I am really enjoying the program. When I am in Japan, I don’t have much opportunity to realize what other perspectives there are in the world. For example, I did an exercise during ESI to share about the issue of “kodokushi (dying alone)” to a non-Japanese. If I brought this up to a Japanese, we would have a common sense that it is a societal problem, but to someone outside Japan, it doesn’t trigger to them as an issue. I would have to explain the cultural background and make clear why the society need to act on this issue.
Another thing I realized is that here in ESI, we could be who we are. In Japan, we introduce ourselves with where we belong– such as X University or Y Company, but at ESI, we have to introduce ourselves through your own interest or what you have been doing instead of which university or company you belong to. The differences in what we value is very different even within Asia, which was an eye-opener to me. The world is truly a wide place!
What story or message would you like to share to the world?
I want to introduce Japanese Culture through Japanese Calligraphy (shodo). The interesting aspect of Japanese culture is that it’s all about “connection”. For instance, kemari is a traditional Japanese soccer where you lose if you kick the ball to a place where the other person cannot reach or kick. You need to communicate and connect with others so that you can keep the ball in the air. Japanese calligraphy is also the same. When you write a character on the paper with the brush, sometimes it breaks down the balance. However, you can make up for it when you draw the next character by connecting to the next character with a balance. Having a connection with others or a sense of belonging to a community is one of the basic needs of a human being. I hope to spread the idea and create communities through Japanese calligraphy around the world.
What have you done to make the change?
I have been volunteering in many nursing and personal care facilities in Japan with Japanese calligraphy therapy. Usually Japanese calligraphy is an individual work but Japanese calligraphy therapy works in a team. Each person in the team will be responsible for one stroke of kanji and relay the baton to the next person. In order to create a balanced calligraphy, you need to have compassion and trust among each other. Therefore, Japanese calligraphy therapy is a way to connect with others and build a strong community, which made me realize that Japanese calligraphy therapy could be a way to bridge Japan and other parts of the world.
What/who are you most inspired by?
I am most inspired by my college professor, Heizo Takenaka. He is my role model. Even though he is very successful, he continues to learn from others and keep up with what is going around the world. His action supports the spirit and objective of practicality – I respect that attitude.
What keeps you motivated?
My motivation stems from my family. My mother is also a calligrapher and I have followed the steps of her in the field of calligraphy. I learned calligraphy in a different city from where I had lived, so my father had to drive me 5 hours to get to calligraphy school. I would not have been able to be in the position of where I am right now without the support of my family. I like to see them be happy and be proud of my achievements. I believe that if I cannot love and make my family happy, I cannot love and make others happy.
What advice would you give to people interested in the ESI program/ Social Innovation?
ESI is a great place to connect with people from other cultural backgrounds. Through workshops and site visits, you understand yourself and clarify your intentions by examining how you feel through hearing stories from changemakers, learning about design thinking, and discussing with peers from around the world. ESI is a great opportunity to articulate your vision and create paths toward your future. If you have a feeling that you somehow want to contribute to the world, I would highly recommend you to connect with the world through ESI.