Moon in February

“Moon in February” 182x332
The 90th The Japan Art Institute Exhibition, The Prime Minister Award
Mie Prefectural Art Museum Collection


 I was anxious. I had come here to the middle of Japan to work on a theme I had prepared for years, but I could not find what I was looking for. The thing that should have been there was gone. I wondered about my own memory and wandered around. I was in a crowd watching the cherry trees blossom. After a while, I became tired of searching. My legs had become stiff, my mind went blank, and I just stood there.
 I dropped my shoulders and said to myself “Give up…but,” then a petal from a cherry blossom fell upon my shoulder. And I noticed, right in front of me, an old horse standing in his pen, being embraced by the falling cherry blossoms.
 The horse’s degenerated muscle must have had beautiful tone before. The horse looked as if he was living the rest of his life in a relaxed way as a reward for all his hard work before. I was just looking at an ordinary scene of a spring day when times go by slowly. The same world I had failed to notice when I was impatiently searching. And I found acceptance, slowly the spring sunlight gave way to calm silver moonlight, and I started to feel as if the old horse who was bowing his head was part of me, whose half life is gone. Suddenly, a poem by Saigyo-Hoshi came to mind.
-- If possible, Dying in the spring, Under the flowers, About the time of the full moon, In February --
 The moon and cherry blossoms are cherishing the last days of the white horse whose best days are behind him and trying to embrace him with their gentle light and flower petals. The old horse closes it eyes, reflects back upon his life, and silently waits for his given life to end. Saigyo-hoshi described a full moon in his poem, but I felt a little passing moon was somehow better suited.
 I wanted to express the quietness of life and death through ink, powder, and platinum in a monochrome world. I wanted to express that there is something real in the emptiness, and the reverberation the Japanese can sense in their hearts in the blank space around the falling cherry blossoms.