February 1, 2013 Japan in Paris?

Paris was unusually covered with snow this January. In situations like these, Paris people often go to exhibitions in order to warm up their hearts. What greatly impressed me this month was, well, all from Japan!

The first event was the Hiroshige/Van Gogh Exhibition held at La Pinacothèque in Place de la Madeleine. Their pictures were put in comparison in one of the buildings, a project to see how much Van Gogh was influenced by Hiroshige. Hiroshige’s delicate lines are, façon de Van Gogh, violently expressed…

Well that indeed was interesting in itself, but I was especially touched by an alignment of Hiroshige’s Ukiyoe that I saw in the next building. His concern toward even the smallest details, a mystery like a meditation through nature. And the hospitality and kindness of the Japanese — I thought I was being impressed many a time because of the very fact I was Japanese, but it came out the foreign people around me also were in admiration.

Hiroshige was born in 1797, the same year as Schubert. Schubert expressed the theme of “the traveler” through his music and lieder, just as Hiroshige in Japan praised the beauty of nature in his country.

The second event was at the Louvres, where a film about the sculptor Susumu Shingu was screened. Shingu-san, called the “Poet of the wind”, is a relative on my mother’s side. On the ceiling of the Kansai airport, in front of Hermes in Ginza, and the bell of Kunitachi College of Music… his works which go round and round riding upon the wind can be found all around the world. Some of them have recently been exhibited at the park of the Tuileries in Paris.

“Sinfonietta of Light” in the park of the Tuileries

Shingu-san, in his childhood, is said to have been doing all sorts of experiments with water even in his bath, or played with the wind whenever he went outside. At the present time and 70 years of age, he’s only turned “seven years old times ten”, and he is the kind of man who constantly has a dream and makes it true, says his friend and architect Renzo Piano. His current dream is the “Breathing Earth” (an art center created merely with wind-power). Wind energy — an exhibition hall, a theater, a concert hall, a restaurant… a place like heaven for artists. When you actually sit in front of his works, and, according to the direction or the force of the wind, watch how they move as if they were dancing and diving in various tempos, or flying, you eventually feel like becoming one with nature. And you even get to “see” the wind, which you had so far only felt as “cold” or “strong”, in a different way. Come to think of it, catching a sense of what can’t be seen, perceiving the expanse of nature — that means there’s something in common with music there!



With Shingu-san 

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