish such a space.
It cannot be conveyed in print, and emotions cannot be communicated unless the work is seen in person. We wish to understand one another. I want to engage in conversations through art wherever I go in the world. It moves us when we understand each other. When we are moved, peace will prevail. Art enables us to have
mutual understanding. I would like to offer my best wishes and thanks for the opportunity of meeting you all.
Japanese Music Performance
Mr. Taiki Makino gave a Tsugaru samisen performance. Mr. Makino studied under a master, Shin-ichi Kinoshita, who is considered to be the greatest samisen player of the century. He won the Tsugaru Shamisen National Cup junior category at the tender age of 12, and won the second place in the 39th Tsugaru Shamisen World Cup Individual Class-A category this May.
Mr. Makino’s Tsugaru samisen performance paid tribute to the outstanding artists.
Nikko Toshogu Shrine Distinguished Artist Certificate for Contribution to Peace and Gold Cup (Miki-no-Chikara Exhibition) Award Ceremony
The chief priest presented the award.
Speech by Mr. Fumitaka Ishikawa, Representative Director, Geibun Association (Summary)
I would like to thank you all for coming today despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have worked on projects for permanent lending of artworks, donated to Nikko Toshogu Shrine by our artists, to educational, public and social welfare institutions, with tremendous support from our co-host, Nikko Toshogu Shrine, as well as Tochigi Prefecture, Nikko City, and Nikko City Board of Education. We hope that we can resume such efforts for social contribution, once COVID-19 pandemic is over.
Lastly, I would like to thank the artists who participated in Nikko Toshogu Geijutsu Kagura Exhibition and Miki-no-Chikara Exhibition to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the eight shrine buildings’ designation as national treasures.
Special Prayer in Shogun’s Throne Room
The Art Dedication Ceremony concluded at the end of a special prayer offered in the Shogun’s Throne Room in the Main Hall where successive Shoguns offered their prayers.
Gold Cup for World Peace Award Ceremony, July 25 (Sun)
The award ceremony of Gold Cup for World Peace was held at Miki-no-Chikara Exhibition, which featured
sake bottle labels in the East Hall at the back of the East Cloister.
First, Mr. Ichiro Yuzawa, Deputy Chief Priest of Nikko Toshogu Shrine,gave a speech on behalf of Chief Priest Inaba, followed by, Mr. Nobutoshi Akao, Senior Advisor of the Geibun Association.
Mr. Yuzawa presented Gold Cup for World Peace, honoring outstanding artists, and the ceremony concluded with the closing address by Representative Director of the Geibun Association.
Speech by Mr. Ichiro Yuzawa, Deputy Chief Priest (Summary)
The exhibition was held to express our vision for an open and brighter future in a bid to break through the gloom Japan and the world have been experiencing in the COVID-19 pandemic and unprecedented natural disasters.
“Otokoyama,” sake from Hokkaido, in the exhibition is famous sake popular among Edo (present Tokyo) people as official sake of the Tokugawa Shogunate government. The exhibition gave us a precious opportunity to learn about the association between Tokugawa Ieyasu and “Otokoyama”. I am sure, in this sense, that this exhibition would be an impressive event for many people.
I sincerely hope that the exhibition will be remembered as a page in the creative activities of the participating artists.
Speech by Nobutoshi Akao, Senior Advisor, Geibun Association (Summary)
Today, I would like to briefly touch upon the relationship between sake, wine and art in connection with Miki-no-Chikara Exhibition.
Speaking of art and wine labels, Château Mouton Rothschild in Bordeaux, France, is one the most world-famous examples of wine’s association with art. Every year since 1945, the Château has been using artworks by different famous artists such as Picasso and Chagall on its labels.Similarly, with Japanese sake, we may expect synergistic effects through such art label exhibitions, as it may contribute to the promotion of sake, Japanese art, and cultural exchanges both at home and abroad.
As we hope to plan and hold art bottle label exhibitions in collaboration with Japanese sake breweries and artists in future as well, we would like to ask for your continued understanding and support.
Closing Address by Fumitaka Ishikawa, Representative Director, Geibun Association (Summary)
The Geibun Association has been promoting collaborations between children and artists with the objective of cultivating aesthetic sensibility of children in mind.
Culture, be it fine art, music or sports, provides everyone healing and encouragement.
It moves us tremendously when we see Olympic athletes and high school baseball players at Koshi-en Stadium doing their best, which is just as important as the emotions we feel by seeing art works. I would like to thank you very much for your participation.
As the Exhibitions Concluded
Our association with the Nikko Toshogu’s Shinto Priesthood, represented by Chief Priest, Mr. Inaba, and Deputy Chief Priest, Mr. Yuzawa, began just two years after the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake, with Sakura Exhibition having been held in 2013 as a part of our contributions to the reconstruction. Eight years since then have enabled us to build a close bond between Nikko Toshogu Shrine and us.
The theme of this year’s exhibition was to beat the COVID-19 pandemic and disasters caused by torrential rain, and I keenly felt how the power of art and culture is needed.
I can only hope and pray that the whole situation will come under control.
Fumitaka Ishikawa, Representative Director, Geibun Association