Travelling Japanese Calligraphy Artist Shares His Story

A traveling Japanese calligraphy artist and cancer survivor demonstrated his art and shared his experience overcoming blood cancer with students and faculty on Thursday in PUB 161.

Naoyuki Soyama has travelled across the world, setting up his workshop on the streets of Russia, Japan, Taiwan, Finland and Hong Kong creating and selling Japanese calligraphy art. This was Soyama’s first visit to the U.S.

At Thursday’s event, examples of Soyama’s artwork were laid out, along with a variety of tools and materials. These included fifteen different brushes made from cow-ear-hair, chicken and ostrich feathers and a bowl of ink.

Students gathered around Soyama to see him paint Japanese calligraphy, some kneeling on the ground to get a better view. Using swift and smooth motions, Soyama painted requested words on a 6-by-2-foot-long blank sheet of paper.

Attendees were encouraged to write down their names as they came in, so Soyama could paint their names on business cards that he handed out at the end of the presentation.

Japanese instructor Yoko Sato, who introduced Soyama to the forty-odd attendees, translated a short video clip explaining his story.

When he was 18, Soyama was diagnosed with terminal blood cancer. He took up calligraphy art as a coping skill. After a year of painful therapy, Soyama “got fed up with it” and decided to try a bone marrow transplant, which proved successful. Soyama went back to work the following year.

Soyama said he themed his artwork “Chance,” because he was given another chance at life.

“I want to give everyone I meet something real coming from my soul, and that’s my motivation,” he said in the video.

The event was sponsored by ASCC and the Japanese Program.

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