Artwork > Tunnel Books / Paper construction

Tunnel book
Hoichi the Earless
Paper, watercolour
26 (W) x 18.5 (H) x 12cm (D)

Hoichi is a blind minstrel with amazing Biwa (Japanese musical instrument) skills living in a temple with other monks and a priest.
One night ghostly samurai came to Hoichi and asked him to play the song about their lost war.
As Hoichi was blind, he didn’t know who it was or where he was going so the ghosts let him to a place that appeared to be a house of a nobleman, where his performance brought the ghosts to tears.
Hoichi had been playing for the ghost for few days when the priest realised that Hoichi had been bewitched. So the priest painted some chanting Heart Sutra all over his body as a protection from the ghosts and told him to remain silent. Hoichi’s body was covered with the Sutra but the priest forgot to paint his ears.

That night, when the ghosts came to him, they were unable to see anything except Hoichi’s ears.
The Sutra had rendered the rest of Hoichi’s body invisible. The ghosts got angry and ripped his ears.

This work was made as part of the artist in residence program at Melbourne Athenaeum Library

Photograph by Harvard Wang