Daitoku-ji Temple breaks norms by collaborating with contemporary illustrators

Daitoku-ji, Shinju-an before

Daitoku-ji is a buddhist temple in Kyoto, one of fourteen autonomous branches of the Rinzai school of Japanese Zen. Currently the the subtemple Shinju-an is closed and preparing to reopen in fall to showcase something that hasn’t been done before. The fusuma (room dividers), usually covered with historical paintings, will be serving as a canvas to contemporary illustrators that are well known for their work.

The illustrators with the head monk (left) kicking off the project.

One of them will be Art Director of the famous game Final Fantasy, Isamu Kamikokuryo who named his impressive work “Pure Land”.

Kamikokuryo drawing on the fusuma

Final Fantasy illustration

Kamikokuryo in front of the completed art work

Kamikokuryo in front of the completed art work

Hiroyuki Yamaga founding member of Gainax, an anime studio most known for Neon Genesis Evangelion, created a compelling painting in black and white.

Yamaga drawing on the fusuma

Neon Genesis Evangelion illustration

Yamaga sitting in front of the completed art work

The third is Kenichi Kitami an illustrator behind a famous Japanese comic “Tsuribaka Nisshi” about fishing. His stories have also been made into a series of movies. His work is probably the most unconventional of all using many colors and cartoon style characters.

Kitami drawing on the fusuma

“Tsuribaka Nisshi” manga (Japanese comic) about fishing

Head monk sitting in front of Kitami’s art work

The revamped Shinju-an will open to the public in fall 2018. If you’re in Kyoto around that time or after, I highly recommend a visit. Daitoku-ji is located about 15min walk from Kitaoji station on the Krasuma line (one of the main train lines in Kyoto).

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