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What is the 'Shohekiga Project'?
The Shohekiga Project will be conducted in the Townscape Preservation District of Takehara City, known as a `Little Kyoto’ town in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan. This project provides artists-in residence opportunities for young artists to create and present shohekiga (障壁画, large paintings on fusuma/sliding doors (襖絵, fusuma-é), or on byobu/Japanese folding screens (屏風絵, byōbu-é)) in historical buildings in the region and contribute to regional revitalization and preservation of cultural assets through the power of artwork.
Creation of shohekiga paintings by “artists-in-residence” will be carried out as part of the Japan Tourism Agency's "Tourism Restart Project".
In addition, a “Shoghekiga Exhibition” will be held with support of the Kao Foundation for Arts and Sciences and the Energia Culture and Sports Foundation.
Selection of young artists
To carry out this project, we sought three young artists who would reside in Takehara City and produce shohekiga paintings inspired by local nature, history, culture and landscapes from 28 August to 16 October, 2023. From among the many applications received, the following three artists were selected after an initial selection by local stakeholders and a strong screening by a Selection Committee consisting of art experts.
We hope that these artists will make a further forward progression with their artistic careers after their stay in Takehara.
Shohekiga Project Artists
Taiki Arita specialized in graphic design and graduated from the College of Fine Art & Humanities, Jacksonville University, Alabama, USA in 2011. His main themes are his roots in Hiroshima, the sea, and music. He focuses on abstract painting expressions. His recent work includes paintings and installations with a theme based on the Seto Inland Sea, Japan. He visited Germany, England, and Okayama to create art works.
In 2013, Yukari Ohira completed research on Japanese paintings at the Graduate School of Tohoku University of Art and Design, and received the President's Encouragement Award from the university. She participated in the artist-in-residence program at Kiyoshi Saito Museum of Art Yanaizu in 2016 and her art work was stored in the museum collection. In 2021, she was accepted for the 2019 VOCA Exhibition (The Ueno Royal Museum) and the 8th Higashiyama Kaii Anniversary Nikkei Japanese Paintings Award Exhibition. Yukari Ohira’s solo exhibition ‘Connecting Waves’ (Tsunagi Art Museum) was held in 2023.
Kazuko Matsumoto completed mural paintings at the Graduate School of Fine Arts, Kyoto City University of Arts. In 2015, she won the Kyoten Award (highest award) at the 2015 Kyoten (Kyoto Exhibition). She also won the Asahi Shimbun Award in 2017 and the 2018 NHK Kyoto Broadcasting Station Award at the ‘Kyoto Prefecture Exhibition for Young and Talented Artists’. In 2019, her exhibition, ‘Second Flash’ (Gifu Prefectural Museum of Art), was held. In 2020, she held another exhibition, ‘Koshi Festival – No. 106 - Kazuko Matsumoto Exhibition –signal’ (Taigado, Kyoto) .
Commentaries by the Selection Committee
Kenichi Kondo (Senior Curator, Mori Art Museum)
This was my first visit to the Takehara Townscape Preservation District, where artists-in-residence and the exhibition will be held. I was impressed by the beauty of the townscape with its various types of buildings constructed between the Edo and Showa periods, and I was confident that the residential artists would be inspired by the town. On the other hand, this area has a strong ‘power of place,’ and I was also afraid that the art works exhibited here might be overwhelmed by the ‘power of the place.’ We conducted a review keeping the environment of Takehara in mind.
Although this was our first project, we received many applications from artists who are already active at the front lines of the art world, and it was not easy to narrow it down to just three artists. But we were able to choose from the recent works of the applicants. We selected three artists based on whether they are likely to create new works taking advantage of the painting media such as folding screens and sliding doors, whether they have the ability to create large-scale works, and whether their style is unyielding to the ‘power of the place.’ One of them, Mr. Taiki Arita, was praised for his references to emerging environmental issues, his experiences in various places of the Seto Inland Sea area including Takehara, and his ability to develop exhibits incorporating sounds.
Kenta Torimoto (Art Producer)
Prior to the selection, we carefully inspected the Takehara Townscape Preservation District and found that the urban structure of the mid-Edo period and realistic landscape of bygone days were beautifully preserved. I experienced the calm atmosphere blended with people’s daily lives, and felt that this area is a very stimulating environment for young artists, and also a place with great potential for artistic inspiration.
Although the process of selecting work from a large number of applications was complex, it was an exciting experience for me to imagine how each artist would create art pieces in Takehara.
Ms. Yukari Ohira was selected because of her extensive experience as an artist-in-residence, her ability to express specific geographical landscapes in the form of folding screen paintings, and her sense of scale that can be applied to any environment. We believe that her work has the power to capture the characteristics of a region and reinterpret them from a unique artistic perspective.
I look forward to seeing how Ms. Ohira incorporates Takehara's culture and history and sublimates it into her art.
Naho Yokoya (Artist)
I would like to thank everyone who applied for the Shohekiga project. Before the selection, we also visited Takehara Townscape Preservation District where the work would be produced and exhibited, and had several discussions based on the application documents. This project is about ‘creating work that takes advantage of Takehara's nature, history, culture, climate, landscape, etc.’, so one of the selection criteria was whether the artists have the ability to deeply absorb the place during their residency – this also means whether they have research skills. Looking at the work of Ms. Kazuko Matsumoto, I felt that she has an outstanding sense of stability in terms of her response to the place, her research skills, and the fact that her work will be donated and remain on site after the project’s completion. I am looking forward to seeing what kind of ‘shohekiga’ she will create based on her past work with fresco. Her art work has been seemingly quiet yet has a strong expressive power. I want to see how her thoughts about daily life in Takehara will sublimate into her ‘shohekiga’ art.
Although I found many of the works of those who were not selected very appealing, I was concerned about the contents of the submitted applications. Rather than listing a large number of works in the application forms, I think that the applications would be more appealing if you would list the works that you can recommend with confidence. To convey the words and information, it would be effective to have an outsider’s viewpoint. I look forward to their future activities.
Mori Art Museum
Chairperson of the Selection Committee
Born in 1969, he earned a MA degree in Art History at Goldsmiths, University of London. Since 2003 he has been working for the Mori Art Museum. His curation works include "Roppongi Crossing 2010", "Andy Warhol", "Catastrophe and the Power of Art", "Chim↑Pom: Happy Spring", small solo exhibitions by Meiro Koizumi and Chikako Yamashiro, and works by Bill Viola and Gordon Matta-Clark. In 2014-15, he served as a visiting researcher at the Hamburger Bahnhof Museum of Contemporary Art in Berlin. He was a judge for the Kawamura Arts and Cultural Foundation Socially Engaged Art Support Grant (2019-2022).
Photo courtesy of:
Mori Art Museum
After completing her doctorate at Tokyo University of the Arts, Graduate School of Fine Arts, she was selected as an overseas trainee in 2009 by Japan’s Cultural Affairs Agency, and lived in Italy and the UK. She stayed and worked in Burkina Faso and Italy from 2012 to 2014 to create artistic productions. Since 2013, she has been invited to produce at the AIR Onomichi (Artist in Residence Onomichi). From 2017 onwards, she has been involved in planning and producing art projects domestically and internationally, in addition to her individual artistic productions and presentations, such as "Art and Archaeology." She also actively collaborates with experts in different fields, such as cultural anthropologists and archaeologists.
In 2006, he established the art management office "office339" in Shanghai, China, and has been planning and producing interdisciplinary art projects in China, Japan, and the Asia region, with Shanghai as his base. Since 2013, he has been the main organizer of the outdoor festival "GANKE FES" in his hometown of Shintoku-cho, Hokkaido. He is currently affiliated with stu Co., Ltd. and PROJECT ATAMI. He has served as the program director for the "ATAMI ART GRANT" since 2021.
About Takehara Townscape Preservation District
Takehara, Little Kyoto in Hiroshima
The Shohekiga Project will be conducted in Takehara （竹原）City located in the mid-south of Hiroshima Prefecture. Takehara is a salt-producing town that faces the Seto Inland Sea and is known as a "Little Kyoto" town. The town has a history as a manor of Kyoto's Shimogamo Shrine, and in the Edo period (1603-1867), the townspeople's culture was greatly fostered by rich merchants called "hamadanna (浜旦那)" who prospered and made fortunes in salt production, saké brewing, and shipping. In the Takehara Townscape Preservation District, which was selected as an Important Preservation District for Groups of Traditional Buildings in 1982, you can see the historical transition of architectural styles from the Edo period to the Meiji (1868-1912), Taisho (1912-1926), and Showa (1926-1989) eras. The various designs of lattices, walls, and railings of the houses make up the elegant, dignified townscape. In the townscape, there are many alleys and you can feel the lives of people from the past.
Takehara's nature and culture
The saké and salt that represent Takehara's food culture have been nurtured by the local nature. Even today, in Takehara, “wa-en (和塩, Japanese salt)” , which is rich in minerals and full of flavor, is still produced. There are also three saké breweries in Takehara: Fujii Shuzo Co., Ltd., Taketsuru Shuzou Co., Ltd., and Nakao Saké Brewerey Co., Ltd., which brew saké using the ``soft water brewing method'' that characterizes Hiroshima's saké.
The townscape, architecture, and food culture of Takehara are alive and well today
In the Takehara Townscape Preservation District, there are stores, cafés and restaurants that have been renovated from old houses and stores in the area. You can feel the respect for the architectural culture left over from ancient times. In addition, the dishes served at these cafés and restaurants make use of local ingredients and are devised to reflect history and culture. At NIPPONIA HOTEL Takehara Seiencmachi and some restaurants in the city serve Takehara’s traditional cuisine for guests, gyohan (魚飯), which is also designated as a 100 -year food by Japan’s Cultural Affairs Agency.
Video works and movies shot in Takehara
Takehara's nature and townscape are also depicted in the video works and movies. Movies shot in Takehara include Nobuhiko Obayashi's film “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (1983)”, “Rurouni Kenshin The Final Chapter (2021)”, and “The Master Sake Brewers (2022).” Also, included are the animé “Tamayura (2010)”, and the NHK TV drama series “Massan (2014-2015)”.
To know more about Takehara
For information on Takehara and Takehara Townscape Preservation District, please see the following websites.
TAKEHARA Hiroshima’s Little Kyoto
Day Trip from Hiroshima to Takehara (Hiroshima's Little Kyoto) and Okunoshima
A Weekend Getaway To Rabbit Island
From Sake to Whisky: How A City near Hiroshima Birthed one of Japan’s Finest Spirits
Takehara: Little Kyoto
Access to Takehara Townscape Preservation District
- 25 minutes by car from Hiroshima Airport
- 1 hour and 10 minutes ride by express bus "Kaguyahime-go 「かぐや姫号」" from JR Hiroshima Station (get off at "Michinoeki Takehara 「道の駅竹原」")
- 15-minute walk from JR Kure Line (呉線) "Takehara（竹原）" station
- 20 minutes by car from Sanyo Expressway Kawachi IC
- 10-minute walk from Shinkobashi (新港橋) bus stop
Organization, planning, and management
Setonaikai Ecotourism Association (Secretariat of the Shohekiga Project)