A-Bomb Survivor’s Poetry Displayed as Calligraphy in Tokyo

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Naoyo Nishimoto explains her works at a gallery in Ginza, Tokyo.

A calligraphy exhibition featuring bold calligraphy based on tanka poems written by Tsutomu Yamaguchi, who had been exposed to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and later appealed for peace, is held at a gallery in the Ginza district of Tokyo.

The exhibition is planned by 59-year-old calligrapher Naoyo Nishimoto. She hopes it will encourage many people to think about the reality of the atomic bombings and nuclear abolition.

Yamaguchi was working at a shipyard in Nagasaki. While on business trip to Hiroshima, he experienced the atomic bombing on August 6, 1945. Three days later, he again experienced an atomic bombing in Nagasaki. He composed tanka poems about the atomic bombings and was active as a storyteller. In 2006, he appealed for nuclear abolition at the U.N. Headquarters in New York. He died in 2010.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
One of Nishimoto’s calligraphic works

Nishimoto, who works at a facility for the elderly in Kobe, learned about Yamaguchi through a TV program 13 years ago. She was impressed by how he continued to call for nuclear abolition even beyond the age of 90.

This is her first solo exhibition, and she is displaying 12 works, some of them on wide panels more than a meter high. To express the horrific damage caused by the atomic bombings, Nishimoto made her own straw brushes to express roughness and used a mixture of black powdered pigment, water and glue to create blurring.

To convey the message to a wide range of people in Japan and abroad, English translations accompany each work. Nishimoto said: “Yamaguchi’s tanka poems directly convey the tragedy of being twice exposed to the bomb. I would like to convey Yamaguchi’s wish for peace through my calligraphy.”

The exhibition is being held through Aug. 12. Admission is free.