Kanazawa Shoko and Yasuko

Image: Miyazawa Masaaki

Tomo ni Ikiru (Living Together): Talk & Calligraphy Demonstration with Kanazawa Shōko and Kanazawa Yasuko

Kanazawa Shoko and Yasuko

Image: Miyazawa Masaaki

Book tickets

In collaboration with the Down’s Syndrome Association, Japan House London is delighted to present a special talk and demonstration at the Langdon Down Centre welcoming globally renowned Japanese calligrapher, Kanazawa Shōko, and her mother and mentor, Kanazawa Yasuko.

One of Japan’s most acclaimed young calligraphers, Kanazawa Shōko has not only been mesmerizing domestic and international audiences with her artistic talent and mastery of brush and ink, but, as a person born with Down’s syndrome, she has inspired people around the world with her story of defying perceived limitations to achieve artistic and professional success.

During the event, Shōko gives a demonstration of her signature large-scale calligraphy in which she uses the full strength of her body and a huge brush to create dramatic works with bold powerful brushstrokes. For this occasion, Shōko has chosen to write the phrase tomo ni ikiru (to live together, or to co-exist). This powerful message not only draws attention to notions such as sense of belonging but is also a call for a more inclusive society, where different individuals can co-exist together enjoying equality and mutual respect.

The performance is followed by a talk by Shoko’s mother, mentor and first calligraphy teacher Kanazawa Yasuko who discusses Shōko’s inspirational journey to becoming an accomplished artist and achieving independence. She explores how calligraphy has given Shōko an outlet to connect with others, while sharing her artistic talents, bringing hope and encouragement to people all over the world.

This event is part of a series featuring Kanazawa Shōko and Kanazawa Yasuko organized by Japan House London in collaboration with the Down’s Syndrome Association. It takes place at the Normansfield Theatre located in the Langdon Down Centre in Teddington. A separate event takes place at Japan House London on Sunday 2 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).