Art: Tomihiro Hoshino
For more than 30 years, a woman from Hokkaido, Japan, who stayed at our house while studying the local PTA has been sending me magnificent calendars.
The calendars are from a talented artist and former athlete whose paralysis led him to master holding a brush in his mouth. His name is Tomihiro Hoshino.
An article at AccessibleJapan reports, “Tomihiro Hoshino was an experienced 24-year-old gymnastics teacher with a real passion for the sport. An active mountain climber and gymnastics instructor, his life changed completely as he was demonstrating a double somersault technique to a group of junior high school students. Hoshino unfortunately injured his neck during the maneuver and since that day he has been completely paralyzed from the neck down.
“The accident was a serious blow to this extremely active person who was forced to lay motionless for nine years in a Gunma orthopedic Hospital where he was kept under heavy surveillance for respiratory problems and complications as a result of the injury. He and his family never gave up hope that his physical condition would stabilize and improve. Although it took nine years, and he came close to death many times, there was always hope for the future.
“Many say that this hope came two years after his accident. In 1972 one of the patients that had stayed in the same room as Tomihiro Hoshino was being transferred into a different hospital. He asked that the staff, as well as all of the people that stayed with him, to sign a card as a memento of his time in the hospital. Tomihiro couldn’t come up with a solution as to how he would be able to sign his name for the man but with the help of his mother he was able to hold a pen in his mouth and eventually sign Tomo. This would be the beginning of how Tomihiro would begin his career in writing and painting.
“The second event that produced real inspiration for Tomihiro Hoshino was a time that a friend brought him flowers and left them in the window. …
“He was moved to start expressing what they meant to him. He began to gradually draw flowers and eventually became an adept painter with his mouth. …
“Tomihiro Hoshino has successfully produced hundreds of pieces of artwork, many of his essays and poems have been published and his work is displayed in permanent exhibitions at the Tomihiro Hoshino Museum. …
“If you are interested in Tomihiro Hoshino’s works, you can purchase them on Amazon or visit his art gallery in Gunma, Japan.”
I feel lucky to have had this decades-long friendship with a woman in Hokkaido. Although we haven’t seen each other since the 1980s, her daughter, Mika, came to visit while living in New York. Mika helped decorate our Christmas tree that year. Nowadays, I never do the tree without thinking of her.
Image: Tomihiro Art Museum