Abstract of the lecture
- Early Years
I was born on September 30, 1924 as the second daughter of Motozumi Ono (father) and Toyo Ono (mother). At the age of 2, I was adopted by my uncle (my father’s younger brother) Satoru Shimura and I moved into his home in Kichijoji, Tokyo—an event that I now gracefully accept as destiny. Not a day passed by without me feeling an indescribably profound gratitude toward my adoptive parents. As my adoptive father (then working for NYK Line) was transferred from one location to the next, I also moved through a series of girls’ schools—from Shanghai to Qingdao, Nagasaki to Kobe—all of which left me with many fond memories.
- Turning Point
At the age of 17, I came to learn about the circumstances of my birth, and this revelation totally changed my life. Suddenly blessed with a new family—my natural parents and siblings—I felt both confused and extremely happy. Although I was sometimes troubled by mixed emotions toward my adoptive parents, I was also overwhelmed by a world of art that was unfolding before my eyes for the very first time in my life.
- Awakening to Art
During the year in which the secret of my birth was confided to me, my second oldest brother Shinogu passed away. It was in this same year that I first set eyes on my mother’s loom, which was an object of irresistible interest. I had lost my beloved brother but discovered the art of weaving. My oldest brother Motoe had set his mind on becoming a painter and would draw images of the Buddha and churches in blazing vermilion. At that time, both my brother and I were studying art at Isaku Nishimura’s Bunka Gakuin (a vocational school) but Nishimura was imprisoned for protesting against war and his school was closed. This made a very strong impression on me.
- Becoming Independent
In my early 30’s, I got divorced and took custody of my two daughters. On the recommendation of Muneyoshi Yanagi, I decided to devote my life to weaving, in the hope that I would be able to fulfill the dying wish of my oldest brother who had met with an untimely death at the age of 29.
- Japanese Colours and the Colour Theories of Goethe and Steiner
With the realization that I could create an infinite variety of colours from plant-based materials, I was stimulated to imagine how the natural world is structured and to consider how the universe works. This helped me to further expand the scope of my work. I also realized that the traditional colours of Japan had already appeared in collections of tanka poems (Man'yoshu
) and legacy tales (The Tale of Genji
) of ancient Japan. It was also around this time that I first encountered the colour theories of Goethe and Steiner, which opened my eyes to new worlds.
- New Education
Working in the shadow of a rapidly developing modern society in which people think about everything quantitatively, I came to recognize the importance of education that encourages one to delve into the subject of quality. Eager to communicate my experiences to the youth of the next generation by going a step beyond “my own work,” I established a school that is aligned spiritually with one of my daughters, my grandchildren, and my pupils. It is my sincere ambition to convey to young people concepts that are not taught in conventional school education: coexistence with nature, the human spirit, and the awakening of one’s senses.