Visit this unique gallery run by the art-loving head priest of Chohouin Temple for a meditative conversation with the carefully selected art pieces on display.
Located on the temple grounds in the quiet Kuramae area of east Tokyo, Kurenboh is more than just a gallery. A longtime dream of Buddhist priest Akiyoshi Taniguchi, this small serene space invites the viewer to engage in contemplative appreciation of the works on exhibit. After entering a small door reminiscent of the nijiriguchi entrance to a formal tea room, one walks along a short gravel path before entering a completely white two-room space (no shoes allowed inside). Gently curving walls at both the ceiling and floor diffuse the conventional horizontal and vertical lines, enveloping the visitor in a softly pleasant white light that makes the few pieces of art stand out all the more clearly. Only one person is allowed into the space at a time, which allows the time and space necessary to meditate deeply on the exhibits. It is this meeting between the viewer and the art that Taniguchi wanted to explore when he opened the gallery in 2006.
In his youth, Taniguchi studied photography in New York. Already at that time, more than 30 years ago, he had the idea to create a special place for art back home in Tokyo near his family’s temple. His interest in art and photography in particular was spurred early on by his grandfather. “I have a vivid memory of my grandfather developing photographs right here in the temple,” Taniguchi explains. Having published three books of his own photography, his appreciation of art goes beyond the usual definition of a gallerist. “Kurenboh is in no way a commercial gallery. Rather than financial value Taniguchi is more interested in how art can enrich peoples’ lives,” he says.
Two to three times a year, Taniguchi invites other artists, such as Rei Naito or fellow photographers Ken Morisawa and Masahiro Kodaira, to display a few of their works in the pristine interior of the gallery. The selections are made for their potential to engage with the viewers rather than for any novelty of expression, as Taniguchi believes that art needs to be felt and experienced rather than just viewed just as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote in The Little Prince, 'It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.’
The meditative quality of the space encourages the viewer to slow down and truly take in the art works in deep contemplation. According to Taniguchi, many leave profoundly touched by the experience, and come back for more at subsequent exhibitions.
Note that visits must be pre-booked at least two days in advance by e-mail and that only one visitor is allowed to enter the gallery at a time. When exhibitions are held the gallery is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays between 10:00 and 15:00. Taniguchi is happy to give visitors a tour of the Chohouin Temple in connection with their visit. Also kindly note that the gallery is not open when exhibitions are not being held.
See kurenboh.com for further details and news about current and upcoming exhibitions.