Ise Shrine Lecture 2-3 Notes.docx

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Department
History of Art and Architecture
Course Code
History of Art and Architecture 11
Professor
Neil Levine

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HAA11 Lectures 2/3: The Ise Shrine Complex; The Ise Shrines, Ise City, Mie Prefecture, Japan Holiest site of Shinto religion Most popular pilgrimage destination in Japan, prayers would be answered with bountiful harvest Center for ideas of Shinto, rallying point for social unrest when the Shogunate was overthrown 7 million visitors per year, continues to be popular attraction since leaving control of government Most influential architecture in Japan Frank Lloyd Wright was fascinated with the Ise Shrines’simple, austere design, integration to natural setting One of the great architectural feats of history th Every 20 years, the Ise Shrines are built from the ground up since the late 7 century when they were renewed (total of 62 rebuildings, most recent was the fall of 2013, started in 2005) -first exception was the civil war in the late 15 and 16 centuries -second was during WWII, delayed the rebuilding by 4 years The shrines are dismantled and rebuilt (all 125 shrine buildings, everything, bridges included and treasure within and tools that are used are rebuilt) The entire process takes 8 years 32 ceremonies involved (felling of first tree, raising of first pillar, etc.) Ise has 3 imperial regalia, mirror, shield, sword The rest of the regalia (1500 swords are cast every 20 years) is continually remade 190,000 carpenters-days are involved Total cost of last renewal was 500 million dollars (much of which from visitors and private donors) The dismantled pieces (timber) are often recycled into shrines in other locations The components of Ise are transplanted as relics into other locations The structures are built with as much the same precision and exactitude as the previous rebuilding Maintain the purity of the age of the gods th Ise is an architectural conundrum (dates back to 7 century, but the physical manifestations are only a few months old) There is a distinction between its physicality and the ideas it represents The shrines begin to age and decay rather quickly; architecture has a metabolism, involves entropy and regeneration (temporality of the world in contrast with monumentality of the shrines) Ise City is located in the northwestern part of the peninsula in the middle-south of Japan’s main island, surrounded by mountains The inner (deity of sun goddessAmaterasu) and outer sanctuaries of the Ise are 5 km apart -inner has a pair of courtyards, one with main shrine and two smaller treasuries, the other laying fallow for the next renewal Many (4) fences surround the inner courtyard Main shrine is simple, unpainted wood with raised floor, rectangular building (3 x 2 bays) Pillars of the building are driven straight into the soil Thatched gable roof that faces South (15 m in length, 10 in width, about 3 stories tall) The roof has forked finials with horizontal billets (logs) capped with bronze Wooden pegs stick out from each gable end Space inside is non-partitioned, pillars and planks are not within the interior structure Ise is built with Japanese cypress wood (best architectural wood in Japan), which has appealing color and aroma, is straight-grained, can grow to 40 meters in length, harvested from central alps in Japan (creamy hues and sheens in the sun; wood is durable and usually centuries old, but the bacteria in the soil can decay the wood) Reed bundles are used in the roofing Ends of timber components that protrude from the building as well as wood on the staircase and balustrade has bronze and gold ornamentation There are few nails used in the buildings, as the construction is often fitting wood in joinery to leave for a flexible building that can sustain expansion and earthquakes (very very impressive and precise architecture) Many rice granaries are built in a similar manner with raised floor and structure that resembles Ise shrines, in fact, the shrines are based somewhat off of these granaries, using them as prototypes Negative forces of nature (famine, drought, pestilence) that affect agriculture and human health are associated with deities whom the Japanese wished to appease so that the spirits would not harm them Topography helped to determine the location of the site The strategic location of Ise Bay is important, as the Japanese sent the timber down rivers to the bay to rebuild the shrines, not to mention the mil
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