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Adventures of Kura

Kura’s Pilgrimage to Ise, Adventures of Sight

Sometimes as I walk along the street, I unexpectedly come across myself, past, present or future; close friends that I am unlikely to meet again; or past visions of my elder brother or mother.  Of course they are really just strangers who possess an aura similar to the people I mistake them for, but when it happens, I feel as if I have discovered a tiny light amidst the darkness.  The light is only fleeting, then the next moment I realize that whatever likeness I thought I had seen was simply a delusion and they return to being a stranger once more.   So, before the light disappears, I quickly move my left and right hands.

However, I do not have a sentimental eye.  When my way of looking at things takes the form of photographs, it generally tends to be extremely cold.  I had thought that this was quite normal, but now I know that it varies from person to person.  Be this as it may, I cannot help but feel a fondness for this way of looking at things that I have developed over the course of my life.


A pilgrimage to Ise involves traveling to the Ise Shrine in Mie Prefecture.  During the Edo period (1603-1868) the general populace was not free to travel at will, but pilgrimages were allowed and were extremely popular.  After visiting the shrine, many of the people would continue on to Kyoto or Osaka to enjoy the sights there.  In other words, a pilgrimage to Ise was not just a religious journey was also undertaken as a form of recreation.  This was the kind of a pretext that I needed.  Living in Tokyo, I was feeling discouraged about my photographs and needed to get away for a change of mood, but I could not travel without my camera.  Travel has a lyrical sound to it that I felt did not suit me. 

The upshot was that I set out from Nihonbashi Bridge in Tokyo to travel down the roads surrounding the old Tokaido Highway all the way to Ise, then on to Kyoto and Osaka, not limiting my photography to the famous sights.  I gradually began to work westwards from Tokyo, starting with a day trips until I reached a little way beyond Atami, then making numerous trips of a few days each, photographing as I went.  I exhibited the work while I was still working on the project and in the process, I began to make various experiments, by trial and error, in the way I looked at things.  I tried to correct my eye, to produce work that although not be liked by the viewers, at least would not be disliked, and found that this was both easy yet difficult to achieve.  In the end, I decided that there was nothing wrong with there being people who looked at things in a disagreeable way, just as long that there was nothing so repellant that people could not bear it.


It is not a bad thing to be different to others.  This is something that I finally realized through my adventures of sight. 

Masumi Kura












蔵 真墨

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