Kyoto Journal published a piece of writing by one of my subjects, Mr. Akira Ito, and it's a beautiful meditation on what we may learn from plants. Here's the beginning:
Growing like thunderheads all summer long, the trees and plants of the woodlands thrive and cover every bit of the mountain until they finally begin to lose their momentum, and in the dark shadows of a forest which has gone through its adolescence and prime, one feels a touch of sadness.
explaining how theoretical astrophysics and yoga practice (as well as classical Chinese philosophy) can, together, explain the working of all energy in the universe, from the quantum level to the big bang. But of all the quite different works at the exhibition, the most moving for me is the smallest: a hand-sewn volume that fits into a box about the size of two packs of cards. The book, a loving documentation of traditional Nepali papermaking processes, displays Ito’s affection for the ways of life of traditional rural peoples. “I made this,” he says to me, in his halting, gentle voice, “as a way to try to support their way of life at the time that industrially produced paper was coming into Nepal from factories in other parts of the world. I had been doing research on handcrafts in the Himalayas in the 1970s, and I devised this project as a way to introduce Nepali methods to Japanese craftspeople, artists, and collectors.” By gathering funds from “subscribers” in Japan, Ito hired Nepali artisans to make the paper, carve the woodblocks, produce the prints page by page, and sew the pages together to produce a boxed edition of one hundred and eight copies. The paper itself is baby soft, and so pleasing to the touch that I feel myself relaxing just holding it in my hands. In the gentle images on each page, I find women walking mountain pathways with straw baskets on their backs, while the trees, the river, the yaks, the clouds, and even the rocks of the mountain themselves vibrate with Ito’s energetic line.
Read the full excerpt, beautifully laid out by the artists of Kyoto Journal, in this downloadable and printable PDF here.
Andy Couturier spent 4 years studying sustainable living in rural Japan. There, he worked with local environmentalists and wrote for The Japan Times. Couturier has also built his own house with hand tools, and has taught intuitive writing for more than two decades. He is a student of many different Asian philosophical systems and is fluent in Japanese.
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