趣味でつながる、仲間ができる、大人世代のSNS、趣味人倶楽部(しゅみーとくらぶ)

よくあるご質問

memo 1

Dear JS members and friends

“You
. are
. . old,
. . Father William,
. . the young man
. . said,
and
your hair
has
become
. very white;
And yet
you
. incessantly
stand
. on your head
. . ll
Do
you
think,
. at your age,
. it
. is
. . right?”

. Way back
. in 1865
Lewis Carroll
captured
. admirably
. our societies’
. blend of veneration
. . and
. astonishment
. at the achievements
. of great old age
. .in Alice’s Adventures
. in Wonderland.

. In Britain
we
saw
. it in last year’s
. national admiration
. for Captain Sir Tom
. Moore,
. walking
. .100 times around
. . his garden
. . to mark
. . . his 100th birthday
. . . with the thought of
. . . raising £1,000 but ending up raising £33m for the National Health Service before taking a Christmas holiday in Barbados, helped by British Airways, and then sadly dying on 2 February to widespread national mourning and recognition. In Japan, where there are more than 80,000 centenarians compared with the UK’s 14,000, such great old age has perhaps become almost commonplace, but still when the artist Toko Shinoda had a book published in 2015 called Things I Learned When I Became 103 ("103-sai ni natte wakatta koto"), based on an interview with a journalist, the work sold more than half a million copies and Shinoda-sensei became something of a reluctant TV celebrity. I suspect I am not the only Japan Society member to have a few Toko Shinoda lithographic prints in their homes, for her abstract, sumi ink calligraphic works are both eye-catching and intriguing, and her output was prolific, right up to her death this past week, on 1 March, at the age of 107.

It was fitting that Shinoda-sensei’s passing achieved international recognition, for tributes were published in both the New York Times and the Washington Post, for her work is exhibited in big American museums and in the 1950s she was closely connected to the American leaders of Abstract Expressionism such as Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock. I had the privilege of visiting Shinoda-sensei’s studio in Minami-Aoyama in 2016 to interview her for my recent book, and I can attest that it looked very much like the photo in the Washington Post obituary taken in 1966; I recall her showing me the huge inkstone which she had bought from a shop in Kanda in the late 1940s and was still using, on a daily basis.

Friends at the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Japan have reminded me that the club has a Toko Shinoda screen that is now mounted on the wall of the lobby in their new premises but which for many years stood in the dining room in the Yurakucho Denki building, near a buffet table. A gift to the club from Hitachi, the screen eventually became stained by spilled food and the shoe marks of passing staff, so much so that when Norman Tolman, Shinoda-sensei’s main dealer, saw it one day he was apparently outraged. But he wisely called Shinoda-sensei and invited her to the club with her brushes, with which she deftly obscured the damage. Her grander works can be seen all over Tokyo, including an extraordinarily massive calligraphic mural at Zojoji Temple and a smaller work produced for the Yoyogi National Gymnasium at the time of the 1964 Olympics. When I interviewed Governor Yuriko Koike for that same recent book I cheekily suggested it might be fitting to commission Shinoda-sensei to produce another work for the 2020 Olympics, symbolising continuity as well as Japan’s ageing society, but the idea did not appear to find favour.

A rather different sort


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