Tomihiro Hoshino, Quadriplegic Poet and Painter, Dies at 78; Leaves Behind More Than 500 Works

Courtesy of the Tomihiro Art Museum
Top: Tomihiro Hoshino
Bottom: “Chiisanami” (Small fruit), a major work by Hoshino created in 1993

Tomihiro Hoshino, a poet and painter who was paralyzed in all four limbs but continued to create with a brush in his mouth, died Sunday from respiratory failure. He was 78.

A funeral will be held for close family members, and another gathering to remember the deceased will be held later.

Hoshino was born in what is now the city of Midori, Gunma Prefecture. After graduating from Gunma University’s faculty of education, he was hired as a physical education teacher at a junior high school in the prefecture in 1970. While demonstrating a mat exercise, he suffered a spinal injury to his neck and was paralyzed in all four limbs.

He began to write poems and draw pictures from his hospital bed, holding a brush in his mouth. He painted watercolors of flowers and grasses that also featured poems about familiar subjects and his way of life for about 50 years, leaving behind more than 500 works.

Exhibitions on his works were held throughout Japan, and in 1991, the Tomihiro Art Museum opened in his hometown.