Tag Archives: artwork

100th birthday of Taro Okamoto

26 Feb

Do you know who 岡本太郎 (Taro Okamoto) was?

Taro Okamoto,
26 Feb 1911 - 7 Jan 1996

He was a Japanese abstract artist and sculptor.
He is quite famous in Japan.
His most well-know piece is probably the huge sculpture that he made for the “World Expo ’70” in Osaka titled 「太陽の塔」 (“Tower Of The Sun“). It still stands at the site of the expo in Osaka.

「太陽の塔」 ("Tower Of The Sun") by Taro Okamoto

I haven’t been to the “Taro Okamoto Museum” but I have seen three of his pieces many times…because these three pieces are displayed in public here in Tokyo.

These are the 「若い時計台」 (“Young Clock Tower“) in Ginza, Tokyo:

「若い時計台」 ("Young Clock Tower") by Taro Okamoto

The 「子供の木」 (“Children’s Tree“) which stands in front of the 「子供の城」 (“Children’s Castle“), which is a fun, educational activity-center for young children in Tokyo. I took my children to this place a few times when they were young and I saw this sculpture in front of the building.
I knew immediately that it was by Taro Okamoto because it matched his distinctive style.

 

「子供の木」 ("Children's Tree") by Taro Okamoto

And I’ve also seen his painting titled 「明日の神話」 (“Tomorrow’s Myth“). This painting is Mr. Okamoto’s depiction of the atomic bombing of Japan in World War II.
This painting had been in Mexico for about thirty years and was only returned to Japan a little over two years ago.
It’s now on display inside 渋谷駅 (Shibuya Train Station) in Tokyo.

 

「明日の神話」 ("Tomorrow's Myth") by Taro Okamoto

Well, if 岡本太郎 (Taro Okamoto) was still alive he would be 100 years old today.

I learned that today is the 100th anniversary of his birth when I accessed the Google search engine earlier today and noticed that the logo looked like Mr. Okamoto’s artwork.

Google's logo to commemorate Taro Okamoto's 100th birthday.

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Japanese “Field Of Dreams”

14 Sep

I could’ve written about this before, as I saw it on TV a few years ago…but I didn’t think about mentioning it on my blog until now.

There’s a small rural farming town in 青森県 (Aomori Prefecture, Japan) called 「田舎館村」 (“Inakadate-mura“).

The town’s name actually means “Countryside Palace Village”…so you know it must be a small town with a name like that!

There’s not much in that town except rice farms.

So in an effort to bring revenue to the town, a number of years ago the townspeople decided to work together and turn one of the village’s largest rice field’s into a work of art.

It was an immense amount of work to do it…but they hoped that their effort would boost sales of the village’s rice and maybe even bring tourists to the town to see the decorated field.

Well, their hard-work paid off.
People from all over Japan made the trip to 田舎館村 (Inakadate-mura) to see the amazing rice field…and sales of their rice has increased as well.

The town’s population is only about 8,700 people…but 150,000 people went to see the rice field art!

They make these unbelievable works of art by planting different types of rice plants that have foliage of different colors…but not until painstakingly planning where each and every seed will be planted!

It was alot of work, and the artwork in the rice field only lasts about three or four months…but due to the immense success, the town continues to make a different picture in the rice field every year.

Here are a few photos of the rice field artwork that the town of 田舎館村 (Inakadate-mura) made over the years (taken from the town’s official website):

The rice artwork in Inakadate-mura from summer 2002.

The rice artwork in Inakadate-mura from summer 2002.

From summer 2003

From summer 2003

Half of 2005's art...

Half of 2005's art...

the other half of 2005's art

the other half of 2005's art

Half of last year's (2008)

Half of last year's (2008)

the other half of 2008's

the other half of 2008's

This year's artwork (can be seen until about the end of next month (2009 Oct))

This year's artwork (can be seen until about the end of next month (2009 Oct))

熊田千佳慕 R.I.P.

13 Aug

熊田千佳慕 (Chikabo Kumada) was an artist born in 横浜 (Yokohama, Japan) in 1911.

He was a graphic designer until the age of 26 when he changed careers to do something he was passionate about. He became a botanical artist.

He loved children and he loved nature…especially insects. So he wrote books for children about plants and insects.

kumada-book

He was often called the 「日本のファーブル」 (“Japanese Fabre“) or even 「プチファーブル」 (“Petit Fabre“).

He was called that because ジャン・アンリ・ファーブル (Jean Henri Fabre) was a French entomologist (insect scientist) who lived from the early nineteenth century until the early twentieth century.
He’s pretty famous in Japan.

Jean Henri Fabre (1823-1915)

Jean Henri Fabre (1823-1915)

My family and I are interested in insects. (Click here to see a couple photos of our latest “pet”.)
Last year we went to a ファーブル (Fabre) exhibit at a museum in Tokyo.

Flyer for "Jean Henri Fabre" exhibit in Tokyo

Flyer for "Jean Henri Fabre" exhibit in Tokyo

Like Fabre, 熊田千佳慕 (Chikabo Kumada) loved insects.
And he drew detailed illustrations of plants and insects for children’s book even when he was into his late 90s!

kumada-art02

This year, the 松屋 (“Matsuya“) Department Store in 銀座 (Ginza, Tokyo) is celebrating it’s 140th anniversary.
As part of it’s celebration, they’re having an exhibit of the artwork of 熊田千佳慕 (Chikabo Kumada) on the 8th floor from yesterday (2009 August 12) until August 24.

kumada-art01But what makes this exhibit especially significant is that it is now a memorial to the artist…since, one day after the opening of the exhibit, he died today at the age of 98.

Tragically, it wasn’t old age that took him. He may have very well lived past 100. He died today when he choked to death on food that he swallowed wrong.

My family and I plan to go to the exhibit of his artwork in the 松屋 (“Matsuya“) Department Store this month.

kumada-art03+++

熊田千佳慕 (Chikabo Kumada): 1911 July 21 – 2009 August 13 (age 98), R.I.P.

Chikabo Kumada, 1911/7/21 - 2009/8/13

Chikabo Kumada, 1911/7/21 - 2009/8/13

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ジミー・ミリキタニ

1 Apr

About three years ago my wife and I went to the Tokyo screening of the movie 「ミリキタニの猫」 (“The Cats Of Mirikitani“).

mirikitani

The movie is a documentary by Linda Hattendorf about ジミー・ツトム・ミ力谷 (Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani).

mirikitani-jimmy

In the beginning of the documentary, Linda Hattendorf simply films and interviews a homeless Japanese artist who lives on the street near her apartment in New York City selling his artwork (many of which features cats).

But then the “September 11th” attacks on the World Trade Center happen and Linda sees the artist, Jimmy Mirikitani, still on the street breathing the toxic dust in the air from the fallen towers…so she invites him into her apartment. And that’s when they change each other’s lives.

She discovers that he was born in California (and therefore was an American citizen) and raised in 広島 (Hiroshima, Japan).

When he was a young man, he moved back to America to pursue his dream to become an artist. But when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, he was put in an internment camp and lost his U.S. citizenship.

A chain of events led to him becoming homeless and stateless. But with Linda’s help, he reacquired his American citizenship, located long-lost relatives, paid a visit to the internment camp that had caused him to resent the U.S. government (but revisiting it helped him to overcome the anger), and also visit his hometown in 広島 (Hiroshima, Japan).

She also helped him get an apartment of his own and a job teaching art.

It’s a touching story. You can read about it in more detail on the official website (Click here for the English version…or click here for the 日本語 (Japanese) version.)

The reason I’m writing a blog post about this story after it’s been three years since I watched the documentary is because I just found out there is a show of phots of  ジミー・ツトム・ミ力谷 (Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani) and a new painting by him at a vegetarian restaurant in 渋谷 (Shibuya, Tokyo) called Nagishokudo from March 29 until April 18, 2009.

If you’re in Tokyo, you should go see it if you have a chance (especially if you like vegetarian food since restaurants like that are fairly uncommon in Japan. (As for me, I’m definately not a vegetarian so I don’t think I’ll be going there for the art show)).