— What made you decide to focus to Oriental medicine?
Well, it’s related to why I established Tsuyukusa Clinic. I used to work as an emergency physician. During this time, I would prescribe patients with analgesics when I treated them for first aid. However, analgesics would only temporarily control their symptoms and not provide them with a cure. As I continued to explore various symptomatic treatments that are required in emergency medicine as well as how medical treatment should originally be, I concluded that I would shift my focus to herbal medicine, which is a study that is deeply linked to curing illnesses and poor physical health through balanced diets. What I find amazing about herbal medicine is, for example, kakkonto has been around as medicine for over 2000 years. However, only certain components of the medicine have been revealed to this day.
Around the time I had genuinely begun handling herbal medicines, I had been conducting research on tumor vaccines. Although it is important to inspect medical effects through objective values, I had begun to shift my focus on conveying merits through the law of nature, a factor that simply cannot be converted into data. Furthermore, my interest in herbal medicine grew deeper after I witnessed several cases where patients had shown dramatic improvement from disorders that could not be cured by Western medicine.
Even within the medical science field, there are contrasting ideas. For example, there are practitioners that are in pursuit of a science-based approach which focuses on physical aspects that can be perceived visually. On the other hand, there are practitioners that are in pursuit of an art-based approach which focuses on aspects such as the mind and spirit which are factors that cannot be perceived visually. With that in mind, Western medicine is a medical concept which firmly considers what can be perceived visually as absolute while Oriental medicine acknowledges what cannot be seen. In the actual world, there is an overwhelmingly vast number of factors that cannot be perceived visually. Understanding this, I want to focus on what is yet to be seen in the medical field. In other words, I am more interested in the art-based approach. I want to set my sight on the fundamental factors that come before medical treatment. There is a limit to how much Western medicine, which is mainly evidence-based, can achieve. This is why I started to shift my focus on Oriental medicine.
— It makes sense to live our lives based on natural components. What exactly is being healthy both spiritually and physically?
Being healthy is being capable of recovering from spiritual and physical disorders by yourself. Having a means to detect and fix symptoms at an early stage both consciously and subconsciously is what defines being healthy. In other words, a person’s natural healing power leads to vitality, and I believe herbal medicine is highly effective in improving vitality. Therefore, I regard herbal medicine as a form of fundamental treatment. For example, if chemical sedatives are used to cure headaches, you wouldn’t be able to find from what part of your lifestyle the symptoms developed. However, through the use of herbal medicine, you can discover how the symptoms developed in a person’s lifestyle by observing which medicine was effective. This will prevent the person from repeating the same mistakes and lead to improving one’s vitality.
— I see. Moderation is a notion that is prominent in Oriental philosophy. Is moderation a crucial factor in health?
Yes, it definitely is. For example, if a person’s immunity is too strong, the person risks contracting allergies and connective tissue diseases (illnesses such as rheumatism, etc., where a person’s immune cells attack their own cells). If a person’s immunity is too weak, the person risks contracting cancer and pneumonia. This also applies spiritually. A person cannot live if emotions such as anxiety and depression are too strong or too weak. There is a book by the philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti called Freedom from the Known. In it, he explains how we can free ourselves from what is expected. Being constricted to believing a fixed idea is true generates fear and anger. I believe that it is crucial to have a hybridized point of view. In medical science, it is impossible to discover differences through Western medicine alone. Having bidirectional indicators such as Western medicine and Oriental medicine, nature and science, as well as yin and yang helps me maintain my composure. I believe moderation is important in any aspect.
— You had spoken about how there are science-based and art-based approaches in medical science. Do you believe that there is a connection between beauty, which is an important value in art, and being natural and healthy?
I believe beauty is something that resonates with the law of nature. To me, creating works of art involves trimming segments discovered in nature and presenting them in separate spaces where the works can then be recognized as beautiful. It is similar to how we acknowledge the view of sunrises and sunsets as beautiful, and how we can continue watching the flickering flames of a bonfire for extended periods of time. The artist Yoko Ono even claims that there is no art piece that is more beautiful than the sky. In this way, by being exposed to art and sensing the laws of nature as well as the universe, we become capable of acknowledging what exists beyond these aspects. For example, one would break away from the laws of nature if chemical treatments are applied regularly, even though chemical medicines can provide immediate relief. This, I believe, is where the sense of beauty dissolves. Health and beauty are closely related, and people become more beautiful as they become healthier. Personally, the beauty of medical treatment can be considered as something that is enjoyable, and I believe this kind of concept is crucial as well. This is a factor that also applies to surgical operations and Western medicine.
— Very interesting. Considering the fact that human beings are also a part of nature, we can say that people draw closer to health while relying on beauty.
For example, if sound is emitted, its effect remains forever. I guess you can say it is kind of like paying respect to what is generated. I think it is similar to the conduct involved in tea ceremonies where both host and guest infuse a sense of commitment in every action. I believe it is crucial to maintain the balance between various substances in our universe. Art is not just something to experience. It is an element that invariably exists. I believe it is important to be conscious of beautiful things in life to maintain a mellow environment. Rather than the art pieces themselves, it is sort of like living your daily life in an art-based perspective.
— Is it quite like how you create your music? What are some things you are inspired by when you compose?
My philosophy is focused on a yin and yang ideology, and I believe that my inspiration will become weaker if I have an objective. Therefore, I try my best not to have a concrete goal when I create music. My method is quite simple. I play by simply concentrating on what I have in front of me. Since I don’t consider myself a musician, I compose my music after I start playing. I concentrate on becoming a vessel until I am capable of expressing my sounds through spiritual factors such as inspiration. Ignoring my ego as much as possible, I welcome and accept various phenomena that occur as I play.
— So, becoming a vessel is a crucial process to maintain an ideal balance for you. Do you have moments that motivate you to play or compose music?
In my case, I enjoy consciously reinterpreting sounds I emit while acting as a vessel in a subconscious state. As a composer, I would create my music as one, and then I would listen to my own music from the perspective of a non-musician during my activities as a doctor. Listening to music while I am not playing the role of a composer enables me to gather creative inspiration from each impactful momentary segment. While I was in school, I had always wanted to escape from the real world and drift off to a beautiful place, so I would direct that energy into my compositions. Now, I only create music when inspiration comes to me naturally.
— In your book Environment of the Body and Spirit, you have recommended ambient music as a means to achieve negative conversion for the brain. You’ve also stated that ambient music is a medium that is much like breathing as well as a style of music that offers silence simply by listening to it. And you yourself are a composer of ambient music.
Recently, there are more people that listen to ambient music. I feel that it is a genre that can provide a sense of protection to those that listen to it. For example, mechanical noises that we encounter daily are definitely a source of stress for us. Since human beings have originally settled in locations surrounded by natural sounds, while our societies have evolved to become more convenient, man-made machine noise, such as the extended noise emitted from motors, are a source of stress for us. I myself started making music out of my desire for tranquility in environments full of man-made noise. I believe ambient music was established during the industrial revolution as a means of protection or escape. I suppose this is why ambient music, which emerged spontaneously, was created to maintain a sense of balance within our modern society.
— Do you plan on further merging music with medical treatment?
It is said that the Japanese people have a low awareness of their sound environment in locations such as hospitals and restaurants compared to westerners. I’d like to change that. Actually, I feel Asian people generally have a low sense of awareness for sounds. It is understood that Japanese people use their right and left brains differently from people of Polynesian descent. Additionally, the Japanese language has a massive number of onomatopoeias. Though it is mainly because the Japanese language mainly contains vowels, it is said that the Japanese people have the ability to recognize the nuance of sounds. For example, the haiku “Up here, a stillness―― The sound of cicadas seeps into the crags” by Matsuo Basho is considered a sensitivity that is unique to Japan. However, due to the fact that the sounds of nature are becoming more and more inaudible in our modern society, I believe that this Japanese sensitivity is fading. While people are capable of acknowledging remarkable services and interior designs at hotels and restaurants, they have a surprisingly low level of awareness for the sounds that occur around them.
— In what kind of locations do you sense that certain sounds are out of place?
At locations such as hospitals and restaurants, where unspecified numbers of people come and go, I generally feel strident sounds to be bothersome. By strident sounds, I mean sounds that are invasive. For example, sounds with intent and purpose. I am extremely fond of the Zen philosophy proposed by Zen scholar Daisetsu Suzuki in which he advocates practicing Zen in one’s own personal space without disturbing other people’s personal spaces. I feel this philosophy encompasses a theme that is common between Zen and ambient music. In April, along with a ceramic artist, I am going to exhibit my work at a gallery called Pottari in Shirokane, Tokyo. I plan on exhibiting a piece that consists of 3 sound systems. The tracks emitted from each of the speakers do not interfere with each other and new compositions emerge randomly as the sounds intersect.
— Very interesting. So here, you’ve mentioned Zen. There is also an essence of cha-no-yu as a part of your clinic’s concept. What factor of cha-no-yu do you find appealing?
I am not too familiar with the customs of tea ceremonies, but I am interested in its history as a culture that has been borrowed from China and evolved into a culture that is unique to Japan. Besides, herbal medicines are a type of tea as well. My clinic’s name Tsuyukusa Clinic comes from Roji Soan and this examination room is also inspired by the two-tatami-mat sized tearoom Tai-an that was designed by Sen no Rikyu.
I often unintentionally discover connections between various elements. In my case, elements such as ambient music and tea as herbal medicine. I generally try not to have concrete goals for any of my activities. This is because I believe that not having a proper goal prevents my activities from becoming distorted, enabling me to genuinely focus on what I have in front of me. As a result, I am both active as a composer and doctor. Nonetheless, whether it be medical treatment, herbal medicine, or music, I aim to continue my activities while paying my respect to the growth force of nature which is one of the core concepts of physis.
— So, much like the ying-yang symbol, your philosophy contains contrasting factors such as ideas from both Oriental and Western cultures as well as aspects from both nature and science. We see that you’ve established a sense of harmony by understanding the aspects of both sides and discovered a healthy way people should go on with both mentally and physically.
This album was released from a record label organized by my unit Opitope. It is an album that changed my life. There are many ways to define ambient music and I believe it is a style of music that cannot be perceived unless listeners turn their attention to it, but has the potential to exist as a field that can provide them with sonic beauty. It also brings silence to an environment when played. I recommend playing it while you study or before going to bed. It is perfect for listeners who want to experience a beautifully tranquil time of comfort.
Born in São Paulo, Brazil in 1977. Director of Tsuyukusa Clinic located in Chofu City which specializes in Oriental medicine (herbal medicine). He has released 23 full length albums as an ambient music artist both domestically and internationally. He has also published the books Environment of the Body and Spirit: Choosing Between Herbal Medicines and Western Medicine (ele-king books) and Tsuyukusa Shiori Series (Tsuyukusa Bunko).
"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.