Soaring High: Talk and Calligraphy Demonstration with Kanazawa Shōko and Kanazawa Yasuko


Watch a recording of the event in the player above.

Be mesmerized by the bold and powerful brushstrokes of Kanazawa Shōko, one of Japan’s most acclaimed young contemporary calligraphers, with a special talk and demonstration event at Japan House London.

Born with Down’s syndrome, Shōko began studying shodō, Japanese calligraphy, at the age of 5, taught by her mother and mentor Yasuko. She has since continued to refine her craft, achieving global renown.

Among her many accomplishments, Shōko has created official art posters for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games and has held numerous solo exhibitions within Japan and worldwide.

She is particularly renowned for her large-scale performances of calligraphy in which she uses a huge brush and sumi ink to create dramatic works requiring full-body expression.

Guests to Japan House can enjoy a demonstration of Shōko’s signature large-scale calligraphy, followed by a talk by Shōko’s mother, discussing Shōko’s artistic development, creative philosophy and distinctive approach to her craft.

This talk is part of a series of events featuring Kanazawa Shōko and Kanazawa Yasuko organized by Japan House London in collaboration with Down’s Syndrome Association. A separate event takes place at the Langdon Down Centre in Teddington on Saturday 1 April 2023.

About the speakers

Kanazawa Shōko

Shōko, also known professionally as Shōran, was born in Tokyo in 1985. She began studying calligraphy with her mother at the age 5 and held her first solo exhibition, The World of Calligraphy, in 2005. She has since exhibited her works at temples throughout Japan (Kenchō-ji in Kamakura, Kennin-ji in Kyoto, and Tōdai-ji in Nara). She held her first overseas show in 2015 in New York and has had solo exhibitions in the Czech cities of Plzeň and Prague later that year. She is the co-author, with her mother, of several books, including Tamashii no sho (Calligraphy of the Soul) and Umi no uta, yama no koe (Songs of the Sea, Voices of the Mountain). She designed one of the Tokyo 2020 official art posters as well as the title calligraphy of Taira no Kiyomori, a TV historical drama series broadcast on NHK in 2012. She has been recently appointed as Tokyo Tower Cultural Ambassador. A documentary featuring her story is to be released in 2023.

Kanazawa Yasuko

The mother of Kanazawa Shōko, Yasuko graduated from Meiji University in 1966. She studied calligraphy under Yanagida Taiun. In 1990, she opened Kugahara Calligraphy School in Ota Ward, Tokyo. She became a Taishokai calligraphy school member in 1998, taking Yanagida Taizan as her teacher. Her books include Ai ni Hajimaru (Starting from love), Tenshi no Shōtai (True identity of angels) and Tenshi ga Konoyo ni Oritateba (If angels descend to this world).