”Good luck” shisa cheer up Fukushima at an exhibition in Koriyama

”Good luck” <em>shisa</em> cheer up Fukushima at an exhibition in Koriyama

At the MITSUO Shisa Art Museum in Makishi, Naha, Mitsuo Miyagi paints the main shisa, which will be given to Gallery Kan at his exhibition.

January 17, 2012 Kiyoshi Ujiie of Ryukyu Shimpo

In attempt to offer encouragement to the people of Fukushima, who are worried about radioactivity from the nuclear accident following the Great East Japan Earthquake, 35 year-old shisa craftsman from Naha, Mitsuo Miyagi crafts shisa holding a ball with the inscription of “fuku,” which means good luck in Japanese. He is giving one such shisa to the Gallery Kan in Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture and his Okinawan Shisa Exhibition will be held there from January 20. He said, “All I can do to help is to make shisa. Now is the time for the guardian shisa to go to work.”

Miyagi’s shisa are made from waste tiles and plaster from tile factories and demolition sites of old houses. “I love creating gods out of things that would otherwise be thrown away! There is nothing in the world that can’t somehow be used,” said Miyagi. He links the idea of shisa made from recycled materials with that of the reconstruction of the disaster affected areas in Fukushima.

Not long after the earthquake, hearing that there was a food shortage in the areas affected by the disaster, Miyagi packed goya and shima rakkyo in a box and sent it to his old friend Kazuhiro Sato of Gallery Kan.

Last summer, Sato then thought of using the power of shisa that drives off evil spirits and brings luck to try to help cheer up the people of Fukushima with, so he asked Miyagi if he could hold a shisa exhibition. Having thought about other ways of supporting the disaster-stuck area besides sending supplies, Miyagi gladly consented to his friend’s request. More than 100 large and small shisa, including many new works, will be displayed at the exhibition. The shisas’ faces look upward, hoping to inspire the people of Fukushima to be positive. Miyagi says, “Okinawa has recovered well since the Battle of Okinawa. It’s really tough for Fukushima now, but things will eventually get better.” The exhibition will run until January 30.

(English translation by T&CT, Megumi Chibana and Mark Ealey)

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