■ A box as a ruler for the measurement of time flow

There are two hiba-arborvitae trees planted side by side in front of my studio. My father deliberately planted them together a long time ago. I remember that we bought them during a family trip to a distant place, because of a famous novel he had read.

Although they were planted in exactly the same way; they however have not grown in the same manner. Observing them everyday, I saw that they were sometimes bent and then were back straight again; thus, interestingly, they were and are not unchanging.

One day my father and I cut some Japanese-cedars out from the corner of a thicket. These cedars were planted evenly spaced, unlike some others, such as our oaks. More than thirty years have passed since the cedars were planted on the hillside and they still appear to be almost even. However, some of them needed to be cut down to thin them out. The trees had grown peacefully over the years without changing their appearance; such is the quiet existence of the trees that their own lives have been entwined with the lives of all the people who have been involved with them since they were first planted.

They had all existed for the same period of time and now some of them witnessed the end of their lives. The withered trees needed to be cut down but once they were felled, we witnessed with horror that they were still full of sap and still alive inside. It felt like a huge body blow to have acted so rashly and to have hastened the demise of these trees, just for our own convenience, when they might have lived on for a little longer. I am a very lazy person, so that I often experience things because of invitations from others.

In the summer of 2003 I was taken to Aoto in Hakkeijima to fish for black-sea-bream. There, for the first time,I saw an isolated breakwater in the sea, built in the Meiji period. In some indefinable way it seemed be a rather strange place. I wondered then if fish really existed in such a vast sea, but was reassured after being given a detailed description of the sea. There must be fish there. I looked at the landscape in front of me, holding a fishing rod.

As time passed on, my interest was engaged by the landscape. I glanced back at the breakwater and it seemed a long way off. I was not sure how far off it was. I could see human figures a long way away and they looked like tiny midgets.

I was very impressed by this structure which abruptly divided the sea into two. Staring intently I noticed that the colours of the sea were different on the left from those on the right side, although they were both within the same sea. This was a wonder. The sea never reveals the same face. This, like all experiences, was one that can never be repeated. our own convenience, when they might have lived on for a little longer. I am a very lazy person, so that I often experience things because of invitations from others.

The distant time, the landscape, the series of thoughts and the passing of time….

The occurrence of these two incidents happening simultaneously takes place only once in many, many years. This moment in time is like a part of an ethereal field.

The numerous years that have passed are akin to the stratum of the layers of time… The approaching future is similar to the clashing waves…

The universe may exist in my own palms.

Masaaki Ohya 2003

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