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Kotokuji Temple

Text & photos: Joanna Kawecki


Kotokuji Temple’s connection and support of folk craft and the arts is what makes it unlike any other temple in Japan. Built in 1471, the 500-year-old temple is located in Japan’s northern region in Toyama and is surprisingly filled with folk craft from around the world. 

Find vibrantly-painted fusuma (sliding doors) to glass cabinets showcasing rare ceramic works by famed mingei (folk craft movement) founders such as Kawai Kanjiro and Shoji Hamada. Yet it is the original and site-specific woodblock prints and rare Nikuhitsu-ga paintings by mingei printmaker Shiko Munakata that make the temple so incredibly special. During World War II, Munakata came to the temple to find refuge in the quiet and safer region in Japan’s north. He was welcomed and supported by the temple’s 18th chief priest Kansho Kosaka, and ended up staying for 6 years and 8 months creating his most important works. One of the key paintings titled Kegonmatsu — depicting pine trees — drawn over six fusuma sliding doors, will be seen outside of the temple for the first time this month at the Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Design for a large retrospective exhibition celebrating Munakata’s 120th Anniversary of Birth.

The Making of Munakata Shiko: Celebrating the 120th Anniversary of the Artist’s Birth

Joanna Kawecki
Tokyo-based Editor and Journalist specialising in design and architecture. She co-founded Ala Champ Magazine in 2009, and also leads Champ Creative, an international consultancy, editorial production and special projects studio in fashion, art and design.

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