Shrines Of Ise, Great and Small

When I was in Japan in 2006, I visited the Great Shrine of Ise. Every 20 years for the last two millennia it’s been rebuilt out of Japanese Cypress trees using ancient construction methods, so that it’s “forever new and forever ancient and original”. Only one priest(ess) can enter the central shrine, within which there is supposedly an ancient mirror cocooned in cloth bag after cloth bag. There are tame deer roaming the town, which just heightens the surreal / mythical qualities of the place.

There is an ancient forest there, and it looks like visitors have built tiny shrines to the huge trees. These small shrines were the most memorable for me.

You can’t tell from this photo, but this tree is absolutely huge. I could have easily crawled underneath it.

City Within A City

Here’s an extraordinary TED Talk by Ron Eglash on the use of fractals in African city-planning:


Around 4:17, Eglash describes a village in which oval houses are organized into an oval ring. There’s an oval shrine in the center of each house.

In the center of the large ring, there’s another smaller ring of oval houses where the chief’s family lives. And in the center of that, there’s a miniature “spirit village” where the ancestors live. The spirit village also has a miniature of itself in its center.

In the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, there is the Panorama Of the City Of New York, a detailed model of New York City and all the boroughs, with every building represented in miniature.

It was built in the 1960’s, and there haven’t been too many updates since then. However, they have updated Flushing Meadows Corona Park, presumably so people can say “we are here” and point to it. There’s even a mini-Queens Museum. It’s the rectangular building to the right of the Unisphere globe.

I like to think there’s a mini-panorama within that. If you were the model-maker, wouldn’t you build one?

Past & Future

Representations of the ancient past and the distant future are juxtaposed in a really weird, surreal way in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

I love seeing the Jetson-style towers of the New York Pavillion behind this Corythosaurus. The dinosaurs aren’t there anymore. The towers are still standing, but in ruin.

More vintage photos from Sinclair Oil’s “Dinoland” can be found at Gorillas Don’t Blog.