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2021.11.1 - 14
Special Exhibition  
“Hiroshi Sugimoto: Every day is a stormy day”



East Side ©️Hiroshi Sugimoto/ Courtesy of RYOSOKU photo: Masatomo Moriyama

A special 11-day exhibition of Hiroshi Sugimoto's works, including Fusuma sliding doors, Kakejiku hanging scrolls and Five Elements, will be held in Study Hall, in front of the Kyoto Prefectural scenic garden.


Ryosoku-in is usually closed to the public, and will only be open to the public for this limited period and by appointment. Books and products related to Hiroshi Sugimoto will be available for purchase during the exhibition period. 






Special Exhibition “Hiroshi Sugimoto: Every day is a stormy day”  

Period:    November 1 (Mon) - 14 (Sun), 2021, 10am - 3pm (Last admission: 2:30pm)       

       *Closed on November 3, 9 and 11.

Venue:    Ryosoku-in  

Capacity:   8 people (every 30 minutes)  

       *Advanced reservations required (reservations will be accepted from September) 

Admission: 2,000 yen  


RYOSOKU members will be able to make advance reservations for the special exhibition from August 23 (Mon). Applications will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.  

Cooperation: Odawara Art Foundation, Hiroshi Sugimoto Studio


Kakejiku hanging scrolls: “Every day is a stormy day”©️Hiroshi Sugimoto/ Courtesy of RYOSOKU photo: Masatomo Moriyama

<List of works> 


East side “Lightning Fields”, 8 fusuma sliding doors, 2021

Technique: Pigment print  

Material:  Japanese paper (Awagami inkjet paper), Pigment ink

Total external size: approx. 1.5-1.8m high, approx. 7m long

West side

Material: Handmade torinoko paper, sumi mica on light gray

Karakami paper: Kamisoe

Total external size: approx. 1.5-1.8m high, approx. 7m long




Kakejiku hanging scrolls: “Every day is a stormy day”

             “Every day is excuse day”          

External size: H181cm×W58cm

Material:   Ink on Japanese paper

Mounting by Fujita Gasōdō (fusuma sliding doors and kakejiku hanging scrolls) 


West side ©️Hiroshi Sugimoto/ Courtesy of RYOSOKU photo: Masatomo Moriyama

Hiroshi Sugimoto, Contemporary Artist  

A Discursive Autobiography


I was born in Okachimachi, Tokyo in 1948 and moved to the United States at the age of twenty-two. Desiring to capture the truth of the world, I went on to master the art of photography. I made my debut in New York with Still Lives, in which I photographed stuffed animals, such as a polar bear, in dioramas and presented them as if they were living things. I was now roaming the narrow space that exists between life and death.    


I then began photographing entire movies in a single still image, producing nihilistic photographs that show how all our stories will eventually return to white light. This alone not being enough to keep body and soul together, I started dealing in antiquities and developed a fascination for Buddhist art. Inspired by the epigram “Kill every Buddha you meet” from the Records of Rinzai, I began to “sell every Buddha I met.” At this point, I made a pilgrimage to the upper reaches of the Nachi waterfalls on Mt. Nachi, where I felt the powerful pull of Shinto. It was the thought of the water from the falls flowing out into the sea that inspired my Seascapes, a series of sea images from around the world. It was at this point that I became an enthusiastic collector of artifacts associated with Shinto-Buddhist syncretism.    


I was subsequently commissioned to rebuild the Go’o Shrine on the island of Naoshima, which I designed as a transitional space connecting the Kofun period to the myths and legends of the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki. More architectural commissions followed and I added architect to the title of artist.    


In my old age, I woke up to the charms of calligraphic scrolls after acquiring one by Daitōkokushi that starts with the paradox: “A good Zen monk speaks in abrupt outbursts throughout the day.” I launched my own career as a calligrapher with a work entitled Pierce the Blue Sky.    


In pursuit of my youthful vow to capture the truth, I have spent my whole life experimenting with different approaches, but my ambition is not yet fully realized. Now, feeling a little as if I am acting as my own grave digger, I am building Enoura Observatory, the work that will be my legacy, on a mountain covered in citrus trees.    


Garden in front of Study Hall ©️Hiroshi Sugimoto/ Courtesy of RYOSOKU photo: Masatomo Moriyama

Message from Toryo Ito|Vice Chief Monk, Ryosoku-in


I have been thinking about the next 100 years of Ryosoku-in’s temple grounds.

In 2005, I completed my zen training and began my duties at Ryosoku-in. At the time, I devoted myself to promoting the beauty of our garden and bokuseki calligraphy. After some time, my interest turned to activities somewhat closer to the heart. To begin, I started holding regular yoga and zazen classes, injecting these activities into ordinary life. Alongside this, I also produced more extraordinary opportunities, opening the temple grounds for special exhibitions of art and other creations. In 2018, the RYOSOKU program began. This is a concrete attempt to reimagine the future of Ryosoku-in, to envision new facilities and functions we could offer for meditation, accommodation, and burial.


When I first saw Mr. Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photographic work "Lightning Fields," and learnt of his words, “Religion and art are both matter of technique, and science is also a technique,” I felt an invisible spatiality and spirituality. I felt that this art of materializing invisible spirit dovetailed with my philosophy of Zen. I was immediately struck by the value of this work and wanted to pass it on to the next generation.  


Before it was scientifically proven that lightning is electricity, it was thought to be the wrath of a god, an incarnation of a rain-giving dragon, or the haunting of a grudge. Yet, I have often felt such flashes of light in darkness within my own heart. I think this spark symbolizes the strength of imagination and power needed to survive in the modern world.  

Unryu-zu (paintings of the dragon and clouds) are seen on the ceilings and fusuma sliding doors of Rinzai sect Buddhist temples.The dragon is a symbol of nature in ancient China, and together with the Kirin, Phoenix, and Spirit Turtle, it is considered one of the Four Sacred Beasts. It is said to appear only when the world is at peace. The scales are drawn after a carp’s, the horns after a deer’s, the head after a camel’s, the eyes after a rabbit’s (or ogre’s), the neck after a snake’s, the belly after a shen’s (a creature that creates mirages), the claws after a hawk’s, the hands after a tiger’s, and the ears after a cow’s. The dragon is a god, one of the eight guardians who help spread the Buddha's teachings. It is said to bring down the teaching like a falling rain and, as the god of water, it  protects people from fire. When the dragon appears, the wind blows, rain falls, and thunder roars; the image of the dragon in our imaginations may be one of hope. This is what I feel in Mr. Sugimoto’s work.

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