The Ringing of the Stones

Several years ago I produced an educational touring program to Japan for a group of art specialists under the title - The Origins of the Japanese Aesthetic. The program was organized by art consultant Deborah Gage in London and sponsored by the Japan Society of New York. Our special guest lecturer was Michael Dunn who provided an ongoing dialog on the artistic and cultural traditions of Japan throughout our two week discovery. While touring the island of Shikoku, I felt it was essential to showcase the Sanukite Ringing Stones which are unique to Kagawa Prefecture. In collaboration with the Prefecture of Kagawa and Mari Ueno-Phillippi, I received special permission to hold a music recital in the Kikugetsu-tei Teahouse overlooking the magnificent Ritsurin Garden in downtown Takamatsu. In exchange, I allowed the local prefectural goverment to film this concert in an effort to preserve this lost tradition. This short clip of the recital was performed by one of only four remaining master players in Japan. 

Ritsurin Park (former Matsudaira Family Estate)
Takamatsu was founded in the Kamakura period (1185 - 1333), and in 1588, Toyotomi Hideyoshi's retainer, Ikoma Chikamasa built a castle on the Tamamo Coast and named it Takamatsu Castle. The Ikoma family ruled Takamatsu for 54 years and then the Matsudaira family ruled for 220 years. During the Meiji Restoration when the feudal system was abolished, Takamatsu became the capital of Kagawa Prefecture. Takamatsu was incorporated as a municipality on February 15, 1890, becoming the 40th incorporated city in Japan.
If you plan to visit Takamatsu on the Island of Shikoku, you can travel by air, rail or car. The easiest way is a quick one hour flight from Tokyo Haneda International Airport. If you are arriving from western or central Japan, you can also take convenient rail service or car over the Seto Ohashi Bridge which is the world's longest two-tiered bridge system. 

Just a short stroll from JR Takamatsu Station is the lovely Takamatsu Castle which is one of just three castles in Japan surrounded by moats. Downtown Takamatsu is also home to Ritsurin Park which is one of Japan's great strolling gardens. Construction started around 1625 by Takatoshi Ikoma, the feudal lord of Takamatsu, and took about 100 years with successive feudal lords to complete in 1745. Here you can enjoy a delicious bowl of matcha green tea in the Kikugetsutei Pavilion. This is also the location where I produced the Ringing Stones Concert noted above. 

Takamatsu is also the gateway to two of my favorite art destinations in Japan. The first is the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum in Mure, which is a suburb of Takamatsu. This quiet place provides guests a glimpse of the inspiration behind Noguchi's sculptures. You will encounter hundreds of sculptures at his atelier and have an opportunity to peek inside his beautiful home. 

A journey to Mure is a passage. It is a sanctuary for his superb sculptures, and is a place ideally suited to the discovery and pursuit of one's self.
Issey Miyake

While in the neighborhood one cannot miss the most delicious udon noodles in all of Japan at Yamada-ya. If you are interested in the preservation of heritage architecture, Shikoku Mura is an open air museum and home to farmhouses, a kabuki theatre and a variety of other structures from the Edo to Taisho Periods that were destined to destruction during Japan's rapid economic development. 

The second world class art destination is Art Site Noashima which is just a 50 minutes ferry ride from Takamatsu Port. 

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