Nihonga Painter

Mukai Daisuke and Matsubara Ami

“We’d like you to make ceiling paintings for a temple with historical ties to Matsuo Bashō.” Receiving this unexpected request seemed like a stroke of good fortune.

We first asked to look at the site, and we were graciously welcomed for a visit. The temple and the hall are splendid, of course, but we were deeply impressed by the town and the scenes we saw on the way to the temple. It brought to mind images of Bashō, walking those streets during bygone days. Also, the temple garden, planted with flowers that bloom through the seasons, seemed to connect to the world of Bashō’s haiku and the depiction of natural scenes. We decided we’d use these as a source of inspiration, and to depict the lotus pond that the name of the temple evokes.

We were told we could paint whatever we wanted, with one proviso: the work should include something never before seen in a ceiling painting. It is typical with a coffered ceiling to paint a different picture in each panel, but we decided to try to paint one picture across the entire ceiling. It is not as if you are looking out at a lotus pond, but rather that a lotus pond extends into the distance as you look above… We hope that this painting serves as a bridge between the classical sensibility of Bashō and those of us who live in the present.