Inkstone Inspiration

April 27, 2012

The media is traditional but the message is up to the minute. A troop of high school calligraphers have been helping to encourage the people of Ogatsu in Miyage Prefecture. Ogatsu has long been one Japan’s main producers of the ink stones used in calligraphy. But its workshops were destroyed by last year’s tsunami.

Tradition meets Pop, this is the dynamic approach of the Calligraphy Club at Mishima high school in Ehime. Using giant brushes and huge sheets of paper they’ve turned the age old practice of ink writing into a performance art. Their fame has spread throughout Japan. And recently they were asked to perform in Miyage Prefecture.

From Ehime its a very long journey. After about 8 hours by plane and bus they reach their destination: Ogatsu.

“There’s rubble everywhere. I don’t know where to look”

The tsunami was over 15 meters high and Ogatsu suffered massive damage. Over 230 people died or are still listed as missing.

Ogatsu is renowned for producing ink stones for calligraphy but the tsunami destroyed all ten of the ink stone workshops in town. The surviving artisans had to resort to salvaging stones from under the mounds of rubble. They clean them up and repair them. Its a first step towards getting their businesses up and running again.

The local community is pitting its hopes on the Ehime calligraphy girls to rekindle interest in their ink stones.

“We’ve made ink stones in this town for six hundred years. There’s no way we’re going to be stopped by the disaster”

“If this had happened to us, we probably would have given up. Its amazing the way they are set on starting over”

People gather for the show. Most of them lost their homes last year in the tsunami. Ahead of the performance the students are feeling their nerves.

“Remember to smile and stay calm”

They are writing their calligraphy message on a huge sheet. Four meters wide and six meters long.

“We perform with the sincere wish that everyone will be able to keep moving forward positively. We hope it has encouraged people to rebuild this town’s ink stones”

“I can feel my spirits have been lifted thanks to those girls”

“Our calligraphy seems to have energized everyone, but this has really inspired us to, to work even harder ourselves. I feel that connections between people are really important”

The power of this performance art has inked an indelible message of inspiration for this town of ink stones