Pilgrimage is the oldest human activity bringing nature, culture and the divine together in a journey in search for spiritual union with the divine. Along this journey, nature and the divine are revered accompanied by cultural manifestations, such as rituals, art, and architecture. The journey allows one to search for spirituality, to rethink one's relationship with nature and the divine, and to understand oneself. The land of the divine is usually magical, mythical, and stunningly beautiful. This is Kii Peninsula, to the south of the Yamato plain where early capitals of Japan were located. Some of the earliest sites for pilgrimage relating to Shinto deities are located in Kumano, in the region of Wakayama, with mountains rising to great height meeting the gushing sea.
This tour will explore the mystery and sacredness of the land of Shinto legends and gods in Kumano, one of the three sites in Japan designated as UNESCO World Heritage, and the Grand Shrines of Ise. The tour will also survey some temples, and monasteries in Nara and Kyoto for Buddhist interpretation of nature and the divine, expressed in garden art and Pure Land monasteries. Pilgrimage to contemporary art sites will allow one to reconsider one’s relationship with nature and the divine through art, installation and contemporary architecture in Naoshima and its neighbouring islands. This is a journey connecting the ancient past to the present, connecting one with nature, and interpreting such relationship through art, culture and architecture.
Professor Puay-peng Ho is Professor and Director of the School of Architecture and Director of the Centre for Architectural Heritage Research, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. Professor Ho received his First Class Honours degree in Architecture from the University of Edinburgh and a PhD in Art History from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. His thesis was focused on Buddhist art and architecture of the Tang dynasty. Professor Ho is a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and the Society of Architectural Historians. Currently, he serves on the Town Planning Board, the Antiquities Advisory Board and the History Museum Advisory Panel, and is Chairman of the Council of Lord Wilson Heritage Trust. His research interests and publications are in the areas of Chinese art and architectural history, vernacular architecture, and architectural theory. He is also involved in many architecture conservation projects in Hong Kong.