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Japanese Man Finds Buddha In Corn Snacks

posted 18 Sept 2013, 05:52 by Mpelembe   [ updated 18 Sept 2013, 05:52 ]

Japanese man finds Buddha in corn snacks.

TOKYOJAPAN (SEPTEMBER 17, 2013) (REUTERS) -  Life is fleeting, and so potentially are the images of Buddha that Japanese artist Koshi Kawachi carves - from stick-shaped snacks made out of corn.

Inspired by the death of his grandfather 5-and-a-half- years ago, and feeling the need to express the ephemeral nature and endless cycle of life, Kawachi began carving the Buddhas on the 10-cm long snacks five years ago using a handheld drill resembling a dental tool.

Each snack costs about 10 yen and they come in 18 flavours, including fermented soybean and cheese - which, according to Kawachi, is softer and gives a different look to the Buddha.

The Gifu native was inspired by Enku, a Japanese Buddhist monk and sculptor who lived in 17th century Japan and carved over 100,000 statues of the Buddha out of wooden sticks, handing out the statues to people who took care of him.

Many wooden statues still remain in central Japan, which Kawachi saw as a child in his hometown inGifu prefecture.

Kawachi sees what he is doing as a modern day version of what enku did four centuries ago.

"I am just carving out what already exists inside the material. The Buddha simply exists inside it and what I am doing is just carving the shape out," the bespectacled 40-year-old told Reuters on Tuesday (September 17).

"My mind is empty when I look at the snack and carve."

Kawachi sets the snack on end at one side of his work table, praying and bowing his head once before starting his work, which takes only moments to complete.

He bows once again on finishing - then reverentially lifts the statue into his mouth and snaps off the body with a crunch, savouring each chew.

"Humans are said to have 108 cravings or sins," said Kawachi, who over the years has completed a sculpture made up of 107 of the statues, all made out of rice snacks.

"To my artwork I have added the story that to overcome these cravings, I carved these statues and got up to 107 - but I always give in to my worldly cravings at the 108th statue and gobble it up."

Kawachi said he originally priced the sculpture, which is stored in a plastic case, at 300,000 yen but there have been no takers. Fortunately the oil and salt in the snacks has preserved them for now.

"What's great about using snacks is that it is just a snack. If you use stone or metal, it becomes kind of preachy, a bit like a sermon you don't want to listen to. It starts to become authoritative and you go 'ahhhhh'. But if it is a snack, people will just say it is a snack and it becomes casual," Kawachi said.

He says he has eaten over 600 sticks and he doesn't feel much emotion when he eats his divine delights now.