Mud and Moss – Toshodaiji
I took these photos of the mud and moss that makes up the foundations of the fantastic Toshodaiji (唐招提寺) outside of Nara, one of Japan’s ancient capitals. The temple’s history stretches back to 759 AD when the founding letters were written, but when I visited late last summer I was most struck by the fantastic layer of moss and the thick mud and reused tile walls that partition the different sections of the temple grounds. There is something essential in how the woodland parts of the temple grounds have turned into the thin trees with a thick canopy and the almost bare undergrowth with the thick moss, it looks more like a designed room than the natural space it is. It must have taken great patience to let nature create something like this! The walls are also wonderful examples of patience, mud, gravel and old tiles are reused to create thick massive walls that would stand up to almost anything, except the rain, eventually wearing the walls down to the earth it came from. I am sure when that happens, someone will be around to pick up the old tiles and start building a new wall, a very slow cycle of life. Besides, these tiles that are used in the wall were probably recycled already hundreds of years ago. Who knows in what century someone took the trouble to firing them? Or even in what millennia?