The 16th Craft Camp at Koyasan in Wakayama
I arrive at Friday midday at my home in Sugitani, Komono-cho after a really long flight. The van is packed and made ready and at 3am the alarm goes off. We head off on a 200km trek to Koya-san in Wakayama Prefecture. Koyasan is the HQ of Esoteric Buddhism in Japan. Set up by Kukai, a monk who travelled to China where under Chinese and Indian teachers he came to full understanding of Esoteric Buddhism which he brought back to Japan. It is here that the Annual Craft Camp is held. The title of the 16th Craft Camp, held from over the weekend of the 5th-6th August this year was "HOMEWORK". An allusion to the amount of stuff Japanese kids are loaded down with despite being on holiday. Asada Hiroshi, president of the Organizing Committee had this to say in the forward of the programme. "
More and more people everywhere are becoming more aware of "kodawari" in their daily life. ("Kodawari" can be explained as having a more holistic and more ecologically and socially aware approach to life). Craft has begun to draw more attention to itself as an essential tool for life and the people who choose to live this life. However, the object of craft takes on a life of its own giving out a symbol of richness in life but I think it is better to think about this in a flexible way and to reflect on things calmly. Too many people are blinded by commercial values and brand names which creates a loss of their discerning faculties. One of the great things that I became aware of was the the incredible joy that people transmit through the work they do and this joy is seen when the person uses the object in daily life. The ability to do this is our "homework"! The craftsperson doesn`t have easy answers to the many problems of daily life but our "homework" is not only art but is normal and a healthy function.
More than 100 craftspersons participated covering a wide variety of crafts. Live music of a very high calibre, excellent food and an ambiance where smiles were abundant and frowns redundant. A great weekend!!! Great people willing to share and a chance to catch up with old friends and plug into the network. A brief visit to Koyasan Town allowed one to relax in a friendly bar and to choose some excellent local sake.
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