COVID-19 Journal: Day 113

You may recall the quest I dreamt up a few days ago. Day 108. Where I was wondering about the big money that flies around arts & culture here and how it seems like a lot and there are old institutions and new ones and how it might be interesting to consider an organisation's current assets as a marker for health, where non-current assets might be a marker of wealth, which is something like priceless (because it's a building or an artifact or something that can't be sold and its worth repurposed). I had dug up two separate lists of arts orgs, to a total of about 870 orgs, and that was relatively easy. The next day or so of poking revealed that an expert researcher was granted £1M and four years to build a database of 4,000 or so museums (and not other types of arts orgs), so, I've decided that I probably shouldn't be the person who tries to build The List. Even that brief poke revealed that probably about 85% of arts practitioners has created a list of orgs at some point in their career, and they're all slightly different and of varying ages and scopes. 

I'm sure it's not obfuscation by design, but, then again, the way Mumbling Cheeto Facsist is trying to avoid showing his financials... maybe there's a reason that no-one on Earth seems to know how many arts orgs there are in the UK, and what kind of help they might need (or knows but is unable or unwilling to share?). Another quick search of the Charities Commission which basically entailed leaving the search box blank but picking the arts/culture/heritage/science category revealed about 30,000 charities. Nobody knows.

I went to the allotment late morning. It was a beautiful day. Weeded the strawberry patch and made some extra rungs made of string up the bamboo for the beans. Chris came along too, and helped with the big job of watering. Chop wood, carry water. We had some of the magnificent pineapple cake from last night that I'd managed to conserve. I have a lot of zucchini. And will thin out and take some spring onions tomorrow. I love spring onions. Especially on the grill.


I've been doing some basic research into a place called Ise Jingu - 伊勢神宮 in Ise City, Japan. It's about the size of the centre of Paris and has 125 different shrines, dedicated variously to the shinto goddess of the sun and the universe, Amateratsu, and Toyo'uke, goddess of agriculture and industry. It's a temple where particular shrines and other structures are rebuilt every 20 years in a process called the Shikinen Sengu. A sengu means moving or reinstalling of a deity into a shrine and the Shikinen Sengu is a special one because it's done rarely.

These shrines have been re-constructed at adjacent alternate sites every twenty years without a break for the last 1,300 years; the last time was in 1993. Sacred treasures and apparel belonging to the Shrine are also renewed at this time. This ceremonial system is called the "Shikinen Sengu (or simply "Sengu") and includes various ceremonies related to rebuilding the shrines and transferring the deities from the old to the new buildings. The Sengu system plays an important role in preserving and handing down traditional crafts to the next generation, and conveying the roots of Japanese culture. - Rebuilding Every 20 Years Renders Sanctuaries Eternal -- the Sengu Ceremony at Jingu Shrine in Ise

The last rebuilding was in 2013, the next is coming in 2033. People have worshipped at that site for 2,000 years. The article I linked to is about how to sustainable create the cypress needed to build everything every 20 years. That's where I came to be doing this presearch... I thought I'd remembered that there was a place in Japan, a temple, which, when it was built, had trees planted at the temple in order to rebuild or repair it when they needed to. I'm not sure if this is Ise Jingu and I just didn't remember that. But I love that idea. The 20 year cycle was probably born out of necessity, but, it's still here and now practiced and celebrated, and the rebuilding itself takes several years. 

I've been chewing it over as a stark contrast to the vast and often deteriorating imperial trophy cabinets we have here. And also with some of the very new museums like the Museum of Broken Relationships or the Museum of Water, which are practically designed for transience even though they have collections. And the collections are built by contributions given with joy and pain by people in the community who have something, and its story, to give.

While I'm not suggesting that we rebuild museums from the ground up every 20 years, it sure is fun to imagine how that could work.