Four Japanese Landscapes (2018)

Piano, Violin, Cello, Clarinet (13.5 mins)

Each landscape is a representation of my experience and thoughts of different locations I visited in Japan during the spring of 2017.

I. The Souls of Adashino Nenbutsu-ji

This temple, founded in 811, sits in an area where people have historically abandoned the bodies of the dead, exposing them to the elements. Now some 8,000 statuettes, which were scattered around Adashino and collected in 1903, memorialize the souls of the dead. The movement contains strong representations of time and death, yet remains hopeful that the souls abadoned have found peace.

II. The Markets at Zenko-ji Temple

Less focused on the history of the temple, the movement highlights the vibrancy of the people and markets that lead up to the temple. Especially on festivals and weekends, people busily swamp the temple, many wearing traditional japanese items, shop for trinkets whilst having a good time with friends and family.

III. The Torri of Fushimi Inari

Althought technically the shinto god of rice, merchants and manufacturers of Japan traditionally view him as the patron of business. Since being built in 1499, the main shrine has amased nearly 10,000 torri (the orange gates) on its main path. While traveling the path, one becomes transfixed with a sense of weight and reverance, as the path contains several smaller shrines spanning the 2.5 miles trail. It is a custom to donate to the temple in order to see a wish to come true, or to thank for a wish that has become true.

IV. The Rakan at Otagi Nenbutsu-ji

There are nearly 1,200 Rakan Statues at Otagi Nenbutsu-ji. The statuettes, usually humorous in nature represent the disciples of Buddha. In writing this movement, I tried to channel the whimsical and mischievous nature conveyed in the statutes. Therefore, despite the movement starting with some gravity (representing the serious discipline it takes to create these rakan), the movement quickly dissolves to quarky and disjunct motives.

Listen

Performance: Unheard Of//Ensemble

© 2017 by Paul Poston.