The Sound of Orin Demonstration by Buddhist Bell Artisan Shimatani Yoshinori

The Sound of Orin: Demonstration by Buddhist Bell Artisan Shimatani Yoshinori

The Sound of Orin Demonstration by Buddhist Bell Artisan Shimatani Yoshinori

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Experience the sound of orin Buddhist bells during a talk and demonstration at Japan House London.

Orin brass bells, also known as keisu, are an integral part of many Buddhist ceremonies. When reading sutras, the priest will often sound the orin bell at the beginning to align the pitch of their voice with its tone. During the service the bells can serve different functions - they can be used to improve the focus and concentration of the practitioners or to soothe their minds. The same orin bell can produce three different kinds of sounds called kan, otsu, and mon respectively. The first one is created when the bell is struck and disappears within 2 or 3 seconds. Next comes the humming sound of otsu, which resonates longer than the previous one, soon to be followed by the final deep tone of mon. Orin bells are not only beautiful works of skilled craftsmanship but their use is also integral within a Buddhist temple.

The talk and demonstration at Japan House is led by Shimatani Yoshinori, a 4th-generation metal artisan from Takaoka. Located in Toyama Prefecture, Takaoka City has been famed for its metal craftsmanship since the early Edo period (1603-1868 CE). With the growing importance of Buddhism in the region - especially Jōdo Shinshū (Pure Land Buddhism) - from the 15th century onwards, Takaoka emerged as a manufacturing centre of Buddhist altar fittings and ritual utensils. Nowadays, 95% of Japan's copperware is being produced in Takaoka.

Shimatani Yoshinori is one of 10 Buddhist bell artisans left in Japan. Apart from pursuing this craft he is dedicated to preserving old craft techniques by finding new ways to use metal, as well as new ways to appreciate such crafted objects.

About the speaker

Shimatani Yoshinori was born in Toyama Prefecture in 1973. He started working as a metal artisan in 1996 pursuing the craft of Buddhist bell making. In 2009, he was certified as a ‘Traditional Craftsperson’ of Takaoka copperware, as designated by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). In 2013 Shimatani launched the ‘Shōryū’ brand, which features items crafted for everyday use employing age-old metalworking techniques. Through his work as a craftsman, Shimatani is contributing to the promotion of the manufacture and use of orin bells and the sustainability of metalworking techniques in Japan, both at home and abroad.