Calligrapher Shoko KanazawaCalligrapher Shoko Kanazawa



Interview with director Masaaki Miyazawa of the movie “Living Together: Calligrapher Shoko Kanazawa”


Documentary film "Living Together" Photographer Masaaki Miyazawa witnesses the power of Shoko Kanazawa's calligraphy

The documentary film “Living Together: Calligrapher Shoko Kanazawa” is scheduled to be released in June 2023. This film, which shines a light on the lives of calligrapher Shoko Kanazawa, who has Down syndrome, and her mother Yasuko, is photographer Masaaki Miyazawa's second directorial work in nine years. I recently had the opportunity to interview Mr. Miyazawa, and asked him about the process of creating his work, as well as his thoughts on this work.




Meeting with Shoko Kanazawa
Overwhelmed by the power of books


Masaaki Miyazawa had been hearing about the appeal of Shoko Kanazawa's calligraphy for some time, and had wanted to see it someday. In December 2021, I had the opportunity to see her exhibition called "Tsuki no Akari" held at the Mori Arts Center Gallery in Roppongi. Mr. Miyazawa says that it was truly a ``shock''. Shoko's dynamic calligraphy stood out in the vast space of the gallery, giving it an impact that far exceeded Miyazawa's imagination.



Mr. Miyazawa visited on another day and was impressed. I ended up photographing Shoko's calligraphy. At the beginning of 2022, she visited Shoko's atelier, and was able to see Shoko's work and the way she accumulated calligraphy. She reportedly took about 1 shots in a few hours, but at this time it was just a photo shoot.



``When I saw the approximately 1 shots that I had taken at that time, I was again overwhelmed.I immediately knew that I wanted to make this into a movie.'' Most importantly, Miyazawa recalls, ``The atmosphere between Shoko Kanazawa and her mother, Yasuko, while we were filming was very comfortable.''




Shoko Kanazawa Shoko Kanazawa

Shoko Kanazawa
Born in Tokyo. She began writing calligraphy at the age of five under the tutelage of her mother, who is a calligrapher. She has held dedication calligraphy and solo exhibitions at Japan's leading shrines and temples, including Ise Grand Shrine and Todaiji Temple. He donated his masterpiece ``Prayer'' to the Vatican. Overseas, he has held solo exhibitions in New York, the Czech Republic, Singapore, Russia, etc. To date, a total of 5 million people have come into contact with Kanazawa's calligraphy, and more than 200 people visit his solo exhibitions each year. His masterpiece, ``Living Together,'' released after the Great East Japan Earthquake.The group's slogan is to provide support to disaster-stricken areas, and it also continues to engage in activities aimed at creating a cohesive society, such as supporting people with disabilities.



This is Masaaki Miyazawa's second film. The first work was ``Umiyama Hida: A Message Resonating from the Forest of Ise Shrine,'' which was released in 2. As a photographer, he has been photographing Ise Grand Shrine for 1 years, and this documentary explores the Japanese people's coexistence with forests, the sea, and nature, which have existed since time immemorial.



“Ever since I filmed ``Umiyama Hida,'' I had received various offers for video work.However, I couldn't find anything that I wanted to do.However, when I read Shoko Kanazawa's book and met this parent and child, I realized that I would like to work on my project in 2022. In February of 2, I went to talk directly to my mother, Yasuko, about making a documentary film.''



Just as I continued to photograph Ise Grand Shrine as a photographer and made a documentary film, this time I started with photography and naturally transitioned to film. Interviews with her mother, Yasuko, will begin in early April 2022. We begin to explore the gist of this documentary film from Yasuko's words.


Shoko Kanazawa Yasuko Parent and child Shoko Kanazawa Yasuko Parent and child

The history of Shoko and Yasuko, a parent and child, is told from their daily lives.


What underlies the brilliance of Shoko Kanazawa's calligraphy is
The light and shadow of the life of parent and child



Shoko Kanazawa was born into this world as a child with Down syndrome. Her mother, Yasuko, has raised her Shoko with care. She began teaching Shoko her calligraphy when she was five years old. Once upon a time, she took a calligraphy class held by Yasuko, and she and Shoko both became familiar with calligraphy, and today they are where they are today.




In the movie, sad events are told for the parents and their children, especially for Yasuko. The episode in which Shoko, a fourth-grade elementary school student, ends up crying as she writes her Heart Sutra is heartbreaking. Shoko understands her mother's emotional pain and wants to soothe her, so she writes her Heart Sutra with tears in her eyes.



Initially, the title of the movie was ``Calligrapher Shoko Kanazawa: Living Together''.



``While filming, the more I learned about this parent and child, the more I realized that the title should be ``Living Together: Calligrapher Shoko Kanazawa.'' I realized that ``Living Together'' comes first.Shoko-san Everyone who sees this calligraphy is overwhelmed and moved. But this is not only true for Japanese people, but also for foreigners who cannot read kanji or understand the meaning just by looking at the calligraphy. There are things that cannot be put into words. I realized that this book is the result of the many decades of life that this parent and child have spent together."




Mr. Miyazawa says that his original plan was to focus more on calligraphy and create an artistic work. But the more you know, the less that is true. What we should focus on was the time that the parent and child took together, and their life together.




It wasn't all happy times. There was also pain and sadness. When Shoko's book is written, the accumulation of time spent as a parent and child living close together, embracing that light and shadow, will appear as something that appeals to her heart.


So that everyone can find their own thoughts



Mr. Miyazawa said he was careful because he wanted to convey the amazingness of Shoko, a calligrapher with Down syndrome. Her works include comments from various people, including calligraphers and artists. “It is true that there are some people who are skeptical about Shoko.That is why I asked not only those who admire her, but also a variety of opinions.The answer lies in the person who sees it. .I think that is fine".



Another characteristic of Miyazawa's works is that he does not include narration. ``When you include a narration, you are guiding people through the process.I want people to take home their own thoughts after watching the movie.''



I encountered the coronavirus pandemic, and this work was taken in the midst of it.



``Due to the movement restrictions, the pace of the world slowed down considerably, and everyone had a lot of time.That's why I was able to listen carefully to their stories, find keywords that would become the essence of the work, and shoot them. Now that the coronavirus has subsided, I don't think everyone would have this much time."





Nine years have passed since the last work, and Miyazawa says that it was the time necessary for various timings to fit perfectly. I hope you will see this work, which condenses the mysterious encounter between Mr. Miyazawa and Shoko Kanazawa's calligraphy, on a movie theater screen.

◆Movie “Living Together: Calligrapher Shoko Kanazawa”

Shoko Kanazawa, who is now known as a genius calligrapher and was responsible for the title of the NHK Taiga drama “Taira no Kiyomori,” began learning calligraphy at the age of five with her mother, Yasuko, as her teacher. "Books" have fascinated many people. One of her masterpieces, ``Fujin and Raijin,'' is a book that was placed alongside the national treasure Tawaraya Sotatsu's ``Fujin and Raijin'' folding screen at Kenninji Temple in Kyoto, and has been used not only in Japan but also in speeches at the United Nations, New York and Prague. He is active worldwide, including holding solo exhibitions at. It took many efforts and challenges, as well as the support of her mother, Yasuko, for Shoko Kanazawa to reach the top stage as a calligrapher. How did her mother, Yasuko, deal with the fact that she was diagnosed with Down syndrome shortly after she was born, and how did she develop her talent? We follow Shoko Kanazawa and her mother, Yasuko, who have blossomed their natural talents together, by closely following their daily activities and exploring the "calligraphy" that Shoko Kanazawa and her mother, Yasuko, create together and the form of their happiness. First documentary film.


Director: Masaaki Miyazawa
Cast: Shoko Kanazawa Yasuko Kanazawa
Producer/Composition: Yusuke Kamata Music: Yohei Kobayashi Editor: Ryuji Miyajima Cinematography: Masaaki Miyazawa Seiko Ota
Archive video director: Yasushi Kojima Online: Masato Ota Sound arrangement: Hirosuke Saijo Production: Masterworks Production: GENERATION11
Distribution and promotion: Nakachika Pictures Distribution cooperation: T-Joy 2023 / Japan / 79 minutes / Color / DCP
© Masterworks


Masaaki Miyazawa

Photographer, film director, visual director. Born in Tokyo in 1960. He graduated from Nihon University College of Art, Department of Photography. In 1985, he won the New York ICP Infinity Award for Best Newcomer for his first film using infrared film, ``Ten Nights of Dreams.'' 2014 Ise City Tourism Poster won the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications Award in the Japan Tourism Poster Contest. In 2005, he worked as the official photographer for the 62nd Shikinen Sengu of Ise Jingu. He also photographed shrines and temples across the country, including Izumo Taisha Grand Sengu, Nara Kofukuji Temple, famous for its Ashura statue, and Kasuga Taisha Shrine. In addition, as a filmmaker, he directed his first documentary film, ``Umiyama Hida - Message Resonating from the Forest of Ise Shrine'', which was themed on the forest of Ise Jingu, and won the Best Foreign Language Documentary Award at the 2015 Madrid International Film Festival. He won two titles. He is also widely active in the fields of advertising, PV, CM, editorial, and fashion. In June 2023, “Living Together: Calligrapher Shoko Kanazawa” will be released.

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