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One Hundred Character Poem – Life is Beautiful

Neigetsu is a Japanese Calligraphic Designer and Artist, born in Tokyo, Japan in 1982. She began learning Japanese calligraphy at the age of 6. Neigetsu received a Bachelor of Education from the University of Tokyo. She attained the rank of Shihan in 2008, certifying her as an instructor of Japanese calligraphy. Her artwork goes beyond creations of Japanese modern design and art. As a teacher, she creates curriculum content to increase creativity in her students.

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Neigetsu’s second solo exhibition will be held from February 24th to March 31st at a stylish cafe located in the Shibuya district of Tokyo. She writes, “For this exhibition, I created and wrote a “One Hundred Character Poem” with advice from a Chinese friend. You might know the “Thousand Character Poem Classic”, the very old famous Chinese poem which all students of calligraphy must learn when they begin their studies. The “One Hundred Character Poem” was created by extracting the essence of Asian ideas from the “Thousand Character Poem Classic”. At the same time, I added the feelings of our generation using only one hundred Chinese characters, each one different than the rest.

The title of this exhibition is “A One Hundred Character Poem – Life is Beautiful”, an original poem brushed in Japanese calligraphy. The artwork was composed and written by me.

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“A One Hundred Character Poem” is very simple. It consists of one hundred Chinese characters, each one different. The idea of creating this poem was conceived two years ago by me when I read a book about “The Thousand Character Poem Classic ” at a coffee shop near my home.

“The Thousand Character Poem Classic” was said to be composed in the 6th century in China and has widely spread not only to other parts of Asia but also to Western Countries as a textbook for those learning Chinese characters. “A One Hundred Character Poem” presents knowledge of Asian ideas such as Confucianism and Buddhism alongside the feelings of people living in the 21st century. Special thanks to my friend who was born and raised in China for her help. It is hoped that you will enjoy this calligraphy exhibition and feel personal “happiness” while seeing these one hundred characters.”

Below is a translation in Japanese and in English of the poem you will see in calligraphy.

第一段落:The First Paragraph

天高雲翔天高く 雲翔ぶ
(てんたかく くもとぶ)
Heaven is high, clouds floating.
地広水長地は広く 水は長しへに
(ちはひろく みずはとこしへに)
Earth is grand, water flows forever.
日出東海日は東海に出で
(ひはとうかいにいで)
Sun rises over the east sea.
月落西山月は西の山に落つ
(つきはせいざんにおつ)
Moon goes down to the west mountains.
鳥語花香鳥は語り 花は香しい
(とりはかたり はなはかんばしい)
Birds are singing as flowers smell sweet.

第二段落:The Second Paragraph

慈母情深慈しむ母 情深し
(いつくしむはは じょうふかし)
The love of tender mothers is deep like ocean.
楽育学歩楽しく育ち 学は歩む
(たのしくそだち がくはあゆむ)
Children grow up happily, learning as they walk.
探遊外界外界を探遊す
(がいかいをたんゆうす)
Play and search the outside world.
交友読書友と交わり 書を読む
(ともとまじわり しょをよむ)
Build friendship while they read books together.
笑談未来笑いて未来を談ず
(わらいてみらいをだんず)
Always laughing by talking about the future.

第三段落:The Third Paragraph

恋愛成家恋愛して家を成し
(れんあいして いえをなし)
Young loves change up to the family.
春耕冬蔵春に耕し 冬に蔵む
(はるにたがやし ふゆにおさむ)
Cultivate in spring, store crops in winter.
夫妻好合夫妻好合
(ふさいこうごう)
Husband and wife care each other.
子孫有望子孫に望みあり
(しそんにのぞみあり)
Give hopes to their descendant.
感謝平常平常に感謝す
(へいじょうにかんしゃす)
Say “thank you” to every peaceful day.

第四段落:The Forth Paragraph

世間万物世間万物
(せけんばんぶつ)
Everything in the world,
古今終始古今終始
(ここんしゅうし)
Has its start and the end in any era.
悲喜輪転悲喜輪転
(ひきりんてん)
Joy and sorrow round and repeat.
逝者如斯逝く者斯くの如し
(ゆくものかくのごとし)
People pass away in the same way.
時不我待時は我を待たず
(ときはわれをまたず)
Time goes by without waiting for me.

第五段落:The Fifth Paragraph

幸福何在幸福は何処に在りや
(こうふくはいずこにありや)
Where and what is the “happiness”?
畏敬自然自然を畏敬し
(しぜんをいけいし)
If we respect the nature,
健康食眠健康なる食眠すれば
(けんこうなるしょくみんすれば)
Eat well, sleep well,
風光無限風光は無限にして
(ふうこうはむげんにして)
Wind and light has the infinite power.
生命美也生命は美也
(生命は美なり)
The life is nothing but beautiful.

All artwork was produced by Neigetsu and she would like to give special thanks to Tian Shan, who was born and raised in China for her help. “One Hundred Character Poem” was
composed by Tian Shan and Neigetsu calligraphed by Neigetsu.

It is hoped that you will enjoy this calligraphy exhibition and feel personal “happiness” while seeing these one hundred characters. Please come to see my presentation of very large works on the wall of the cafe uzna omom b one

Venue: uzna omom b one cafe at Belcourt Fuyo B1
5-17-8, Jingu-mae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo (地図)
03-6427-2779
Please note that the cafe is closed Mondays and the first Tuesday of the month.

Posted in

Rona Conti

Rona Conti is a painter and calligrapher whose artwork is represented in numerous public, private and corporate collections and museums in the United States and internationally. English editor for Beyond Calligraphy, in 1999, she began studying Japanese calligraphy with (Mieko) Kobayashi Sensei of Gunma from whom she received her pen name (魂手恵奈). Invited to exhibit calligraphy at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art with the International Association of Calligraphers for the last five years, she received the “Work of Excellence" Prize three times. She was invited to demonstrate Japanese Calligraphy at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 2009. Her handmade paper artwork is produced in New York City at Dieu Donne Papermill.

11 Comments

  1. Meredith McPherson on 23/02/2016 at 11:13

    Very creative approach to the Thousand Word Classic – I enjoyed this much! Thanks, Rona, for sharing Neigetsu’s inspired interpretation!

    • Neigetsu on 27/02/2016 at 16:00

      Thank you for your comment. I am glad to know you enjoyed my work so much. I love Thousand Character Poem Classic and hope I could convey its thoughts to more people in the world by creating this modern poem. Thank you.

  2. Yoshio Kusaba 草場 良夫 on 23/02/2016 at 11:43

    Rona Conti-san: Thank you for sharing this very useful set of four character phrases. I am so glad that you were able to set the four character phrases side by side their readings in Japanese and meanings in English.

    Incidentally, the first one in the fourth category can also have the following expression:
    世間万物 世間万物(せけんばんぶつ) Everything in the world. Another phrase with the similar meaning, 有象無象 [ウゾウムゾウ] この世の中にある有形無形のすべてのもの.

    Yoshio Kusaba

    • Neigetsu on 27/02/2016 at 16:09

      Kusaba-san, Thank you for your comment. I got impressed by your knowledge for Chinese words and poems. In this “One Hundred Character Poems”, we chose one hundred characters each different than the rest. “有象無象” is the same meaning but we can not use it in this poem for that reason. This kind of discussion is really interesting. Thank you so much.

  3. sumiDreamer on 23/02/2016 at 12:07

    This work is so ethereal and breathtaking. I loved going over and visiting her beautiful website, too.

    I hope you follow up with even more pictures, particularly of the exhibition.

    This article is so inspiring!

    • Neigetsu on 27/02/2016 at 16:12

      I was really pleased to find your comment. Thank you for visiting my website, too. My exhibition has started since this Wednesday. I will share the photos and the movie sometime in the near future. I would appreciate if you checked them.

  4. afan on 28/02/2016 at 18:37

    ..simply beyond calligraphy, and simply beyond beautiful as well! thank you so much for such a very lovely post..

    • Neigetsu on 13/03/2016 at 18:54

      Your words impressed me so much. I am pleased if many people feel something beyond calligraphy and beyond beautiful from this artwork. I am planning to post much more photos and so on. I appreciate if you look forward to seeing them.

  5. Judy Song on 07/03/2016 at 01:11

    Lovely, I liked it, thanks Neigetsu. I could learnt Japanese through the thousand word classic.
    — Judy Song (Finland )

    • Neigetsu on 17/03/2016 at 08:43

      Thank you so much, Judy. I am pleased to know you learnt Japanese through the thousand word classic. I hope many people will love this classic in the future too. It was one reason why I decided to make One Hundred version.

  6. Ken Nguyen on 22/03/2016 at 06:24

    Negutsu san,
    I’d like so much to visit your exhibition, too bad I’ve been in Tokyo last year in April and I was looking unsuccessfully for calligraphy exhibition. I just found small one in Kyoto.
    I start to learn calligraphy for one year in Paris and the first model my French sensei gave is The Thousand Characters Poem written by Chinese Master Yu Yu Ren. I still go on and have happiness to do that.
    Reading your new poem, seem to hear teachings of Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh about happiness and mindfulness …

    Good luck and have good time for your exhibition.

    Ken Nguyen (Paris)

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