I'm just back from a few weeks researching gardens in Japan, the kind of Zen-type designs that are most idealized in a place like Ryoan-ji. The wonderful thing about Japan, like so many modern contemporary places today, is the ancient-modern juxtaposition that stares you down around every corner. You can walk out of the austerity of a 500-year old garden and in five minutes be at the local 7-11 skimming pages of the latest manga series. Which is somewhat what I did.
Along the way I stumbled upon the manga title Seinto oniisan, which usually gets translated into English as "Saint Young Men," but also carries "brotherly" connotations. The brothers in question are none other than Jesus and Buddha, who take a vacation from otherworldly life to shack up together in the Tokyo suburb, Nachikawa. They share a spartan, tatami-clad flat, wonder over new technology, do their own laundry (mostly jeans and t-shirts with various Buddhist and Christian references), visit amusement parks, get their food from the local 7-11, and celebrate Christmas and Shinto festivals.
continue reading at NYU's The Revealer
Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)