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Ikebana Exchanges
Daikakuji Temple, Saga Goryu School, and Rijksmuseum

Daikakuji Temple, the head temple of the Daikakuji School of the Shingon sect, in Ukyo Ward, Kyoto, and "Saga Goryu," a flower arrangement school, have deepened cultural exchanges with the Rijksmuseum, a Dutch national museum in the Netherlands. After Rijksmuseum officials visited the museum last fall to hold a Buddhist service with flower-offering ceremonies "Kenka-shiki Tsuki Kaigen Kuyo" for the Nio-zo statues, or the two Deva Kings, museum-related officials were invited to convey the attraction of "Ikebana," or Japanese flower arrangement, in mid-April. Both sides enthusiastically said, "We would like to deepen our friendships which dates back to the Edo Period."

Invitation to the "Kado Festival" for cultural exchange follows "Kaigen Kuyo"

The museum is known for its archive of 17th century Dutch paintings. In April 2013, the Asian Pavilion was newly established to display Oriental art objects, and Nio-zo statues once enshrined in the Iwayaji Temple, Okuizumo-cho, Shimane Prefecture, have been on display.

The Nio-zo statues are reported to have been made during the 14th century and are of unknown authorship. The museum bought it from Japanese fine arts dealer in 2007. Menno Fitski, the curator in charge, was deeply distressed at the ruined Iwayaji Temple and planned to hold a "Kaigen Kuyo," or ceremony to consecrate a newly made Buddhist image, for the Nio-zo statues. Since the Dutch royal family and the Japanese Imperial Family have maintained close relations with each other, he approached Daikakuji Temple, saying, "We would like to ask the cooperation of Daikakuji Temple as the temple is connected with Emperor Saga and has passed down the Saga Goryu School of Japanese flower arrangement." The temple's ready consent was then obtained. Mika Tsujii, head of Saga Goryu School, recalled, "They deeply understood the spirituality of ensouling Buddhist statues. I was impressed as it's the same thing that I can see in one of the values found through Japanese flower arrangement which is cherishing life."

Kaigen Kuyo was held in October 2013 inside the museum by 18 Buddhist monks from the Daikakuji Temple, and Saga Goryu's flower offering ceremony was held as well. This formed a connection, and a total of six people, including curators, the consul general of the Netherlands in Osaka/Kobe, and others, were invited to the shrine precincts on April 13, where the grand ceremony of Saga Goryu School "Saga Tenno Hoken Kado-sai," or a dedication ceremony for Emperor Saga with Japanese flower arrangement, was held. Attendees from the Netherlands learned the attraction of Japanese flower arrangement from Mika Tsujii and were able to better understand Japanese traditional culture.

Fitski said, "The Nio-zo statues looked strangely joyful after the Kaigen Kuyo was held. Daikakuji Temple succeeded in bringing the statues to life." Eishin Kusatsu, the executive priest of Daikakuji Temple, said expectantly, "We want to advance exchanges with Netherlanders who are understanding of different cultures in the future."

(translated by Galileo, Inc.)

Photo= A Dutch party receives an explanation of Japanese flower arrangement from Mika Tsujii (right) = Daikakuji Temple, Ukyo Ward, Kyoto Photo (top) ; Kaigen Kuyo for the Nio-zo statues and a flower-offering ceremony conducted at the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands (October 13, 2013)

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