Shin–to. The energy of nature. Japan with Andrey Zeigarnik and Elena Aframova

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May 15, 2015 – May 24, 2015

Genre: Art, Street

The workshop has been completed

Manager: Елена Афрамова

Photos of the workshop participants

Here you can view the photos, taken by the workshop participants. These are the best works, selected by the master in the process of joint discussions.


© Andriy Sanosyan

© Andriy Sanosyan

© Sapozhnikova Galina

43 photos from 7 authors

Lead photographer

Andrey Zeygarnik

Photographer, specialized in art-photography since 2003. A chemist by education. Has various interests, and a number of publications in the areas of chemistry, physics, mathematics, artificial intelligence, history of psychology, theory of photography. Works in a publishing house. Teaches courses on theory of composition in photography.

List of participants is visible to the club members, who have attended at least one workshop.

About the workshop

Shinto, life of devotion in a universe of spirits, isn’t some quaint folk tradition. It’s a magical realism whose pervading influence Japanese feel from first day to last.

You’ll begin your encounter with Shinto in Japan’s capital Tokyo — a megapolis humans share with ghosts of ancestors, spirits of temples, water, earth and more. You’ll visit Sanja, one of Tokyo’s most important Shinto festivals, and find contemporary art and architecture where least expected — on Seto Islands in Inland Sea. Seto archipelago is a unique project to transform several dying islands into a world-class culture center. Natural energies have inspired the many painters, photographers and architects whose work is showcased here. Instead of being locked up in galleries for a high concentration of talent per meter, these creations became part of the environment and landscape, living out their forms under the sky and sharing their creative charge with the viewer.

We’ll end the trip with a brief stop and a short taste of Japan’s medieval capital Kyoto, the birthplace of the country’s elegance, and have dinner at Kamo river, where water spirits kappa are said to dwell.

Program hide

May 15-19

May 15
Arrival day.
Arrival to Narita airport.

Check-in to a hotel in Roppongi, and a dinner with an introduction.

May 16

Asakusa — Sanja festival.

During your visit to this important festival, which lasts several days, you’ll witness Tokyo residents in traditional dress propitiate spirits at small shrines of Taito district and the capital’s central Buddhist temple — Sensoji in Asakusa.

Open-air celebrations, players with folk instruments, special food, litter-bearers carrying mikoshi, «houses of the gods,» from each Tokyo district to the central Buddhist temple, Sensoji.

We’ll have lunch in a traditional restaurant by the temple. Its piece de resistance is marbled-beef sukiyaki.

Once twilight sets in, lights flare up, magic flows with folk music. Thuds of taiko drums stir up the fervor of mikoshi-carrying processions, displacing the modern world and transporting the crowd into the times of ancient Edo.

May 17
Morning in Asakusa.

By 4 a.m. people begin to gather near Sensoji, eager to shoulder one of the three most revered (and heaviest, up to several tons) mikoshi. Around 6 a.m. candidate parties begin to struggle for the privilege, sometimes quite violently, which is no surprise considering that yakuza, Japanese mafia, are among the main patrons of the Sanja festival.

We’ll take a taxi out of the hotel at 7 a.m. and wait as alleyways by the temple begin to fill with city people waiting for the first mikoshi. At 8 a.m. the procession comes out of the temple, carrying their divine burden and shouting «A-sa-ku-sa, a-sa-ku-sa!» Zeal, aggression and swirling energy — a disturbing sight for the world’s capital of good manners.

We’ll return to the hotel, rest and thumb through the morning’s photos.

12:00 p.m. — 1 p.m.  first discussion of pictures taken at the festival.

At 2:30 p.m. we’ll drive out to Yoyogi park in Shibuya.

Weekend recreation. From a reenactment of old Edo we travel to a corner of tamed wilderness where Tokyo people gather for a respite before the next working week. Every Sunday by the park entrance Elvises (Japanese Elvises, of course) gather to do their thang — a sight to remember. Going further in, you meet all sorts: people practice darbukas and saxophones away from knocking neighbors, others in pretty clothes, boots and sunglasses parade small and puny dogs, still others juggle, dance hip-hop, spread out picnics in tree shade or sleep. Tokyo lives at a frantic pace, and sleep here comes at a premium almost as high as the land price.

Next on the schedule is Shibuya in evening lights. Its central crossing is the most turbulent in the world. Two million people pass through it in a day. Tall buildings, stark neon, facade-wide screens, this is the Tokyo you expected to find.

May 18
9:30 a.m. — 11:00 a.m. second picture review.

Time off for shopping. Those who wish to continue shooting on the streets will be suggested where. We’ll have supper together in a skyscraper’s restaurant high above the town.

This is the day to chat, enjoy the views and the food. Saying goodbye to Tokyo, let’s hold on to the thought that in this city with an intersection trampled every day by two million people there are hidden pockets of solitude. Everyday routine is only a part of a Tokyo resident’s life.

May 19-22
Seto Islands.

May 19

Japan is famous for its smart design and the ability to tastefully deliver visual experiences, including the look of food. This ability comes from an ancient tradition of extracting the natural beauty of materials, tastes and colors from the chaos of life. A Japanese painter, architect or cook, however famous, always feels himself, herself, an apprentice. Magical realism keeps his or her creative vision sharp. Japanese artists consider themselves conductors and orchestrators of natural energies rather than masterminds. But a picture is a worth a thousand words, and so right after breakfast we’ll check out of our Tokyo hotel and head for Seto Islands in the Inland Sea. The trip will take 4 hours. We’ll ride the bullet train to the city of Okayama, then descend by tram to Uno harbor and finally make a short ferry journey to Naoshima Island. The famous architect Tadao Ando has d several structures for Naoshima. He believes that the project’s goal is a «complete melding of nature with architecture and art.» We will stay in a concept hostel on the shores of the Japanese sea, where we can dine all together listening to the sounds of the ocean. Then feel free to take a walk in the vicinity and discover art objects strewn by the sea shore, or stay on the terrace and watch Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photos from the Seascapes series as the Inland Sea sighs on the shore.

May 20

9:00 a.m. — 10:30 a.m. third review.

Far from cities’ hustle and bustle we’ll delve deeper into a realm of pure art. Chichu is a gallery designed by Tadao Ando. Built into a hillside, it preserves the landscape outline and uses mostly natural lighting. There are only three exhibits on display within, each group in its own specially constructed hall. They are: enormous reproductions of Claude Monet’s Water Lilies, so illuminated and set up that they give the viewer an almost reverent chill; a few works by James Turrell, who makes installations using light; and a colossal marble orb that looks about to come rolling down a stairs that takes up most of the hall. This one was d by Walter De Maria. In front of Chichu gallery the lily pond garden that inspired Monet has been red. Architecture, lighting and presentation form one harmonious ensemble with the exhibits.
Korean artist’s Lee Ufan’s museum is another work of Ando. It is thoroughly minimalist, and Ando’s style shows itself in smooth concrete walls and a maze of passages, inviting to self-discovery. Seto Islands’ art project is a fine and gentle instructor in presentation and taste. Before the dinner you are all invited to visit a unique communal bath with a very saying name «I LOVE YOU», which is also, just like everything else on this island, an art project. After all, when else would you have a chance to take a bath in an eclectic space, where a like-like elephant rises above you head.

May 21
Teshima Island.

10:00 a.m. — 11:30 a.m.  fourth review.

We’ll start with a short ferry trip to Teshima Island to see its main architectural object — The by Ryue Nishizawa (architect) and Rei Naito (sculptor). Approaching the , we’ll see terraced rice fields and a distant sea. The construction itself has no beams or other supports, no windows. We’ll be asked to take our shoes off before coming into this snow-white smooth shape 40 by 60 meters that looks like a  or an alien ship. It is empty inside. After a rain water gathers on thin web strands, rolling in lets on the floor, and external light plays off the floor and walls. Sometimes the rustling of trees outside can be heard, and then silence inside the becomes even more palpable. It’s hard to image that an artificial creation can be so life-like.

We’ll have lunch in the only restaurant on the island. Its menu has only three choices, but all of them are delicious and made of organic products.

After lunch we take a ferry from Teshima, jump on a bus, and then a bullet train towards Kyoto. Arrival to Kyoto, and check—in to the hotel in the center of the old town. Evening promenade in Pontocho district, where bars and small restaurants line in side by side. We’ll have supper in one of the restaurants by Kamo river. Summer is coming, verandas have just opened, so we’ll eat out on woven rugs like figures from Edo period engravings. Afterwards you can stroll by Kamo for a chance to see a water-dwelling kappa.

May 22

May is the period of watching the fresh green maple leaves. Like every year, the tiniest weather changes are reflected in the seasonal estethics. We will walk along the philosopher’s trail, where tea houses lost in fresh greenery stand next to sinto temples and shrines, with people strolling by wearing traditional kimono.

4 p.m.  Gion, the geisha district. Narrow streets, a traditional environment... In twilight hours pretty lanterns light up in the geisha district, and you might glimpse a real geisha going to meet her clients.

May 23

10:00 a.m.  12:00 p.m. — time off in the city. Both shoppers and snappers will be suggested places to go.

7 p.m.  Supper and the final photography review session.

May 24

Departure from Kansai or Itami airport.