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To be able to swim freely.
Painter, illustrator, and accessory artist
When I was in elementary school, I told my mother, "I like drawing, I want to be a manga artist in the future!" I told my mother, "Only a handful of people can make that kind of career, so why don't you draw as a hobby while working a regular job?" She told me.
Later, I told her, "I want to do what I love for the rest of my life." She replied, "it's impossible for you to do what you love forever because you have so many things to do after you get married."
When I was deciding on a career path in my junior year of high school, I thought about other options, but I knew I wanted to pursue art, so I made a promise to my mother that I would become an art teacher and took the entrance exam for art university.
As I studied art at university, I began to feel that I'm not really good at teaching others, and I would be happy if I could become an artist who can make a living by making what I want every day. However, I kept this thought to myself and didn't tell anyone about it.
In junior and senior high school, I was in the art club and spent more time drawing than other people, so people said to me "Ms. Yamada, you are good at drawing " and I won prizes in art contests, so I had some confidence.
However, after entering an art prep school and an art university, I realized that there were many people who were better than me.
--- I knew my mother was right. There are a lot of people who are better than me, so I don't think I can make a living as an artist.
I gradually lost confidence in myself.
I decided to study sculpture at the University of the Arts, which was difficult to do on my own, so I majored in basic sculpture there where I was exposed to many materials such as wood, stone, ceramic, and resin.
Later, I majored in printmaking.
After experiencing silkscreen and etching, I tried to draw on a flat surface again, but at that time, I didn't know what I wanted to draw and somehow I felt like I couldn't continue drawing, so I decided to return to the free atmosphere of the sculpture major.
There, I learned to think more deeply about my work.
No matter how much I thought about it, I couldn't come up with any cool concepts, but I wanted to do something interesting and have fun with everyone! So I steamed 1,000 pieces of steamed bread in ceramic shells, and I had everyone at the university eat them, and then collected the shells to make a steamed bread shell mound.
I grew herbs at the university and made spaghetti for 100 people using the herbs I harvested, and everyone enjoyed it.
Everyone who ate the spaghetti would become my child, and we would have a family meeting over a cup of herb tea.
I've been working on a project called the 'Spaghetti Project' for four years.
I've also been involved in a number of projects, such as 'cookie hunting,' where we harvest cookies from the trees that bear them, and 'human hot pot,' where we bring out the umami stories of people.
The theme of my works was 'eating,' 'having fun with others,' and 'the continuation of life'.
After graduating from university, I worked at a restaurant and a gallery. The president who was a customer of the gallery was invited to join a kitchen equipment manufacturer in Osaka.
I joined the company in Osaka, the company philosophy is 'making products that contribute to the health of people and nature'.
What is work? What is life? My main job was to listen to the president talk passionately about these topics all the time, and to compose and illustrate text for company brochures and employee training.
Even after I came to Malaysia, sometimes I went to Osaka to work for him for more than 20 years.
Although I have many memories of him scolding me, he taught me many important things to live by, and I am still grateful to him.
In 2001, I married a Malaysian whom I met at the same company.
Our son was one year old when we moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
I worked for a printing company for three years but was still not good at English or Malay.
After that, I made accessories at home while working as a designer and illustrator for a Japanese free magazine.
After the birth of my daughter, I was busy for ten years raising my two children and working.
--- Your mother is right after all.
Once you get married, you're too busy to do what you want...
Even I was somewhat dissatisfied, I keep convincing myself and continue struggling to get through each day.
After about 9 years of living in Kuala Lumpur, my husband started to look for a house.
Life in the city was busy in Malaysia, and house prices were getting higher, so we bought a house in the suburb of Negeri Sembilan. It takes about an hour from Kuala Lumpur, somewhat close to my husband's parents' home in Johor.
I decided, "I'm going to paint when I'm 40!"
I made up my mind and announced it to my close friends.
When I first turned 40, I was still too busy to paint right away, but after moving to the suburbs, I had a little more time on my hands, so I started painting tropical plants around my house.
In 2014, I was able to participate in an art expo in Malaysia with people from Japan, which led to me being approached by an art gallery in Kuala Lumpur to have a solo exhibition, and a group exhibition in Singapore with friends from art college, which gradually led me back to the art world.
By joining an art group in Malaysia, I was able to make more friends who were painting there, and I also participated in an art exchange in the Philippines, which gave me the opportunity to get to know artists in Southeast Asia.
Just before the start of Corona, I held a group exhibition with artists from Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, and Japan at a gallery in Osaka with the help of my university friends and seniors.
After Corona, I participated in art camps and exhibitions supported by the National Art Gallery in Malaysia, where I made more and more friends who were painting and received a lot of good inspiration.
In 2019, I was asked by Asami Yamauchi, who lives in Singapore, to illustrate a picture book, and for my first picture book production, I went to Yusof Gajah, a famous picture book author and artist in Malaysia for advice.
After discussing with him about various aspects of picture book production, he agreed to support us in publishing the book, and although it was postponed a little by Corona, we published the book in Malaysia in 2021.
In Ms. Ito's column, "The Story of Nature," in the Japanese language free magazine "SENYUM," which I had been illustrating for many years, I was impressed by the diversity of Malaysian flora and fauna, the uniqueness of their shapes and characteristics. I became more and more interested in the animals of this tropical country.
When I was asked to draw a picture that incorporated Malaysian flora and fauna, I began to research what kind of picture I should draw. In the past few decades, Malaysia has developed greatly and become much more convenient, but at the same time, the rich natural jungles are diminishing and many animals are in danger of extinction due to being forced to leave their homes or being poached.
I am aware that I am a part of this deforestation, but I can't be a vegetarian because I like to eat meat, and I want to turn on the air conditioner because I can't sleep when it's hot.
But what can I do?
It would be better if I could do it with someone who has the same goal as me, instead of doing it alone.
It would be nice to learn more about the nature of the rainforest from people who know more about it.
By collaborating with like-minded people, I have also developed a desire to preserve the rich nature of Malaysia, even a little.
Just over a year ago, I went on a trekking trip organized by the sculptor, Ismadi.
I had the opportunity to learn about various Malay herbs from herb guides and herb doctors.
After the program, I showed my sketches for a year to a publisher, and they agreed to let me have a solo exhibition at the GMBB Mall in Kuala Lumpur.
There are many types of Malay herbs that I want to continue studying.
While thinking about how I would like others in other countries to know the wisdom and old knowledge of Malaysians abound, I came across someone who studied Orang Asli (Malaysian natives) at university and published a book on forest medicinal herbs.
I also met a friend’s sister who knew a lot about herbs, and more bonds are connected.
What I am trying to achieve through my work is
Never compare myself with others, never compete with others.
I am always free to swim in the direction of my interests.
Malaysia is a multi-ethnic country, so I feel that many Malaysians are able to cooperate with other ethnic groups, even though they value their own culture and religion from birth.
I have a lot to learn from these Malaysians, and I am very grateful to be in an environment where I can create my works freely with their generosity.
My Malaysian artist friends are very good at respecting and encouraging each other's work, and even though I don't understand much Malay or English, they still let me join them.
My husband gives me the freedom and support I need to go from place to place.
My children have started to help me with the housework.
My Malaysian family gives me more time to relax and rest when I go back to my husband's hometown in Johor.
My parents and family in Japan haven't seen me for more than two years because of the pandemic, but they are always cheerful and supportive.
My mother, who is now a grandmother to eight grandchildren, says to them.
"You can do whatever you want".
Now, more than ever, it is okay to say, "I want to do what I want".
I think we live in an era where it is easier for everyone to do what they want.
I am grateful for the happy environment we have now, and I would like to continue my work in Malaysia.
text and photo by Sanae Yamada
Painter, illustrator, and accessory artist
She is married to a Malaysian and immigrated to Malaysia in 2003. After her children grew up, she focused on painting tropical nature in watercolor, acrylic, and oil. She is inspired by the rich and bountiful nature in Malaysia.
Sanae Yamad HP
To eat is to live.
To live is to create.
To create is to feel.
To feel is to transcend national borders.
Through food, agriculture, art, and Korea, I depict "people.
These are the words I wrote on my new business card when I quit my job as an editorial reporter for a local newspaper six years ago.
From my late thirties onward, I would like to live a semi-self-sufficient life and write about my own experiences and the people living in the present while focusing on the themes of food, agriculture, art, and Korea. I made this business card with this in mind.
half farmer, half writer
STAY SALTY ...... people here
What are your dreams?
What kind of life do you really want?
Up until then, I had been leading a life unrelated to farming.
I commuted two hours each way to work, and only came home to sleep every day.
I worked overtime and ate irregularly, and always suffered from chronic stiff shoulders, back pain, and reflux esophagitis.
The work of an editorial reporter was very enjoyable, even though it involved a lot of birth pains.
I was receiving more and more words of appreciation and praise from clients and readers, and I was finally starting to feel confident that maybe this job was my calling.
However, the other me was always puzzled.
"What do I really want to do, what kind of life do I want? I asked.
"I don't want to spend my days working and going home to sleep. I don't want to just work and go home to sleep. I want to cook my own vegetables and enjoy my meals while savoring them. Besides, I can't get food without money, and if the electricity stops, I won't be able to work at all. Don't you think that's very weak for a living being? I always feel threatened that if we humans continue to live like this, we will only lose the wisdom and technology that our ancestors left us..."
The other me asked, "So what do you think we should do?" Without a clear answer, I began to try to change my life little by little.
I started making things.
One time, I baked a pound cake as soon as I got home and fell asleep to the sweet aroma.
At other times, I designed curtains based on the Korean patchwork technique called "Bojagi" and sewed them stitch by stitch.
I did it! I can do it if I try.
The joy she felt when she completed the project was extraordinary because she had assumed that she was too clumsy to do anything.
Even if it was a little awkward, I loved everything about it.
Finally, I was thinking of starting a balcony vegetable garden in spring.
I heard about the Organic Farming School from a colleague at work, and I started to go to Satoyama landscape twice a month on weekends for a year.
My first farming experience was a series of surprises, discoveries, and impressions.
The clean air, the smell and feel of the soil as I stepped on it, the freshness of the wind blowing through.
While witnessing the powerful life force of the crops, I also learned about the fragility of life, which decays at the slightest touch.
It was the first time for me to roast barley and make barley tea.
It was the first time I had ever roasted barley and made barley tea, and the rich, savory flavor soothed my tired body after the work!
No matter how tired I was, I felt invigorated when I went to the fields. I bathed in the sunshine, exercised my body, and went home with freshly picked vegetables.
Washing, cutting, boiling, and baking.
Even with a simple seasoning, I was able to create a delicious dish.
The taste and aroma of the freshly picked organic vegetables were so rich and beautiful that I, who used to love to eat but hate to cook, was willing to stand in the kitchen.
“I work as an editorial reporter on weekdays and farm on weekends. Isn't this a great life!"
Just when I was relieved that I had finally found my ideal way of life, the other me made a face of disapproval. "What is it that you really want to write about? Do you really want to continue to make an information paper? I asked myself.
The answer I asked myself was "no".
If I had only three months left of my life.
There are not only famous people, but also fifty thousand ordinary people who live wonderful lives.
Everyone has their own unique history and their own unique words.
Since I was 20 years old, I have always wondered, "What does it mean for a person to live? Since I was 20 years old, every person I met through interviews was a living textbook and teacher to me.
However, no matter how many wonderful people I hear about, it doesn't mean that I can become like them.
For example, even if I learned the secret of making good bread from a baker, if I didn't start doing anything, I would never be able to make my own bread.
I was beginning to think that I would like to become a person who could make bread myself, instead of just covering the secrets of bread making and writing about it.
What happened when a person who never thought making bread at home took up the challenge of baking bread one day and kept at it? What did I feel, what did I gain, what did I lose, and what did I leave behind?
I wanted to write about my experiences and pass them on to future generations.
My mind was made up when I finished reading a book that I borrowed from a colleague who told me about the agricultural school.
In the book, "Half Farmer, Half X," published in 2003, the author Naoki Shiomi wrote about "a way of life that balances semi-self-sufficient farming with the work you want to do".
If I only had three months left in my life, I wanted to live that way.
Then I left the company.
When I write and share my thoughts, life begins to move.
As I told people what I wanted to be, strangely enough, people started to appear who were interested and supportive.
People would say things like, "Here's a book about food and agriculture," or "Why don't you write an article while working in our farm and create a weekend morning market with us? Or, "Speaking of agriculture and Korea, why don't you contact this person? And so on.
As I dealt with these encounters and opportunities one by one, I unexpectedly ended up going to Korea for a three-month farming experience.
After returning to Japan, I would like to go on a trip to visit organic farmers in Japan and compile my essays into a book.
That's what I was thinking.
Korea is a country with which I have close ties, as I studied there for a year in my early thirties.
When I landed at Incheon International Airport, I was so excited to be able to live there again, even if only for a short period of time.
At that time, there was a strange Korean man beside my friend who came to pick me up.He came every weekend to help out to the farms where I was staying, and that winter he became my husband.
It has been four whole years since I moved to Korea after an unexpected international marriage.
I am now raising a three-year-old son, running my own business with my husband, and occasionally helping my parents-in-law in their farm, while writing essays and poems about my thoughts that can only be written now.
This is how I spend my days.
Longing for a life with agriculture since I was a teenager
When I was in junior high school, I couldn't narrow down my dreams to just one, so I wrote in my graduation book that "I wanted to be a double bass player", "teach social studies at a junior high school and be an advisor to the brass band", "be a grandmother with lots of laugh lines", and somehow "become a member of a farmer's family".
My dream of becoming a musician was cut short early on, and I went off the rails to become a teacher, but I lost sight of my purpose in life and started living in a pension in Teshikaga, Hokkaido for four months.
This was when I was 20 years old.
People who ran their own pensions and cafes worked without a break during the summer tourist season, while they traveled, painted, and made things when the snow was falling.
I got the sense that they were living their lives creatively, doing what they could to adapt to the changing natural environment and making what they didn't have with their own hands.
I wanted to live like this in the countryside someday.
It was at this very moment that my new dream was born.
After that, it became difficult for me to leave Hokkaido, and I transferred to a university in Sapporo after coming across a sentence written by a professor who would later become my mentor: "This is a place where human beings are the object of study from the viewpoint that human beings learn and develop".
After graduating, I began to search for answers to the question, "What does it mean to live? I began to work as an editorial reporter, where I could meet various people's lives by just a business card.
At the time of my employment, I had completely forgotten that I had written that I would become a farmer's family, but when I reread my diary before graduating from university, I found that I had written these words.
-- I have a great admiration for a life lived with as much wisdom as possible. "A life of living for the sake of living". I want to live a life where we make our own food, fix things when they are broken, and make what we don't have ourselves. That's why I yearn to live in the country.
More than ten years have passed since then, with many twists and turns.
The husband I met in Korea was not a farmer, but he was the son of a farmer who had made a living running a farm and orchard.
In other words, I had achieved my dream of becoming a farmer's family, which I had written about when I was in junior high school.
After all, if I put my thoughts into words and tell people about them, they may someday come true.
Dream will surely lead you to the future you need to go forward.
I had no interest in foreign countries since I was a child, but how did I end up visiting Korea on my first overseas trip in my first year as a working adult, becoming fascinated with Korean food and culture, and even studying Korean abroad?
When I started reporting on agricultural experiences in Korea as a half-farmer, half-writer, I felt that the farmers had given me the answer.
"Two of you are very much resembled. You are like a married couple who have been together for many years. In Korea, a meeting like yours is called a 천생연분 (a match made in heaven)".
It's embarrassing to put it into words, but I'm sure that my whole life was meant to meet my current husband and son.
The balcony garden I try every year keeps failing, and I can't go to my parents-in-law's farm because of Coronavirus, so my days are far from my ideal semi-self-sufficient life.
A life that goes according to plan is good for a sense of accomplishment.
However, it is also interesting to live a life where you are led to a future beyond your imagination by the power of something unseen.
I still have a long way to go, but I have a lot to write about.
I would like to publish my essays, poems, novels, and other writings someday, and through these books, I would like to meet people from all over the world, as well as people who will be living 100 years from now.
I believe that by writing and sharing my thoughts in this way, my wish will gradually come true.
So, everyone, please write down your thoughts and feelings.
Feel as if your wish has already come true, and write freely and happily.
What is your dream?
text and photo - Kim Mina
half farmer, half writer
Born in Kyushu in 1982 and raised in Kansai. In 2006, in her first year as an editorial reporter for a local newspaper, she made her first overseas trip to Busan, South Korea, where she studied Korean from 2010 to 2012. After returning to Japan, she worked as an editorial reporter again before going freelance in the fall of 2015. Started working as a "half-farmer, half-writer" who portrays people through food, agriculture, art, and Korea.
In 2017, she got married internationally and moved to South Korea, taking the opportunity of covering agricultural experiences in South Korea. Currently, while searching for a life as a half-farmer, half-writer, she works hard at raising her children, running the family business, and teaching Japanese conversation, and her life's work is to express her thoughts in essays and poems that can only be written now.
STAY SALTY ...... people here
I can be more free.
I don't have a lot of accomplishments as a dancer.
I don't have many spectacular achievements as a dancer, nor do I have great physical abilities.
Was it my personality that wasn't suited for it in the first place, or was it just a lack of effort?
I had spent most of my life in dance.
I wondered if I had left anything behind.
This sense of defeat and inferiority has always haunted me.
I have no self-confidence.
But I'm determined.
Somehow I've become good at finding reasons why I can't do something.
The Corona disaster has limited her life.
I want to feel that I am working on something with my own hands.
I would like to live in a way that allows me to have a little more of what is called "self-affirmation.
I want to find a way to live in a way that allows me to have a little more of what is called self-affirmation, without cheating.
I spent endless hours thinking about it, and I was stuck in a quagmire of confusion.
The time I have spent dancing can be divided into three major periods.
The modern ballet class I attended from the age of five until I graduated from elementary school.
At that time, I was invincible.
I was the first to recognize that praise makes a child grow.
I was able to meet a wonderful teacher who quickly recognized this trait.
I truly believed that I was the best at what I did, more than anyone else.
I really believed that I was the best.
Later, when I was a junior college student, I started going to a major dance studio.
I went to a major dance studio from the time I was a junior college student and performed in many of the studio's recitals and club events.
The other time was after I became a teacher and choreographer.
I had a female dancer who had been my teacher for more than 10 years since I was about 20 years old.
She taught me not only how to dance, but also how to think, how to talk, what to wear, and even how to type emails.
I was influenced by her not only the way she danced, but also the way she thought, the way she talked, the clothes she wore, and even the way she typed emails.
I even wanted to be a copy of her.
There were many wonderful dancers, but
There are many wonderful dancers out there, but I think my teacher is the only one who made me want to be his exact copy.
With his choreography, I performed in studio recitals and club events.
I've also been involved in choreography as an assistant.
Having followed his footsteps and watched his choreography and teaching from close quarters, I can say with certainty that he is the only person who can do what he does.
Now that I'm in a different position, it's definitely alive in me.
I've been able to change my mind from thinking that I have to do things this way to thinking that I have to do things that way.
I was always told that my dancing was boring.
I now understand why I was always told to "play more" and "dance is boring.
The time I spent with my teacher and the friends I danced with was intense.
The time I spent with my master and the friends I danced with was rich and irreplaceable.
The time I spent with my master and the friends I danced with was intense, irreplaceable, and an important time that permeated my every cell and made me who I am.
But I was not always confident.
I thought that it was because I had a master that I was able to experience so much.
The thought that it was never my own strength.
I always had a rootless anxiety.
I had been in an environment where I was surrounded by almost all of my peers.
The difficulty of building trusting relationships and asserting my own ideas made me feel low.
I hated myself for that.
I swallowed my frustration and took a step back.
It's my weakness to swallow my frustration and take a step back, which is filled with the cowardice of escape.
Even if my position changes, the sense of defeat and inferiority will always be with me.
How long am I going to be like this?
The future me
The Corona disaster has left me in a quagmire of confusion.
I was forced to change the way I think about work and the way I work.
I was literally lost, but
But it was not all negative for me.
Let's expand the world a little more
It's not that I was conscious of it.
But I wondered what it was that I liked to do, without thinking about profit and loss.
I'm sure I've been thinking about that softly.
Last summer, when I had too much time on my hands, I found a social networking service called "note.
At first, I didn't plan to connect with anyone.
I had no intention to connect with anyone at first, but I felt satisfied just by writing down my self-centered thoughts that I couldn't write on Instagram or Facebook.
I was satisfied just by putting them into words.
But the world of note was much kinder than I had expected.
In the real world.
In the real world, there are many people in fields that I have never had the chance to meet before.
I've found that connecting with people through writing is a great way to
In the real world, there were many people in fields I had never had the chance to meet before.
It's a mysterious way to build a relationship of trust.
Reading the articles, learning about the thoughts and ideas of the people, and
By reading the articles, learning about the thoughts and ideas of the people, and being exposed to cultures that I had never heard of, my interests are greatly broadened.
And then there is the generosity of people who gently accept the diversity of each individual.
Even I, who expose myself to the world as a dancer and spell out this and that selfish thought.
It was as if she was discovering something about me that I didn't know.
I felt that way, and it became a stronghold in my heart.
At the same time, when I received some kind of response to the articles I wrote
My mind became more and more organized.
I began to take pride in my past experiences as a dancer.
I began to take pride in my past experiences as a dancer.
I was able to put my new dream into words without shame.
I wanted to feel that I was working on something with my own hands.
This wish started to take shape in an unexpected way.
Temple x Dance
In an article I posted on note
The image that you keep in mind when dancing or creating choreography
World view and concept
and my attitude toward dance in the future.
and my attitude toward dance in the future.
I want to continue dancing in the future.
I want to continue dancing in the future, and I want to further develop this worldview.
I want to be a player, a choreographer and a director.
And one more thing.
I want to step out of theaters, clubs, and other places where people dance in dance performances and dance events.
I want to step out of theaters and clubs.
I want to step away from theaters and clubs, where people dance in dance performances and events.
Most of the people who have the opportunity to see a dance performance or dance event are either dancers, people who love to watch dance, or people whose family or friends are performing.
I think most of them are dancers, people who love watching dance, or people whose family or friends are performing.
In a note I wrote about dance, I wrote
As I wrote about dance in my note, people who had never been involved in dance before gave me fresh responses.
As I wrote about dance in my note, people who had not been involved in dance before responded to it in a fresh way.
I believe that dancing in places other than so-called places to watch dance will provide an opportunity for something new and interesting to be born.
When I wrote the article, I was still vague about it.
I was still vague when I wrote the article, but NOTE gave me an unexpected opportunity to think about this as well.
I was still vague when I wrote the article, but the note gave me an unexpected opportunity to talk about this as well.
There are quite a few temples that hold projects and events
There are quite a few temples that hold projects and events to support artists and exchange with the community.
The person who gave me this information was a woman who is an architect who read my note article.
When I checked, I found out that there was a temple not far from my house.
I found a temple not too far from my house that was holding a project to support artists.
I'm a coward who is good at looking for reasons why I can't do something.
Even though the application period for the project had already passed
Even though the application period for the project had already passed, I made a last-ditch effort to contact the temple.
I made an appointment to visit the temple for a consultation.
I wrote a proposal.
This time, it was a Corona disaster.
This time, because of the Corona disaster, we were not able to have an actual performance with an audience at the temple, but
Temple x Dance
I consulted with a video creator friend of mine about filming, and
I was given the opportunity to create a video work as part of an art project.
I felt that I was working on something with my own hands.
What pushed me forward was
What pushed me forward was a new encounter that gave me a new perspective and a new response.
I don't want to just sit back and watch.
Now that I am 40 years old, I can finally be myself.
I'm finally starting to regain the excitement of being myself, without fooling myself into thinking I'm not.
I think I'm starting to get my excitement back.
Thinking back to those invincible days in elementary school.
I was too caught up in the past.
I'm sure I'll be able to be more free from now on.
text and photo - Saki
Modern ballet 7 years
Jazz dance: 15 years
Appeared as a dancer and choreography assistant in Fuji Television's SMAP×SMAP.
Backup dancer for NHK's 2008 Kohaku Uta Gassen (Red and White Song Contest).
Danced in NHK's "Silent Night with Kiyoshi".
Backup dancer for Miyuki Kawanaka and Eiko Segawa in NHK's BS Japan Songs.
Choreography assistant for the musical "Nakano Blondies".
Backup dancer for m.c.A.T corporate event in 2015.
Choreographed and danced in Mariko Takahashi's concert "Grandpa" at the Tokyo International Forum in 2018.
Choreographed and performed as a dancer in Mariko Takahashi's concert "Grandpa" at the Tokyo International Forum in 2018.
Choreographed and performed in the single "Saison of Happiness" at @jamexpo 2019.
Performed in a CG video using motion capture.
Dance instruction for "Seiza Hyakkei".
Dance instruction for Up Up Girls (2).
She appeared in the music video of "Last Message - The Last Bouquet" for R!pp V!bs in January 2020.
July 2020: Appeared in Shinya Tama's "Let's meet at a live house" music video.
In addition, she is active in dance events and exhibitions around Tokyo.
STAY SALTY ...... people here
Poco a poco, uno camina lejos
(Little by little, 0ne walks far)
My First Translated Picture Book
It was in May 2011, ten years ago, that I started to publish picture books.
One day, I realized that the piles of proposals for translated picture books I had been writing up until then were nothing more than a piece of paper.
It was just after the Great East Japan Earthquake.
I don't know what will happen tomorrow, everyone must have thought so.
I think I wanted to come to terms with my own feelings rather than trying to reach someone else.
Even if my dream of translating and publishing a picture book didn't come true, I wanted to preserve the process of getting there.
If I did what I could do now, I would be happy even if I ended up collapsing tomorrow.
That was one of the feelings I had.
One day, I received an email from the publishing house. They regularly publish the picture books from around the world, and saying: “Can we see some of your picture books？”
That's how I remember it.
I had tried bringing in picture books before, but it was difficult to find editors who would take the time to meet with me, as I had no connections, contacts, or track record.
Most of the time, I was told to send them a copy of the picture book and a proposal and that was it.
Even when I did meet with them, they would say, "A picture book about Latin America, how unusual.
It was after I had gone through such a repetition several times.
That day, like Tora-san（He is a kind-hearted vagabond, who always carries the trunk, and the protagonist of the Japanese popular drama series.）.
I packed as many picture books as I could into my suitcase and was ready to go home after introducing them as usual.
However, that day was different.
She said, "Already, we have the copyright. Could you translate it?
At that moment, I remember bursting into tears and could not stop.
The first picture book I translated was a Costa Rican author's picture book titled, "El cuento fantasma (The Ghost Story).
The main character is a book hiding in the corner of the library.
"I am only a ghost. No one can see me."
The book, which no one had ever opened before, was found by a visually impaired girl who traced the spine of each book with her finger as she searched for the book.
It turned out that "The ghost story ", with its pages filled with white dots, was a picture book in Braille.
No one story was better than any other,
that they were just different;
as different as the feathers of birds,
as people’s faces,
or the uncountable leaves on a great fig tree.
Title: El cuento fantasma （The Ghost Story）
Author: written by Jaime Gamboa, illustrated by Wen Shu Chen, translated by Yumi Hoshino
Publisher: World Library
For me, searching for picture books is like finding a diamond in the rough in a mine.
When I started looking for picture books in 1995, the Latin American picture books that were introduced in Japan at that time were mostly old stories and socially-oriented picture books.
On the other hand, since the year 2000, I have been seeing many wonderful picture books from Latin America that are full of imagination and enrich the mind.
One such book was "El cuento fantasma （The ghost story）.
On the day I received the offer to translate the book, I remember walking slowly to the Harajuku station after leaving the publishing company in Omotesando, crying with happiness.
Finally, my dream had come true.
It was August of 2014.
It all started another 20 years ago.
Looking back, it was a small bookstore in a town I used to go to when I was living in Venezuela in 1995, about 20 years before 2014, that gave me the idea.
"Mi casa es tu casa (My house is your house).
Believing in the words of my Venezuelan friend, I left my job of three years and moved to Venezuela in 1995 at the age of 26.
When I left my job of three years to go to Venezuela. I wanted to live there, not just travel.
Venezuela, officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, located in the northern part of South America, facing the Caribbean Sea.
Their Spanish sounded as if they were singing.
They laugh a lot, cry a lot, and talk a lot.
They talk without looking away, so there is no escape, and sometimes I feel nervous.
It was an exciting time, but I am Japanese, so sometimes I felt very tired.
At such times, a small bookstore in the capital city of Caracas, run by a Spanish couple, became a refuge for me.
Not as much as now, but even then Venezuela was not very safe, so there were not many spaces where I could relieve myself alone.
The Spanish couple, Mr.Tomás and Mrs.Olvido, were elderly, and they had probably emigrated from Spain.
They didn't talk a lot, but they always took care of me in a casual way.
He would say, "Come by anytime," "Stay as long as you like," and offer me tea.
They would offer me tea, but they would also leave me alone.
When I cried because I was homesick, she hugged me tightly and was really a stronghold of my heart.
With Olvido, a Venezuelan bookstore
When I left Japan, they gave me a picture book as a gift. It was a picture book titled "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein.
"The tree that loves the boy keeps giving him love because it wants him to be happy.
The boy grows up and gets old.
But for him, the tree is always a place to come back to.
And the tree is happy, too.
Because it is love without reward. (abr by Yumi Hoshino)".
For me, the Spanish couple who owned the bookstore were like "The Giving Tree“.
The deep sense of relief that they gave me is all condensed in this one picture book.
For me, this book has become a lifelong treasure.
Publisher: Litexa Venezolana
Title: El árbol generoso
Author: Author / Shel Silverstein
Translator: Carla Pardo Valle
Publisher: Litexa Venezolana
And I think it probably started around this time.
I began to consciously collect picture books from South America....
Unfortunately, "The Giving Tree" was written by an American author, but what about picture books from Venezuela?
Venezuela, a country made up of diverse ethnic groups, has an excellent artistic culture with many colorful and powerful works.
What I was strongly attracted to there were the works of popular art, created by people who do not consider themselves to be artists, and who create them in between their work.
Nowadays, it could be considered as naïve art or outsider art.
These works are like diamonds in the rough.
Powerful, sometimes unorthodox, and transcending time and space.
Magic realism, a characteristic of Latin American fantasy literature....
For example, at the time, my friend artist Samuel painted the symbols of Venezuela in a very colorful way (see: Venezuela by Samuel Tovar).
With Angel's Falls in the background, we see Llaneros (cowboys) on the plains of central Venezuela, the Yanonami (south american indians), beautiful mestizo female and caucasian female, colorful macaws, and the Caribbean Sea.
The richness of nature, the diversity of races, the variety of animals.
Everyday life in this country is full of color.
Venezuela by Samuel Tovar
Artist Samuel Tovar (with his sister: as of 2021)
Thus began my journey of searching for picture books.
Initially, I focused on the lineup of a children's publisher in Venezuela, “Ediciones Ekare”.
The company has now expanded its activities to Spain and Chile, and has won the award for best Latin American publisher at the Bologna International Children's Book Fair.
In addition, Venezuela has a reading promotion organization:“Banco del Libro (meaning the bank of books)”, which selects the best children's books every year.
I began to pay attention to the picture books from Latin America that were selected there.
My search for picture books, which initially focused on the country of Venezuela, later shifted to Peru, Chile, Colombia, and Argentina, and then to Cuba, Costa Rica, and Mexico in Central America, and of course to Spain in Europe.
For example, a Chilean artist collaborated with a Spanish painter to publish a picture book with a Spanish publisher, and a Peruvian artist entered a picture book competition in Mexico, won a prize, and published the book with a Mexican publisher.
The words "diversity" and "inclusion" have only been used in Japan in the last decade or so, but for the people who live in the cultural sphere of Latin America, they have become commonplace.
What a narrow-minded person I am, who gets caught up in the framework of a country and searches for books.
Eventually, I came to believe that the most important thing is to encounter people and works of art that fascinate me, rather than focusing on the country.
Now I don't even care so much about the frameworks of "picture books" or "Spanish" anymore.
Of course, I personally like Spanish better than English.
This is why my journey to find picture books started in Venezuela, and this year it has been 26 years.
It has been seven years since I translated the first publishing book, and I have translated 15 books.
Although they are few in number, they are all books that I love as if they were my own children.
I have also had many encounters through picture books.
During the past 26 years, I have worked at the Peruvian Embassy, had a job related to the Spanish language, got married, had twins and was busy raising them, and so on.
However, what I would like to remain committed to is not to give up easily on a work that I am fascinated by, regardless of whether it can be published or not.
Even if it doesn't happen at the time, at least keep it in a corner of my mind.
In the course of social trends and encounters with people, I hope to be able to introduce the appeal of the book again when the opportunity arises.
For example, I have had direct contact with the famous Peruvian contemporary poet Jose Watanabe, who unfortunately passed away in 2007. When I visited Peru in 2003, I made a promise to him to publish a book of poems, and it took a total of more than 15 years for the project to be realized in Japanese.
Title: The Collected Poems of Jose Watanabe, Peruvian-Japanese Poet
Author: Jose Watanabe
Co-edited translation: Yutaka Hosono, Yumi Hoshino
Publisher: Doyo Bijutsu-sha Shuppan Hanbai
The Diary of Frida Kahlo", a pictorial diary kept by the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo during the last ten years of her life, has been a 20-year project (scheduled for publication in 2021-22).
Since 1998, when I picked up a copy of this diary at an Italian bookstore in Jimbocho, I was completely drawn in by the power of her drawings and have been exploring the possibility of publishing it.
However, the copyright of her works, which are part of Mexico's cultural heritage, is very complicated, and there were many times when I wondered if this was the end.
Still, I couldn't give up, and dreamed of publishing my work in Japan, and while I was tossed around, I became obsessed with my dream and kept searching.
And now, my dream is finally coming true.
From picture books to poetry, the works I want to translate change little by little along with my way of life, but I hope to continue to stick to the works that fascinate me at the time, as actively as possible.
I believe that the book I encounter at that time will be my last translated work.
Title: El diario de Frida Kahlo
Author: Frida Kahlo
Publisher: La vaca independiente
The picture book that started my search for picture books was the one I mentioned earlier, "The Giving Tree.
It is a picture book on the theme of gratuitous love that can be read in a variety of ways and enjoyed by different age groups.
It is a simple yet profound picture book, and depending on how you look at the pictures, you can see a different story.
It is such a picture book.
I have been hoping to find a picture book like "The Giving Tree" in the Spanish-speaking world someday in my search for picture books. Finally, through a friend in Chile, I came across the picture book "Nosotros（”Nosotros” means us）".
If you see it in a bookstore, I would be happy if you could pick it up.
Author: Paloma Valdivia, Translation: Yumi Hoshino
Publisher: Iwasaki Shoten
text and photo - Yumi Hoshino
Born in Tokyo in 1969. Graduated from the Faculty of Education at Waseda University. She translates poetry and picture books, mainly from Spanish-speaking countries.
Her translations include "Why do we cry? (Kaisei-sha), When girls fly high (Chobunsha), Turtles and Black Jaguars (Fukuinkan Shoten Publishers' monthly picture book Kodomo no tomo), Nosotros (Iwasaki Shoten Publishers), and Tweet! (World Library), etc.
In 2021-22, in addition to translating picture books, she plans to co-translate "The Diary of Frida Kahlo" and Kenji Miyazawa's bilingual anthology poetry book.
She is looking forward to encounters with captivating picture books.
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Find out who I am.
I moved from Tokyo to Hokkaido.
I woke up at five in the morning. While it was still dimly lit, I sharpened the rice in the rice milling machine and prepared to cook rice in a pot.
I soak the rice in water for about 20 minutes.
I opened my computer and replied to the e-mail I received last night.
As the sky started to lighten, my three children woke up, so I prepared breakfast and lunch.
After dropping the kids off at school and daycare, I packed my work gear in my bag and headed for my workplace, which is about a five-minute drive from my house.
I finally get settled in and start working around nine o'clock.
The room I rent separately from my house is near a forest.
When I am alone in my room, I can hear the chorus of insects.
It has been ten years since I moved to Iwamizawa, Hokkaido.
It's been three years since I moved from downtown Iwamizawa to the mountainous Milyudu area.
When I was in Tokyo, I worked as an editor at a publishing company specializing in art, and after the Great East Japan Earthquake, I moved to Iwamizawa, where my husband's family lived.
She is now a retired freelance editor, but her main work is still editing art-related books.
In addition, she writes a series of articles about her daily life for a web magazine and a magazine, and is also involved in activities to promote the Milyudu area and support immigrants.
Editor / Writer / Part-time lecturer at Hokkaido University of Education
The pressure of deadlines
Deadlines come every few days.
I write three serials a month.
In addition to that, I write for the web and magazines several times a month.
I usually write the serials the day before or the day of the deadline.
Before I start writing, I feel anxious, wondering if I will be able to come up with the right words today, or if I will be able to write a good manuscript, but then I tell myself that I have no choice but to accurately describe each fact with honest words.
Then I walk around the room in circles until I find the words I need to start writing.
Sometimes I polish my desk, sometimes I make coffee.
Then, suddenly, the first phrase comes to mind.
I write the phrase down as quickly as I can, but there are parts that don't work.
I find myself repeating the same words over and over.
At such times, I get unusually hungry and eat the lunch I prepared for lunch at about 10:00.
I also go out to the garden in front of my work place to pull weeds and sometimes pick lemon balm or chamomile to make herbal tea.
In between these activities, I force myself to connect the words that come to mind, little by little.
In the midst of this low-flying process, something vaguely appears in the back of my mind that I want to talk about the most.
While keeping it warm in my heart, I build up the facts one by one.
At the end of all the right and left turns, there comes a moment when I can concentrate on the manuscript as if a switch has been flipped.
At this point, I don't move or eat anymore, but just string words together.
Then, when I feel my heart overflowing like a glass of water, I release the "most important thing I want to say" that I have been keeping in my heart.
After that, I read the manuscript out loud many times and make small corrections to phrases that are difficult to convey, and at some point, I think it is finished.
I immediately email the completed manuscript to the client, and rush home to my children waiting for me.
Sometimes I have to write a long story for a book, and once that happens, I can't turn it off, so I continue after the kids go to bed and spend the morning writing.
It's good to be able to concentrate, but after a week or so of this high tension, my gums start to swell, my neck starts to hurt and I can't turn it, and my body can't take it anymore.
© Ikuya Sasaki
Editing work is easy on the mind.
Editing is the one job that I spend more time on than writing manuscripts.
The role of an editor is to stand between the authors, writers, photographers, designers, printing companies, etc. involved in the book, to organize the traffic, and to motivate everyone to publish the book.
Recently, I've been in charge of several 500-page books, which have taken me years to complete, like a long-distance marathon.
Editing is much easier for me than writing, and I can work much faster.
For example, I love working on the rough layout of the book, deciding what content to put on which pages and what kind of photos to use.
I can come up with countless ideas, and I can decide on the structure of a 300-page book in half a day.
Most of my orders come from colleagues and business associates from my days in Tokyo.
Perhaps it is because of the specialized genre of art, but I am very grateful that they are willing to work with me from afar.
Community activities with paint all over my hands
The scope of my work is expanding these days.
I live in a depopulated area with a population of only about 350 people.
Four years ago, I noticed that there was no tourist map of the area, so I decided to create a map of the mountainous area of Iwamizawa City, including my own district of Milyudu, with my local friends.
There were almost no tourist attractions in the area, but there were some fascinating people living there, so we decided to make a map with portraits of about 100 local residents.
The map was well received. The map has been well received and is updated every year to include the portraits of more people who have moved to the area.
In addition, since there are many artists and craft workers living in the area, we have planned events in Sapporo and Tokyo to sell their works.
This year, there is a new development in these activities.
Last summer, Maya Maxx, a painter and friend of mine from Tokyo for the past 20 years, moved to Milyuduo.
There was a row house across the street from my work space that was scheduled to be demolished, but I heard that there was a possibility that it could be preserved if someone rented it, so I approached Maya.
With the arrival of MAYA, the community's activities took off in a big way.
An initiative to revitalize the nearby Milyuduko Junior High School, which was closed two years ago, has been launched with art as its core.
As a part of the project, they are currently working on a project to draw pictures on the snow boards that were placed on the windows of the first floor of the school building after it was closed.
There are about 40 of these boards on the windows.
Some of the boards are as large as five meters wide, and the amount of work involved in just priming them for paint is quite large.
It was a project that left me wondering when it would end, but MAYA has been steadily adding more pictures every day, and the sad atmosphere of the closed school is coming back to life with the power of art.
© Ikuya Sasaki
It's been 10 years since I moved here. Unforeseen Developments
When I moved to Hokkaido, I couldn't imagine exactly what kind of work I would be doing in the future.
I thought that editing was an urban job, so I expected that there would be fewer and fewer jobs due to the inconvenience of distance.
Ten years have passed since I moved to Japan, and although the number of editing jobs seems to have decreased a bit, people who are interested in my style of living in remote areas have given me new serialization jobs, and my activities in the region have expanded, so I am always full of work.
I'm really grateful for this, but it's also true that I'm struggling to keep up with the pressure of deadlines, and I've lost the will to clean up my house, which is a messy mess of three children.
When I am losing my strength, I imagine riding a roller coaster and quickly changing to another roller coaster to arrive at my destination safely.
I ride my daily schedule and tell myself that I have to make it through.
It may seem like I hate doing it when I write it like this, but I am often excited while I am doing it.
I honestly enjoy the time I spend painting with my friends, and editing a book with hundreds of pages is like riding a mountain with no peak in sight, but each time I encounter new knowledge, I am moved.
Although I was in a hurry to finish this manuscript because the deadline had passed, I am glad that I was able to summarize my work from a different perspective than before.
After emailing this manuscript, I have to spend the afternoon with MAYA to prepare for the exhibition to be held at Milyudu Junior High School.
It's been a roller coaster ride, and I'm heading to a new place again today.
text and photo by Michiko Kurushima
Editor / Writer / Part-time lecturer at Hokkaido University of Education
Editor. Part-time lecturer at Hokkaido University of Education.
Born in Tokyo, she began working at an art publishing company in 1994, where she was editor-in-chief of Mizue and deputy editor of Bijutsu Techo. She moved to Hokkaido in 2011, and established Michikuru Editing Studio in 2015 to produce books on art and design. In the summer of 2018, he started the forest publishing house Michikuru. He has been creating books about the nature of Hokkaido and the people who live there, including "Buying a Mountain," which depicts his own experiences. He is currently writing a series of articles on the struggles of eco-villages on the Magazine House website "colocal. His new book is "Inaka no honne" (26 students of Hokkaido University of Education + Michiko Kurushima, ed.
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Find out who I am.
The First Departure
In the fall of 1995, I had just graduated from a music college in Tokyo and was at Narita Airport, excited about my life in Vienna.
I remember feeling torn between anticipation and anxiety as I looked at my mother, who, as usual, was worried about me and picked up a boxed lunch at the airport souvenir store (even though I told her I didn't need it because there were in-flight meals on the plane).
I said to my mother, "I'll call you when I get there," and as we passed through the departure gate, I turned around and witnessed her unexpectedly defenseless behavior.
My mother's eyes widened like a child's at that moment, and like someone who has just witnessed a shocking scene, she looked "unbelievable" and almost started to cry, cupping her face in her hands.
It was a scene I had been dreading like a nightmare, and it was also the moment when my faint hope that I might not have to see it was completely betrayed.
Perhaps it was only my mother who foresaw on that day that what was originally planned to be a "two-year" study abroad trip would turn out to be a 25-year long journey.
Rather than fading away in the relentless muddy waters of "time," the scene of that moment lives on in me more and more colorfully and with deeper pain, perhaps even more clearly than when I actually saw it.
Even though I have lived in Paris and Milan since then, I have always felt that Vienna is a very unique city.
It may be a little different now that globalization has advanced, but at least 15 years ago, Paris and Milan had already broken away from the idea of "tradition" and were on the road to globalization.
In other words, at a time when the word "tradition" was becoming obsolete, the city of Vienna survived by using tradition as a weapon.
The "coffeehouses" that can be found all over the city are perhaps the best example of this.
Like many other international students, I frequented these beautiful and tranquil places with my books.
Speaking of attending, I also attended many concerts (this is the most recommended method of studying music for international students in Vienna).
In those days, tickets to concerts were really cheap in Vienna, and you could get a standing-room-only seat for the price of a small snack.
On top of that, the State Opera House and other historic concert halls hosted top-notch "super" performers on a nightly basis.
It was truly a "city of music" as the Japanese travel agencies claimed, and while I spent my days immersed in music in such a city, I was tormented by a sense of frustration that I had to make a career in music soon.
This was because there were many music students around me who had been living in the city for six or seven years and were having a hard time finding work.
Then one day, I took a chance and passed an exam for an Italian orchestra.
It was the summer of my fourth year of studying abroad.
Violinist / Teacher
Four Years of Youth
If I had to summarize my life in Milan, I would say "four years of youth.
Whether in Tokyo or Vienna, the center of my student life was always violin practice.
I went to the occasional movie or concert with my closest friends, but there was none of the drama of adolescence that many other students experience, such as part-time jobs and love.
My lonely life changed drastically in Italy.
I had my first job, my first boyfriend, and my first group of friends.
I can say that my adolescence began at this first job.
The language problem did not turn out to be as bad as I had feared.
The people in the orchestra, who were friendly and full of curiosity, easily brushed off my fears with a smile, and I can only say that I was fortunate to have been given so much kindness and love that I could never repay them.
But it wasn't until much later that I truly appreciated my good fortune.
At that time, I had only childish ambition (or perhaps youthful indiscretion), so I did not realize the value of what I had acquired.
In the second year of the orchestra's existence, financial difficulties arose, and my meager salary began to be delayed every month.
At first it was one month.
Then two months.
Despite this, the orchestra, led by one of the world's top conductors, was ostensibly a glamorous affair, and I was so busy performing with big-name soloists every week that I had no time to think seriously about anything.
The orchestra members, whose average age was around 30, could not stand the situation and quit one by one.
They were all very talented people.
And I, too, became tired and frustrated with the uncertain future and began to think of quitting the orchestra just like them.
Of course, I had bigger dreams for the future.
"Of course, I had bigger dreams. I'm going to join a better orchestra with better benefits.
This ambition and the city of Paris, which I had longed to visit, gradually became my guiding light, and eventually became my only ray of hope after a long day of work.
And as with all choices, I never dreamed at the time that it would lead to the first major setback and learning experience of my life.
Paris is not Paris.
I have lived in Paris for 17 years now.
When I was a student in Tokyo, I saw Godard's films and many other Nouvelle Vague films, and Paris became my "absolute holy land".
From these films, I learned all sorts of things about fashion, philosophy, art, and various values, and my tastes and way of thinking were formed.
By the way, the first cigarette I smoked at the age of 18 was "Gitane," of course under the influence of Serge Gainsbourg, but I was indeed fed up with the strong taste.
I threw it away in the helicopter on the veranda, but my mother found it when she came to dry the futon.
I clearly remember the strange shock I felt when I first visited Paris.
As Taro Okamoto wrote in his book, Paris is a society of people who do not hesitate to express their love for each other in public, and I was surprised to find that the unique "sensuality" that has become a common theme in French movies was not staged for the movies, but could be felt even from the lady in the bakery.
Can we say that the city of Paris is inhabited by a group of people who are practicing "individuality" to the very limit?
However, I came to this city in my early thirties with a single violin, and over the next few years, I faced the unexpected difficulties and competition of "joining a new orchestra" and finally realized how tough it is to compete on the world stage.
The only thing I could do was to keep on learning and challenging myself, which would have been impossible without the people who were always there to encourage me and give me confidence.
By the time I won a part-time job at the Paris Opera Orchestra, the "Paris" I once knew had changed into something completely different.
It was no longer the fashionable Nouvelle Vague or the bourgeois Paris of Sagan's novels, but simply a place where I could live a hard life.
In fact, the country of France has undergone a major transformation in the past few years.
Terrorism, large monthly strikes followed by coronas.
And now, with the regime making vaccine passports compulsory, the country is about to take an eerie turn toward "control" that will deprive the people of their choices.
I wonder how the artists of Paris, who once loved freedom and equality, feel about this suffocating situation.
And what values should I, as an artist, choose in the future?
These are the questions I live with today.
text and photo- Sachiko Kuroiwa
Violinist / Teacher
Lives and works in Paris. After working as the first violinist of the Milan Symphony Orchestra, she moved to France.
She has been active as an orchestra and chamber musician in France and abroad. In recent years, she has been passionate about teaching young musicians in Paris.