Work commentary・episode

On display at Hoshina Art Museum



 Spring is coming 

This is a painting about Yubiso countryside near Ikaho in Gunma.

When I was young, I did not know to express the beauty of the scene.

Sketching on site and returning back to Tokyo,  I tried to paint what I saw.

To make  the picture better , I tried changing the shape of trees, but my drawing was not impressive.

I had no idea to improve my painting, then, I showed  it to my master.

He said "Triangle-shaped mountain appealed to you, didn't you?  Then, why don't you repaint the sky?"

As I was suggested by the master, I painted the sky  with clear blue. But still it was a common picture.

Again I visited him to get an advice.

He said "You can use this" and gave me an expensive paint which I had never used before.

It didn't look sky-blue, rather deep color one.

I was a little bit suspicious.

However, when I painted the  sky with this.  Oh my God!

White mountain became  lively, and my drawing became a fine picture!!

That was a moment that I realized the essence of  drawing:

I don't need to draw the scenery as it looks like, and the value of the paint made with natural  pigments.

This picture reminds me of my great teacher who  taught me how to draw my expression.




I was initially aiming to be a landscape painter.  

However, due to some circumstances,  I was not able to go out for sketching. 

 I started drawing things around me and gradually realized  how interesting it was. 

Since then, portraits and flowers became the major themes  for following 10 years.  

Finally I began to draw everything.

There are things easy to draw as well as hard to draw. 

 Portrait is easy to paint. Roses are not,  because it’s too pretty.  

 Still I was eager to draw roses.  I tried and failed many times.   

While drawing, I was often driven by a desire to draw  with powerful brushwork like an oil painting artist does.  

 Japanese style painting requires delicate and very sensitive  brushwork. 

This may be why few roses seen in Japanese style paintings. 

Peonies go well with Japanese style painting. 

Roses I draw sometimes look peonies in my work. 

  It’s a long way to go, isn't it?



 Blooming in the field

  The little garden near the entrance of my atelier  is already overgrown with summer grass in a few days. 

  Now I leave it as it is.  

When autumn comes,  it will be replaced by  autumn grass naturally.    

The changing scenery of my little garden reminds me  of the phrases in “Hojoki”, Japanese classical literature  written by Kamono Chomei in 13th century: 

“Everything changes and disappears before you know it.”

 The dark shadow of summer grass also disappears,  and in the autumn, the wind passes  between the leaves and light passes through.  

The wind seems to have “colorless color”.  

Old people used to call autumn “Hakushu”,  which means white fall in Japanese. 

White is my favorite color. 

It has not only a little fragility  but the strength of the core. 



 Pine breeze

The portrait I draw looks cool.

She shows neither happiness nor sadness on her face. 

And it is difficult to know what this person thinks and  does.

With this, there is no island to attach.

I am eliminating the superficial feeling  of the person.

At school, you should have been taught to express your emotions.

But my painting style is the exact opposite.

Please remember the Buddha statues, none of them show a happy or sad feeling of certain moment.

Instead of showing  emotional feeling, their figures try to express the great soul of them.

This leads us to know their noble spirit  and dignity.  

The theme in my work is the same as that.  

To draw happy or sad feeling we experience every day is not the theme in my work.

The theme in my work is to express the joy  of being, the importance of our existence there.

This also help us to recognize the dignity of human being.

I want to draw a picture as if only the spirit  stands and sits.



 Around us, everyone thinks about the universe a lot.  

There might be the end of the universe, or  someday it will shrink again;  no, no, it is expanding continuously.  

But you definitely think the universe is the biggest. 

But you know,  look.   There is someone  who is holding the universe easily. 

There seems to be a bigger world  than the universe. 




”Rose”  “Blooming in the Field”  “Pine breeze”  and  “Universe” are exhibited in my past solo    exhibitions.

One day, I decided to hold a solo exhibition every year  for the next 10 years.   

Otherwise, I was about to stop it on the way. 

 It is normal to have a solo exhibition once every few years,  as Japanese style painting took a long time to draw.

 I had to spend hard days to keep my mind sharpening  the senses to be a step in the next work every year around. 

But I felt alive and refreshed in every moment of those days. 

 I worked on a different theme for each exhibition,  and as I did that, the color of “Sasaki Yoh”  which characterizes my painting was coming out naturally.  

 The color,  the image of myself, is appreciated.  

However, creating another image is also the job of the artist. 

On the other hand,  it is important to betray the expectations of those who  come to see my painting.  

I’m spending my days with that in mind.


 Red and white peony

  The director of Hoshina Museum of Art asked me  to draw something for a folding screen they have.  

I loved to accept his offer. 

It is fun to draw a picture that I know where to exhibit.  

Red and white flowers came to mind,  the most gorgeous and brilliant image they have.  

Shall I draw a rose, a peony, or a camellia?  

I chose a peony, of course.

 Cherry blossoms

 I moved to the place where I live now 30 years ago. 

When spring comes, the front of the house is full of flowers,  flowers and flowers. It is a cherry blossom woods.   

The cherry blossoms seen through the window showed me  their various beauty in the daytime, in the light of dusk,  in the light of the moon and in the rain. 

Flowers in the dark night  are blurry and  not easy to distinguish petals, but I can see and feel  the beauty of cherry blossoms as a whole.   

I was shocked to see such cherry blossoms.

Before I know the natural beauty of cherry blossoms,  I was chasing around Ueno or other places to see famous  cherry blossoms many Japanese people praise. 

I did not see the beauty through my eyes  but through others’ eyes. 

I tried to find the stereotyped image of cherry blossoms.  

Since I know the natural beauty of cherry blossoms  near my house,  I can appreciate the cherry blossoms  of other places as well. 

I hope you also enjoy the beauty of cherry blossoms of  my work.  



When sketching a cherry blossom,  I usually draw with a ballpoint pen. 

I do not draw petals as it looks like  cherry blossom emblems.

 How I draw it?   The cherry blossom I draw is in the shape of square. 

Of course you may see  various shapes in my painting,  but most of them are square ones. 

I think the cherry blossom in the square shape look more vivid.

However,  looking at my sketching of plums,   it looks like circle. 

I find each flower has its own appearance  in my painting. 



 Two Bridges

 I went on a sketch trip when I was young.  

I walked around, holding boards to find the right place for sketching. 

There can't be such a custom-made place, and it's just time.

Looking at my master, he had finished the first sketching  and surprisingly he was about to start the second one.   

He just turned toward other side at the same place for the second one.

“Any place could be a good picture.  It is important  to observe the landscape with sharp eyes”, he told me.  

It is not easy to do so.    

After decades,   I went to a small inn at the trailhead of the Southern Alps.  

I was caught in the rain and had no choice but sketching  under the eaves of the front door.   

I thought the scenery of surroundings wouldn’t be ideal  for drawing . 

But while drawing it, I had a confidence that this was  going to be a fine picture!  

Well, I remember what my master told me in my youth.   

This painting was displayed in the ex-Prime Minister’s  official residence. 

 Things sometimes go well than we expect.  

Thanks to the rain. 



 Clouds floating in the blue sky are nice,   but such clouds are high, seem to be far from me.  

Compared to that,  I prefer the clouds floating in the sky  over the green grassland. 

I feel I can touch them  from the field.  

I think it’s good to draw a picture flat  without considering a three-dimensional  effect and sense of distance.  

I believe that viewer can freely imagine  the space and distance on this painting.   

I am happy to share your memories with  this green field of my painting.



 Calm night

 When expressing a dark night,  you’ll all be convinced using black color.  

It was the mainstream of Western culture at some point.  

But in Japan, the night has often been painted brightly  since the eighth century, the Heian period.   

It is a brightness in which soft light shines out of anywhere,  as Buddha’s mercy illuminates the surroundings.
In modern times,  many artists paint night as a blue space.    

In the ranch stable of this picture,  the horses I saw  during the daytime were having a quiet and relaxing time.   

I wanted to apply the deep red color which,  I thought, would imply a warm night where  horses were sleeping. 

Color is free to use.    It is one of the pleasures in painting.



 Green filed

 I visited a ranch that raised horses in Hokkaido and   spent  nearly three weeks of one summer.   

For horses in Hokkaido,  there's no way  to accept a stranger like me who suddenly appeared in a place where they had never seen anyone other than ranch staff.

First few days for me was just watching at them eating grasses, 100m away from them.

They never showed me their full body.

When approaching to them, they turned around,  still eating grasses.

On the ranches near the city,  horses are familiar  with peaple,  and some horses bite or pull drawing boards through the fence when sketching.

Well, that  was cute, though.

Compared to the city-horses, facing the cautious country-hoses in Hokkaido was like a serious game to me.

It was hard to draw frontal or sideway body  of them in the field.

The horses, mountain, the grass field, and the gentle line of the hills:
the time passes slowly there.

Anybody who visit this green field are  embraced and may feel a joy of being.

My painting is also embraced and lively in brilliant color.




 In my diary dated 1st of November,  I wrote   migratory bird, “jobitaki” is coming back.  

20th of March is the last day  I saw “jobitaki”.  Migratory birds come in November and  return to their home in March every year.

They have neither map nor calendar.  

I respect  the wonder of their behavior.  

The natural world is amazing.  

The moon, stars and the sun also go back and forth. 

They are traveling also, and we live on the earth  that is moving, too. 

It is quite natural that our minds are also moving.  

And someday we return to the place  where we came from.   

I feel someone exists somewhere,  who knows and understands these mysteries  of the universe.

Thank you for looking at my pictures.
Thank you for reading to the end.

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