Architecture for Spirituality: Ise Grand Shrine and La Sagrada Família

November 19, 2014
past event image
Lecture past event

How has the design of two iconic places of worship affected Japanese architecture? This lecture focuses on the design and construction of the Ise Grand Shrine, the most sacred place in all of Shintoism and La Sagrada Família, the legendary Gaudí-designed basilica that broke ground in Barcelona, Spain 132 years ago and is still under construction to this day. The entire Ise Grand Shrine is rebuilt every 20 years, most recently in 2013. Tsunekiyo Tanaka, President of Jinja-Honcho (the Association of Shinto Shrines), will speak about the Ise Grand Shrine’s unique characteristics, in particular its renowned impermanence. Sculptor Etsuro Sotoo will discuss his award-winning work at La Sagrada Família since 1973. This event is moderated by Il Kim, Ph. D., who currently teaches at Auburn University’s School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture. Followed by a reception.

: $12/$8 Japan Society members, seniors & students

About the Panelists

Rev. Tsunekiyo Tanaka
was born in 1944. He graduated from Kokugakuin University in 1969 with a degree in Shinto Studies. He became Chief Priest of the Iwashimizu Hachimangu in 2001, and was elected to be President of Jinja Honcho (Association of Shinto Shrines) in 2010.
He currently holds the following posts: Head of the prefectural branch of the Association of Shinto Shrines; Chairperson of Japanese Religionists’ Congress for World Federation; Member of the Administration of Religious Affairs of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology; General Director of the National Federation of Hachiman Shrines.

Etsuro Sotoo was born in Fukuoka in 1953. After receiving a degree in Beaux Arts from Kyoto University, he worked as an art teacher in Kyoto and Osaka for one year. Since he was a small boy Mr. Sotoo had been quite clear about what he wanted to do in life: to carve stone. And so he decided to come to Europe, because that is where the culture of stone is most alive. In 1978 he began to work as a sculptor in the construction of the Sagrada Familia’s Expiratory Temple. Of the sculpture works Mr. Sotoo has done, fifteen of them are found in the Sagrada Familia’s Nativity façade, which was started by Gaudi himself and finished in 2000. By 2005 it was declared a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO, being the only cathedral façade with this title.

Mr. Sotoo has received several awards, among which the “The Art of Spirit Award” by Lladró (2002), Cultural Award of Fukuoka Province (2002), a Cultural Award of Foreign Affairs from the Prime Minister of Japan (2008), International Award of Catholic Culture (2011) and the Michelangelo di Carrara Award (2012) standout. In September of 2012, the Japanese Government gave him a decoration in Tokyo for his accomplishments in spreading Japanese culture around the world. Recently, Mr. Sotoo presented an exhibition about Gaudi named “The Realism of Gaudí and the Hope of Europe”, in the European Parliament in Brussels as well as “Sagrada Família: Moved by Beauty” in the JMJ2011 of Madrid. Currently, besides his construction work, he works as a distance professor in some Beaux Arts schools in Japan.
Il Kim, Korean born and raised in Tokyo, received his BA in architecture from Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, and M. Phil and Ph. D. (2010) in art/architectural history from Columbia University’s Department of Art History and Archaeology. His dissertation, entitled “Cult of Light in Fifteenth Century Italian Renaissance Architecture,” focuses on the intellectual relationship between Leon Battista Alberti and his contemporary philosopher/theologian Nicholas of Cusa. He is developing a book based on the dissertation. Il Kim has been practicing architectural design in Japan, and his work has been published both in Japan and the US in such publications as Japan Architect (Shinkenchiku jutaku tokushu, 2003) and Designing with Light (Abbeville Press, 2006). An expert in Japanese art and design, Il Kim spent three years co-editing the catalogue raisonné of the Burke Foundation in New York City, the most important Japanese art and design collection outside Japan in private hands.  The catalogue, Art Through a Lifetime: The Mary Griggs Burke Collection (distributed by Washington University Press), was published in December 2013. He taught Western art/architectural history at Columbia University, Japanese art/architectural history at Kean University, and design history at Pratt institute.  Since August he has been teaching both studio and architectural/urban history at Auburn University’s School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture.

Co-organized by Copla Foundation.
  • Wednesday, November 19, 2014
  • 6:30 pm