Jusatsu Kito Sodan (Hanaga Mitsutoshi)

Funded by Arts Council Tokyo
With support of Hanaga Mitsutoshi Project Executive Committee, Hanaga Taro, Gallery Kochuten, Aoyama Meguro
29 September - 22 October, 2023
12:00-19:00 *Open Fri. Sat. Sun.

12:00-19:00, 29 SEP - 22 OCT 2023

During the period of rapid economic growth, environmental pollution surfaced, and pollution-related diseases such as Itai-itai disease and Yokkaichi asthma struck rural residents throughout Japan. 1970 saw the formation of a collective of Buddhist monks, led by two Buddhist priests, to protest against the corporate owners responsible for the pollution-related diseases. They traveled to disputed industrial complexes across the country. They formed into a procession, drumming and chanting sutra, burning gomakitofires and performing the abhichara rites—in order to curse factory owners to death.

Traversing art, politics, and religion—an execution through tantric practices of esoteric Buddhism informed by avant-garde activism, Jusatsu Kito Sodan (1970-unknown) fought for the spiritual and physical retaliation on behalf of those suffered. They exposed the manifold conditions of moral and emotional injustice in the rapidly modernizing post-war society. They challenged industrialists with counter-murder attempts by engaging in what might be termed “Buddhist terrorism”, legally considered as an impossibility offense that could not be prosecuted in our modern judiciary system. Documentary photographer Mitsutoshi Hanaga (1933-1999) who chronicled emerging events and street performances in the shadowy recesses of Japanese society, became a member through the transformative experience with the collective, leaving behind over 300 reportage photographs of their journeys.

While casting spells upon the corporate owners, the monk collective visited villages suffering from pollution and dedicated their prayer to the victims. These activities stemmed from a critical position on the historical trajectories of the religious sects and use of Tantric Buddhism for the spiritual protection of the state since the 9th century, with the aim of returning power to the hands of those in need. At the same time, they adhered to the belief of somokku jobutsu, which posits that plants and trees are endowed with Buddhahood and can attain enlightment. The collective distanced themselves from Marxists and civil activists who at the time linked pollution to class issues, and they criticized the anthropocentric views of such groups. Instead, they traced the complex, twisted loops that connect the cause-and-effect relationships of life. In resonance with the dark and convoluted ecology of coexistence on a land that humans themselves had polluted in pursuit of development and capital since modernization, Jusatsu Kito Sodan underwent a transition towards an anarchic and avant-garde vision.

The exhibition title references the article by Paul Kingsnorth** a writer and a long-time environmental activist who later became a vocal critic of global environmentalism. In this essay, influenced by the mathematician Theodore Kaczynski, Kingsnorth grapples with his own anger, dismisses progressive ideologies and explores potential measures of "uncivilisation" in curbing the current state of eco-genocide.

Reconfigured from the Curse Mantraexhibition held at Parasite Residency, Hong Kong, 2019, the Tokyo iteration will include a text by Takahiro Matsushita, a Shingon priest and a member of the Jusatsu Kito Sodan, along with documentary photographs by Mitsutoshi Hanaga (1933-99).

The exhibition is based on the exhibition Curse Mantra (Parasite Residency, Hong Kong), which was curated in collaboration with Aoyama|Meguro, and with the support of Taro Hanaga.

Special Thanks: Daryl Jamieson, Jonathan Hopfner

*Takahiro Matsushita, “Restoration of the curse and hostility of polluting corporate masters.”, Gendai No Me, Gendai Hyoron Sha, 1971 (2)./ 松下隆洪「公害企業主呪殺と敵討の復権」、『現代の眼』、現代評論社、1971年(2月号)
** Paul Kingsnorth, "Dark Ecology: Searching for Truth in a Post-green World", Orion Magazine, 2012. URL: Published on paper, in: Paul Kingsnorth, Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist and Other Essays, Graywolf Press, 2017.
Exhibition Dark Ecology
Jusatsu Kito Sodan (Mitsutoshi Hanaga)
Dates: 29 Sep (Fri) - 22 Oct (Sun) 2023, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 12pm - 7pm
Venue: ASAKUSA 1-6-16 Nishi Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo
Cooperation: Hanaga Mitsutoshi Project Executive Committee, Hanaga Taro, Gallery Kochuten, Aoyama |Meguro
Supported by Arts Council Tokyo, Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture

Related Exhibition
Artist:Adam Khalil, Bayley Sweitzer, Anton Vidokle, Mitsutoshi Hanaga and more.
Date:16 Sep. (Sat) - 8 Oct. (Sun) 2023. Wednesday to Sunday, 11am - 7pm
Venue:TALION GALLERY 171-0031 B1 2-2-1 Mejiro, Toshima-ku, Tokyo
Organized by Koichiro Osaka (Director, ASAKUSA) Takashi Ueda (Director, TALION GALLERY)
In collaboration with Aoyama|Meguro

Related Performance
Title: listening stones making landscapes
Artists: Mikhail Karikis & Maruan Sipert, 2023
Dates : Sunday, October 8, 2023, 5 PM-6 PM
Duration of the performance: ca. 45 min
Venue : ASAKUSA, 1-6-16 Nishi-Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo, 111-0035
* No reservation required. Please join directly to the venue.
* The exhibition will be suspended during the performance.ダークエコロジー-dark-ecology/

Related Website In this online programme, Fukuoka-based composer Daryl Jamieson talks about Jusatsu Kito Sodan and their Buddhist-inspired environmental activism, and Hong Kong-based Jonathan Hopfner from a Buddhist scholar's perspective.

Venue: 0-eA (online)
Organised by: Third Research Lab.
Cooperation: ASAKUSA

Jusatsu Kito Sodan
Hanaga Mitsutoshi

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