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Yuhisai Hirodokan is a revival of an Edo period learning center. What is the Japanese aesthetic sense that has coexisted with nature?

Yuhisai Hirodokan is a revival of an Edo period learning center. What is the Japanese aesthetic sense that has coexisted with nature?

Passing through the gates in the residential area to the west of Kyoto Imperial Palace, go through the alley, and you will find a sukiya architecture with a calm atmosphere and a beautiful green garden. This is the Yuhisai Kodokan (hereinafter, Kodokan). At the academic and arts salon, which holds courses and events related to Japanese culture, we have made various efforts with GOOD NATURE STATION. Therefore, we will introduce the activities of Kodokan and the relationship with GOOD NATURE STATION in this 3rd series. The first time, we asked Mr. Kanako Hamasaki (Director, Hamazaki) to talk about the foundation of Kodokan and the core ideas behind its activities. (Interviewer: GOOD NATURE STATION Nakakubo)


Avoid the danger of demolition and save temporarily

Nakakubo: The well-maintained garden and the building are in harmony. Just sitting and looking at the garden will calm you down.


Hamasaki: When I first visited here about 13 years ago, the trees in the garden were thick and it was like a jungle. It felt like the building hadn't been used for a long time. From that time, I knew that this place was the site of Hirodokan, a learning center founded by Minagawa Jionen, a Confucian in the middle of the Edo period. I feel relieved when I am here, or I remember feeling something unique.


Nakakubo: But 10 years ago, you faced a crisis of demolition to build an apartment. I think it would have been very difficult to stop the plan.


Hamasaki: I think it was a miracle. A variety of people put in considerable effort and managed to make a temporary storage with a tight-rope walk. But I still don't know what will happen and when it will be demolished. I think it's a miracle that you have been able to continue for 10 years.


The "soul" of this place, where 3,000 disciples gathered and learned under Minagawa Jionen


Nakakubo: You rebuilt Kodokan in 2009. What kind of feeling did you continue to have?


Hamasaki: As a researcher, I have a mission to protect and convey traditional culture. Besides this Kodokan, I have been involved in building preservation and cultural revival projects for many years. Whenever I do activities, I always think about what is the pillar and what is the origin. Of course, this place has a history even before Minagawa Jionen, but there is a "soul" that about 3,000 disciples gathered from all over the country during the Edo period, and culture and learning were born. But that was forgotten.



Minagawa Junen was a scholar, but he was also a savvy person who was familiar with calligraphy and poetry. Cultural people from a wide range of genres gathered at Kodokan to inspire each other and create new things. Compared to that, I feel that education and politics have a narrow perspective today. If I say "I specialize in this," that's all. Often, I'm only interested in my scope. Therefore, I strongly thought that a place like Hirodokan is necessary for the present and future. People and culture are on top of what their ancestors have cultivated for generations, and they will be connected to the next generation. At Kodokan, remember that you are in that sequence. With that in mind, we have revived and held lectures and events on Japanese culture such as tea ceremony and incense, and performing arts like Noh and Rakugo. Now, I think it has become a place for many people to learn.


Coexistence with nature that Japanese people have valued


Nakakubo: Unfortunately, I heard that the number of gardens and sukiya-style buildings like Kodokan has been declining in recent years. Sometimes you can feel it only in these places.


Hamasaki: That's right. There are many things to learn when you are in Kodokan. For example a beautiful garden. When I actually do gardening, I notice that I'm pulling grass and taking "life" for human beauty. It may be hard to say to take away, but the garden is not made by man, it is not nature itself. Humans receive many lives and grace from nature. The garden will tell you that. I think it is only natural to live a beautiful, humble and sustainable life with nature. It is impossible for us to live alone. However, in the present age, it's not easy to find the exact point.



And Sukiya architecture teaches us a lot. This building has been renovated from the end of the Edo period to the Taisho era, and it is filled with the aesthetic sense that the Japanese have inherited. Sit down like this in a parlor between the floors, with the feeling that your tatami is touching your knees, and your sitting posture is in the line of sight. The beauty of this space cannot be understood until you feel them. If you put a table and a chair here and sit on the chair and look at the hanging scroll between the floors, is it really beautiful? The breath of people who have lived in this space for many years or years, or who hung a hanging scroll between floors, is surely memorable in this place. I think it would be completely ignored.


Awareness gained by trying online


Nakakubo: Although Kodokan values the Japanese tradition, it was one of the earliest things you could do online due to the coronal disaster.


Hamasaki: I was told that it was surprising (laughs). However, we hold online lectures and tea parties with the ambition of keeping the light of learning from being connected. Even when I did it online, I was able to convey the excitement of those who participated, and it was a discovery for me that joy can certainly be born because it can be transmitted even if I am not in the same place. .. For example, in an online tea ceremony, you can really feel that you are facing the same direction at the same time, even if you are not in front of you. I thought that "Ichiza standing" can be done without being in the same place. If the people who participated in the online tea ceremony are satisfied online, there is a way of thinking that Kodokan is unnecessary. However, I think that I can deeply understand the tea ceremony by doing it online.


On the contrary, it becomes clear what is not possible to convey online. Again, what does it mean to have a place, be together at the same time, and exist? What we really want Was It is also an opportunity to rediscover whether or not it is there.


Hirodokan is a revival of the "soul" of the Minagawa Jion garden. Sitting in the hall, you can hear the sound of rain falling on the leaves and feel the breeze passing through the hall. I would like to learn more about the symbiosis with nature and the way of life that my ancestors valued. That motivated me.


Next time, Hiromichi Hall and GOOD NATURE STATION Patisserie brand · RAU of GOOD NATURE STATION for the study group that went together from before the opening of, you hear the talk.

(Interviewed in early July 2020)


Yuhisai Hirodokan


524-1 Kamichomachi, Shinjuku-Higashiiri, Kamichoja-cho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto

GOOD NATURE JOURNAL Editorial Department