— So, you had originally been studying Japanese-style paintings?
I majored in Japanese-style paintings in university. An element that sparked my interest in the style was the kinds of materials that were used to create the pieces. Japanese-style paintings are mainly composed of ecological materials such as minerals, water, seashells, and traditional Japanese paper. I was intrigued by the style’s fine representation of the beauties of nature as well as the dynamism hidden within the natural materials.
Another feature I was fascinated by was the style’s application of Yohaku. I had always been conscious of applying blank spaces when I created my paintings. When I dance, I always imagine a vision of the line drawings which also act as foundations for Japanese-style paintings. I dance while acknowledging there are compositions, outlines, and blank spaces on the paper. Instead of having a perspective-based recognition of images, I believe my background as a painter of Japanese-style paintings contributes to how I’m capable of grasping where these spaces exist. Additionally, I believe my sense of color is heavily rooted in the style. I am very fond of its sense of silence as well as its gravitated feel. This sense is similar to what I aim to achieve as a dancer.
— Please tell us how you discovered the world of dance.
As I created my paintings while attending university, I began wondering what methods I could utilize to create natural expressions that do not intervene with physical mediums. For example, a style of expression that I could manipulate through my flesh and blood. These contemplations inspired me to start dancing. I took an interest in communicating with my viewers directly through the use of my body. This may also be because I was not proficient in verbal communication. However, I felt I was capable of being my honest self while I danced. This is how I shifted my mode of expression from painting to dance.
— How did you pursue dance as a mode of physical expression?
I traveled overseas to practice various dance genres including contemporary, jazz, and street dance. It was sort of like drawing a world map through dance. I had my first epiphany through African dance. I was overwhelmed when I joined an energetic session in which participants would dance freely to improvised music. This is where I truly discovered that music and dance had equivalent properties. From there, I would gradually begin delving deeper into the world of live music and dance, and discover that these elements were crucial parts of traditional performance arts.
I then went on to continue to expand my world map of dance by traveling around the world to watch, learn, and participate in various folk dances of each region, but I hadn’t considered practicing any of the traditional dance styles from my place of origin. After I graduated from university, I had an opportunity to perform overseas. Naturally, when overseas, people see me as a Japanese national. However, back then, my style of expression was inspired by my interpretation of varying folk dances from overseas. I had then come to realize that I had only been borrowing from the cultures of other countries. This realization was what triggered me to feel the urge to educate myself on traditional cultures and traditional performances of Japan.
— Were there any realizations or discoveries that you encountered when you approached Japanese traditional cultures after your experiences overseas?
This is a very aesthetic based representation of how I felt, but I felt a sense of culture in the silent aspects. Rather than a sense of openness, I felt a gravitational force that was maintained internally. I did have doubts concerning my identity as a Japanese dancer who performed overseas since I lacked knowledge related to Japanese culture. However, while I was performing in France during my late twenties, I was told my style of dance was reminiscent of earth, and that unlike in some western cultures, where gods are believed to be in the heavens, my deity of worship exists within the earth. I believe this analysis made me realize that I had been naturally capable of conveying my experiences being born and raised in Japan through my body movements and senses. It was at this moment I felt I had finally been accepted as an artist. From there, I felt a stronger urge to discover my roots and started exploring deeper into Japanese cultures as well as other Asian cultures. I had particularly focused on traditional Korean performance arts as well as Kagura and Noh of Japan.
— So, you are saying you’ve felt a strong bond with Korean dance.
I believe traditional Korean dance is spiritually and physically similar to the Japanese style of dance. It is often said that Korea is a country that is close, yet far away, but if you trace back through history, there are several influences in Gagaku and Noh as well as other traditional performance arts that come from China. When we directly encounter traditional cultures that have been passed down from generation to generation, we can sense the relationship between cultures that connect across borders, and I feel we can come together as one through them. In addition to Japanese styles, by practicing performance art styles from various regions of Asia, my perception of beauty woven with the influences of each region and its people as well as my sense of diversity became richer.
— While you freely incorporate diverse cultural styles in your performances, do you have an ideal form of dance?
I consider flowers as my master. As I dove deeper into the world of dance, I began discovering influences in flowers and the otemae of tea as well as in various scenes of nature. At the same time, I started to question what methods were left for me to express since the world was already full of fascinating dances. It was during this time I discovered the beauty of flowers.
Like plants, human beings have roots sprouting into the earth, legs and body like stems and stalks, hands like leaves that sway in the wind, and can express delight like flowers. I was able to discover my ideal style of dance in their natural growth process as well as in the way they sway in the wind. Since then, whenever I felt lost, I came to strongly desire to become like a flower. I believe that there are various clues that I can draw influences from within the relationship between human beings and nature.
— So, you’ve been around the world, finally arriving in Japan. Could you tell us about your activities here?
Our concept here at our old Japanese residence “Keika Misho” is to regain the spirituality of the body. I would like for our visitors to discover and sense how to handle their bodies with care in their daily lives. For example, in the city, one can move around in a carefree manner on concrete for its sturdiness. However, traditional Japanese residences, which are built on frail materials such as paper and old trees, can easily be damaged. Handling each movement with care throughout one’s daily life will lead to handling their bodies with care, bringing about essence-based discoveries through delicate gestures, which will then offer clues on how to generate change in oneself.
Another thing we embrace is to make time to hear your inner voice. For example, if you close your eyes after you sway your body, you will naturally feel that lingering pull in your body. However, in our modern society, where things change at a hectic pace, it is extremely common that we are unable to recognize the subtle resonance between various phenomena. Therefore, I would like for our visitors to experience the surfacing sensation of resonating phenomena that naturally exist within our tranquil space. I would like for them to discover how rich their bodies are of resonating phenomena. It is sort of like the feeling we had when we’d acknowledge the signs of summer through our bodies when we were children. I believe that understanding that the spirit and body are closely connected will lead to a gentle and peaceful communication between oneself as well as with other people.
— Finally, could you tell us of any future activities and prospects you wish to pursue through this space.
To even have the slightest interest in one’s body leads to living a rich life. I would like to share this feeling with everyone through this space. It might sound like an exaggeration, but I wish for world peace. I would like to continue my efforts to achieve harmony between all things.
Having been inspired by cultures and performance arts that were transmitted to Japan through the Silk Road, the artist traveled to gain first-hand experiences of various folk and indigenous arts from countries ranging from Africa to Japan. Through these experiences, the artist continues her quest to discover the essence of an empty physicality that can rarely be seen in performance arts from ancient times.
In addition to exploring the history of traditional performance arts and culture, the artist currently hosts the rehearsal space Keika Misho in Nagahama of Shiga Prefecture.
"Respect and Go Beyond"をミッションに日本の総合芸術である「茶の湯」をテクノロジーやストリートカルチャーなど様々な領域と掛け合わせ“再解釈”することで、茶の湯の持つ精神性や美意識を提起するアートプロデュース事業を展開する。
With the mission of "Respect and Go Beyond," the company is developing an art production business that raises the spirituality and aesthetics of the tea ceremony by "reinterpreting" the comprehensive Japanese art of "chanoyu" by crossing it with various domains such as technology and street culture.