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Farewell Heisei - Japanese Photobook Limited on Sale
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What on earth are we doing as we're having this kind of visual experience?
To suddenly switch gears to ancient Japan, around the time that books like the Kojiki and Manyoshu were being written, there was a ceremony or activity known as kunimi (lit., "land viewing").
In spring just before planting started, people would decide on a day to assemble and head for a nearby mountain. They probably also brought along something to eat and drink. From this high place, they looked down on their own paddies and fields, and admired the scene. Happy to be fortunate enough to own such a good piece of land, they prayed for an abundant crop. Cultural anthropologists call this an "advance blessing."
Later, this became the responsibility of a local chieftain, who would recite a poem on such occasions. Yamato Takeru's farewell poem is one famous example:
Yamato wa kuni no mahoroba
Yamakomoreru yamatoshi uruwashi
Yamato, what a supreme land
Enclosed by verdant walls lining the surrounding hills
Great Yamato, unrivaled in its beauty
In fact, a kunimi poem that was recited on another occasion is thought to be embedded in this one.
For these people, looking was an act of praise, and looking at their land from a high place was a form of glorification and benediction.
After learning this, I understood the meaning concealed in this photo book.
――――Natsuki Ikezawa "Sky of Sapporo, Sky of the World"