“Kami and Sanctuary” 1990”

Graphite on paper, 30” x 42”. Collection of Jay & Sarah Piccone Nakashima

Perhaps I was looking a lot at Picasso (which of course I always do).  The head on the right comes from two of my favorite sources.  Hitotsu/me/kozo (the one/eyed/boy with a hunchback) is often pictured sweeping the grounds of a Zen temple.  I think (that like the pre-Buddhist Yamantaka) he was a kind of bodhisattva of compassion.  The story I have heard goes something like this:   Hitotsumekozo was busy sweeping the grounds.  On seeing him the village children decide to tease him so they sneak up and start switching him on his deformed back.  At that point Hitotsumekozo swings around and casts his single eye upon them!  They freak out and run off screaming.

Its A short but instructive story.  I have always thought that by scaring them,  Hitotsumekozo taught the children that they should have compassion for those who are different.  At age 11 in Dubuque Iowa, I felt somewhat like Hitotsumekozo.  My family was the only Japanese American family in a city of 60,000.  It was not until I was in my late 30s that I would have my first friend with Japanese ancestry. Someone observed that the fish in the sanctuary is a “fish out of water” and that perhaps it is – me.   Could be?

Perhaps evolved  from Hitotsumekozo is the figure of the Kami in my works featuring the Kami.  The Kamikaze is a Nature Spirit whose soul may dwell inside trees and rocks etc. The word Kamikaze comes to mind, for it was the Devine Wind (Kamikaze) that saved the Japanese ships from the powerful Mongol fleet.  And of course the name was reinvented during WWII in an attempt to save Japan from the invading Americans.





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