Thu, Nov 22, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Calligrapher tapped as Taketa City ambassador

GOODWILL:Chen Shih-hsien has held three exhibitions in Taketa City including last week’s Chikuraku Festival, where he honored Japanese sculptor Fumio Asakura

By Lin Tsui-yi and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter in Tokyo, with staff writer

An undated photograph shows calligrapher Chen Shih-hsien standing next to a handwritten sign advertising an exhibition of his works in Taketa City, Japan.

Photo courtesy of Chen Shih-hsien

Taiwanese calligrapher Chen Shih-hsien (陳世憲), who has long promoted cultural interaction with Japan, was on Friday last week invited to be a goodwill ambassador of Taketa City.

Chen said he first visited the city in Kyushu more than 20 years ago to visit a museum renovated from a samurai’s residence more than 400 years ago.

“At the time I thought to myself: ‘One day, I will hold an exhibition here,’” Chen said.

He later met a retired teacher in Taketa and the two became fast friends, leading to the city becoming his “home away from home,” which he vowed to visit at least once every year, Chen said.

Taketa in the southwest corner of Oita Prefecture is home to Oka Castle, a remnant of Heian Period architecture. The castle was popularized by local songwriter Taki Rentaro’s Kojo no Suki (Moon Over the Ruined Castle).

In 2015, Chen finally fulfilled his wish and held a calligraphy exhibition at the museum.

The exhibition also featured his two books: Taketa and I (竹田因緣) and Traveling Word — Chen Shih-hsien’s Calligraphy Around the World (字遊─陳世憲的書法世界旅行).

Both books contain stories of his interactions with people in Taketa, Chen said, adding that he often goes to sing Kojo no Suki at karaoke when he misses his friends in Taketa.

The city said it began arranging visits to Kaohsiung’s Tienliao District (田寮) in 2015 and last year made official its cultural tourism ties with the district.

Chen held his third exhibition in Taketa during the Chikuraku Festival, which took place from Friday to Sunday, and wrote a haiku to commemorate a statue of a woman carved by Japanese sculptor Fumio Asakura.

The festival has been celebrated annually since 2000, when it was started as a way to maintain local bamboo groves and attract tourists.

Asakura mentored Taiwanese sculptors Huang Tu-shui (黃土水) and Pu Tien-sheng (蒲添生) when they were studying in Tokyo, Chen said.

Taketa Mayor Katsuji Shuto presented Chen with the goodwill ambassador honor, while Chen said he would invite a group of Taiwanese artists to attend a newly constructed performance hall in the city.

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