Deer Man

When inspecting the cityscape of Tokyo carefully, one realizes that the city is made up of several invisible layers that are hidden underneath the superficial streetscape we are usually seeing.

For example, up to the Neolithic age, the coast of Tokyo Bay was shaped like a fjord, with numerous cape-like indentations that allowed the marine water to flow far up north to what is now the heart of the city. The citizens of Tokyo at the time were considering those capes highly spiritual places, and declared such areas holy ground, or built cemeteries there. There are still shrines and temples remaining at those points today.

Once you peel off the asphalt and see what's underneath, what looks from above like your old familiar Tokyo street turns out to be only the surface of a web of water supply and sewerage systems, circuit lines, gas pipes, and subway tunnels. What pulsates in the underground could be described as a network of Tokyo's arteries and veins.
I imagine that something like the ancient memory of Tokyo, which has been gradually eaten away, and locked away from daylight in the process of the city's growth, is now wriggling somewhere deep down in the underground.
This image is closely connected to a vague idea that I've been bearing in the back of my mind for years, and that is heavily rocked by it.

Now I wonder, is it possible to dive through niches in the city, down into the bowels of the earth, or to the depth of our consciousness? It would be a quest for that certain "something" that we all know for sure, but that is buried deep down in our conscious mind. I would love to do this kind of legwork here in Tokyo.

But how can we find the niches that let us through? Who can be our pilot?
I appointed the "Deer Man".

Why? To answer this I have to go back a few years in time, to a Buddhist memorial service at the Nigatsudo (hall) of Nara's Todaiji temple. I attended the "shunie" that includes the famous water-drawing ceremony, a ritual with a 1200-year-long history. I arrived at Nara late at night, and proceeded to the temple straight away. The streets were deserted and hooded in complete darkness. When entering the temple grounds, I spotted something flashing, and moving!!
I was looking into the eyes of deer. In that moment I got the strange feeling of being deep inside in a dark forest. As if guided by the animals' shining eyes, I walked up to the venue.

The next surprise came when I visited the temple again the next morning: what awaited me there was the hustle and bustle of streets crowded with people. The precincts of Todaiji had turned overnight into a typical tourist spot, which made me wonder whether my experience of the previous night was some kind of dream or vision. There were, however, many deer. But the way they stuffed their mouths with rice crackers tourists were feeding them made them look very much unlike the mysterious creatures that appeared out of the darkness the night before.
This incident reminded me of what is often told in mythology: deer function as messengers that travel back and forth between reality and the underworld.

Deer always stare at us out of the depth of a forest, and I was intrigued by that penetrating stare. Deer's antlers symbolize generative power, and at the same time they serve as antennas. I send my own deer man into the contemporary city, and look forward to seeing what he digs up.

Deer Man(鹿男)



また、日常見慣れた東京の当たり前の風景でも、一度アスファルトで固められた地面を引き剥がしてみると、上下水道や電気、ガスの管、さらには地下鉄まで、まるで動脈や静脈のように張り巡らされている。 私は想像する。都市が成長していく過程で、どんどん侵食され封じ込められてしまった旧い記憶のような存在が、このような決して光が当らない地下世界で蠢いていることを。


私が選んだのはDeer Man(鹿男)だ。では、なぜ私は鹿を選んだか。

 数年前に東大寺・二月堂における法要、1200年の歴史を持つ行法「お水取り」で有名な修二会(しゅにえ)を観に行った時の出来事。私は夜遅くに奈良へ入った。早速に寺へ向うと、道のりは人気もなく、街中と思えないほどに闇が深かった。そして境内に入ると何やら光るものが動いている!! それは鹿の眼だった。その時、私は森の奥深くにまで入り込んでしまったような、不思議な錯覚に陥ってしまった。そして、まるで光る眼を持つ鹿たちに導かれるように二月堂へと歩いていった。



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