Komuso, priest of nothingness. In bustling Ximen district.

Komuso – Priests of Nothingness

This Komuso musician is seen in bustling Ximen district in Taipei, Taiwan, which was once a Japanese colony.

Komuso, meaning ‘priests of nothingness’ once wandered the streets of Japan, playing the haunting shakuhachi flute as a means of attaining enlightenment. They are followers of the Fuke school of Zen Buddhism. Accordingly, the straw basket worn over the head signifies a lack of specific ego.

Much has changed since the 17th century when the tradition first came in to being. Nevertheless, devotees still keep the tradition alive today and the art has been experiencing somewhat of a renaissance in recent years.

About the photos:
The photos were taken with a large format pinhole camera, which needs super long exposures (measured in minutes and hours rather than seconds). The musician kindly stood completely still for me for 1 whole minute, giving the impression of a timeless music form, paused in time as the rest of the word rushes on by.

Camera: Zero Image 45 pinhole camera + Horseman 612 roll film back
Film: Kodak Portra 400VC


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