• soil2
    Soil (1999) Chinese ink on paper 35×35
    This work was exhibited at Studio Soligo in Rome, Italy in the year 2000. It was my first solo exhibition in Europe, and I chose hieroglyphics as a theme of my works for Italians who were not familiar with Chinese characters. The Japanese character for “soil” consists of two horizontal lines symbolizing the ground and one vertical line symbolizing a seedling’s germination. People may not be able to tell at first glance whether it is calligraphy or a painting.
    Interval (1999) Chinese ink on paper 35×35
    This work was also exhibited at Studio Soligo in Rome, Italy at the same time (in 2000). The shape of the Chinese character for “interval” is symmetrical and geometric. I changed all of the straight lines into curves, and modified the character shape based on poststructuralism theory.
    East (1999) Chinese ink on paper 35×35
    This work, too, was exhibited at Rome’s Studio Soligo in 2000. The shape of the Chinese character for “east” is also symmetrical and geometric. I converted the straight lines into curves, and reconstructed its form asymmetrically.
    Flower (1999) Chinese ink, dye on paper 180×70
    This is another work exhibited at Studio Soligo in Rome in 2000. For the journey to Italy, I rolled up my works to fit neatly into my trunk, to pack as many of them as possible. Rolls are quite compact, but they become large screens when they are spread out. As a result, an extreme oblong piece of paper led to a novel composition.
    Mountain (2000) Chinese ink on paper 90×90
    After I worked on several large pieces of paper, there was not enough space on the floor to lay down another piece. I gave up continuing to work that day, and went home. When I returned to my studio the next morning, the ink had dried completely. To my surprise, the image of a wandering Zen priest had appeared in the work.
    Wind (2000) Chinese ink on paper 90×90
    After the ink dried, I was astonished to see that only this one piece had acquired more image depth. I felt keenly that I am able to finish my works through the collaboration of natural forces.
    Fire (2003) Chinese ink on paper 35×35
    I would like to express both the sharp glitter and the subtle flicker of flame. I tried a certain special ink for the first time, to make a sharp contrast between the spread of ink and the tracks of the brush.
    Water (2003) Chinese ink on paper 35×35
    It was during the rainy season. Watching raindrops trickling down a window, I had an idea. I made a drop of ink run on paper by tilting the piece of paper. The ink gradually rolled down, leaving a track of ink on the sheet. I managed to write the character for “water” in this way. As a result, uncontrollability brought me an unforeseen form.
    Water (2004) Chinese ink, acrylic on canvas 41×31
    Chinese ink moves on a surface of canvas,
    while acrylic colors fix on canvas.
    Dripping water and splashing water.
    Soil (2004) Chinese ink, acrylic on canvas 33×24
    Chinese ink doesn’t go well with acrylic colors. Chinese ink is so changeable that it will act differently tomorrow from today, whereas acrylic colors are stable. Transience and Permanence – these materials seem to reflect the differences in values between East and West.
    Flower (2005) Chinese ink on paper 35×35
    The beauty of calligraphy lies in the actions derived from continuous movement of a brush. The more the variances in speed and depth, the richer the resulting expression will be.
    Wind blowing (2005) Chinese ink on paper 35×35
    I do not know from where the wind has come.
    I do not know where the wind will go.
    Even if I regret the past and worry about the future,
    I can do nothing about them.
    I will live in the moment,
    with all my might,
    feeling the wind of the present.
    Sunrise (2005) Chinese ink on paper 45×60
    One day, I continued to write the character “sunrise” again and again. Then, before I realized it, the strokes became simplified into straight lines and circles. From this experience, I began abstract drawing – not being overly concerned with written characters.
    Untitled (2005) acrylic on canvas 31×41
    After my previous work (“Sunrise” (2005)), I still had an image of the character in my mind. But in this case, the actions of my drawing arm were getting ahead of my conscious control as a calligrapher.
    Untitled (2007) Chinese ink, acrylic on canvas 80×80
    I did not put a canvas on an easel, but rather laid it on the floor and stepped onto it, to transmit my actions directly to the canvas.
    Untitled (2007) Chinese ink, acrylic on canvas 100×60
    I finished this work by not laying colors one after the other, but by instead washing them out from a canvas. I kept the idea in my mind that Japanese people used to prefer insufficiency to surplus. In other words, this piece was created bearing in mind that sense of austere refinement and quiet simplicity.
    Untitled (2008) acrylic on canvas 30×30
    The cherry blossoms are beautiful because they are so transient. We would like to feel the beauty not only in the peak period/zenith of things, but also in their process of decay. Here, ink is running down a canvas, and about to fade away.
    Untitled (2008) Chinese ink, acrylic on canvas 31×41
    In the past in Japan, the population basically increased every year. On average, there were a couple and two children in each household. But now, Japan’s population is decreasing every year, and it is becoming common to live alone. Most workers used to be regular employees, and their salaries generally increased every year. However, currently one-third of workers are employed on an irregular basis. Formerly, most Japanese thought they belonged to the middle class, but now… Japan being at its height of economic growth is but a memory. The Japanese have lived through periods of mass production and mass consumption. We cannot forget the extremes of luxury even now, but Japanese society is actually headed in the direction of decay. Even as society overflows with material goods, more and more people say they do not really feel happy. What is the meaning of happiness? I think it is necessary to accept the present situation, and change our way of thinking. We should be content to live in a modest way. Then we will be able to find true happiness in life.
    Water (2008) acrylic on canvas 30×40
    Chinese ink does not sink into canvas. It puddles, and runs on the face of the canvas. I have to patiently wait entire days until the ink dries – one day for the first stroke, another day for the second stroke.
    Life (2008) Chinese ink, paste on paper 35×35
    One thick line is an aggregate of hundreds of lines, written with each hair of a brush. I was so interested in how the hairs worked when I made strokes with a brush, that I tried to track the movement of each and every hair.
    Alive (2011) acrylic on canvas 33×24
    On March 11, 2011, a massive earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. The news about the events spread quickly around the world. I received a tremendous number of messages from abroad worrying about my safety. Each message concluded, “Is there anything I can do for Japan?”. Facing the terrible disaster, I was thinking about what I myself should do for my country. That was when I made the decision to put on a charity exhibition. I wrote the character “LIVE” on photos of the newspapers reporting the disaster.
    Shadow (2011) Chinese ink on paper 175×70
    For the past few years, I have focused more, as a calligrapher, on writing Chinese characters (‘kanji’). A single Chinese character has both meaning and form. Since a character has a prescribed stroke order, it also involves time. These notable features of the characters are quite attractive to me.
    Moon (2011) Chinese ink on paper 175×70
    I do not stand face to face with the canvas, but rather step onto a paper laid on the floor. I lower my center of gravity and make a motion, describing an arc with my arms and legs. This action is then converted to lines on paper through a brush as the locus of my body. The size of paper is 175cm x 70cm. It is the boundary of my capacity – the distance that my brush can reach without me changing my stance.
    Wind (2011) Chinese ink on paper 175×70
    When I am holding a brush, it sometimes happens that I carelessly drip ink on the paper. One day, I had an idea related to this. When I swung my brush strongly in the air, ink gushed out from the tip of the brush. The ink fell onto the paper, forming tracks of my motion on the sheet. Since the brush never touched the paper, I could attract an ‘accidentalness’ to my work.
    Flower (2011) Chinese ink on paper 175×70
    Similar to the previous work (mentioned above), I tried to create a piece utilizing dripping, by swinging my brush in the air. As I continued doing this, I gradually became good at controlling the dripping. If an artist puts too much skill into a work, that piece often ends up being ‘arrogant’ and disgusting. It is important to maintain a harmony between intentional and unintentional.
    Sunrise (2011) Chinese ink on paper 38×50
    The meaning of this character is “sunrise”. It signifies the morning sun rising above the horizon. With a dot, a circle and a straight line, I made the strokes of the character resemble a pictogram, drawn by dripping.
    Sun (2011) Chinese ink on paper 38×50
    Like the previous work, I abstracted the strokes of the Chinese character “sun” with a circle and a dot, and drew the character utilizing dripping. It takes only a few seconds to make one piece, but I make hundreds of pieces continuously. After that, I finally choose the best one from among them. The choice itself is also part of the creating. After choosing the best piece, and throwing away the others, my work is finally finished.  
    Flower (2011) Chinese ink on paper 38×50
    I have tried various tools besides brushes. In this case, I used broken bamboo. Flowers do not grow old just because a tree’s branch is old – even old cherry trees come into full bloom with flesh flowers every spring.
    Tree (2013) Chinese ink on paper 32×42
    I chose a special brush for this work. It was made from selected, very soft wool, which is also used for makeup. The touch is so smooth that strokes happen to overrun on paper. This work was adopted for the 2014 corporate calendar of Mitsubishi UFJ NICOS Co., Ltd.
    Emptiness (2013) Chinese ink on paper 32×42
    It is the most difficult to draw the thinnest lines. I tried to make lines which were as thin as possible. On the other hand, thick ones are not as difficult. You can create them if you move a brush forcefully. In the case of an orchestra, it is said that the pianissimo (very soft) passages are where the players truly demonstrate their skill.
    Sunrise (2013) Chinese ink on paper 32×42
    There are two types of art – one related to time and the other not. Calligraphy is an art form connected with time, as are music and dance. You can follow and trace a line from the beginning to the end, and imagine how the brush was moved on the paper. It is calligraphy which converts the beauty of time into lines and form.
    Emptiness (2013) Chinese ink on paper 97×180
    Form is nothing more than emptiness.
    Emptiness is nothing more than form.
    This is the character “emptiness” that symbolizes the teachings of Zen.
    Desire, regret, hesitation, anxiety …
    When you are free of worldly desires, your mind is at peace.
    Buddhist Sutra (2013) Chinese ink, acrylic on canvas 34x25x6
    I made this work on March 11, 2013, as a prayer for the souls of the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake two years before. The characters, in black Chinese ink, were written on a black canvas base which was painted with acrylic color. The black of Chinese ink and the black acrylic color display different reflections of light. This piece was made in the hope that people affected by the disaster could find rays of hope even in their dark situation.
    Light (2014) Chinese ink on paper 34×34
    In the 20th century, music advanced from tonal to atonal, while painting advanced from representational to abstract. On the other hand, calligraphers have been continuing to refine a style which originated in the medieval and modern eras, but they have not innovated towards the next style yet. I cannot get out of the existing style if I simply stick to the usual method of writing characters on paper with a brush. So I transferred a work to a blank sheet of paper by pressing the sheet against the still-wet work I had just finished; thus I could eliminate the touch of a brush in the ‘copied’ piece.
    Trees (2014) Chinese ink on paper 34×34
    Similar to the previous piece, this work was also created without the touch of a brush.
    Flower (2014) Chinese ink on paper 114x61x4
    When I am deeply absorbed in creating a work, an exceptional one sometimes happens to be born. It is certain that I produced it; however, I do not really feel that it is entirely my doing. This is the happy moment when the highest quality is born, from quantities of works. At that instant, I can feel as if my unknown self appeared just in front of me.
“It is not something built using one’s head, but rather is something that happens to appear through one’s hands and feet.” I began to consider that good works should be like this. I wrote this character while upside-down, using my left hand, in order to exclude my commonplace intentions. It is uncertain whether I can successfully realize something yet-unexplored, or else just end up with something odd. I continued a process of trial and error, while treading the thin line between those two hairsbreadth results. This work was born under that idea.