The process of making papercutting





The encounter of a Japanese painting at an exhibition motivated me to create “Okuni Sanza”. It was a woman wearing masculine clothes with a large sword in her hand, a rosary around her neck, and casting a gaze with a strong will. Wondering who she was, I learned that she was Izumo no Okuni, the founder of Kabuki, from the title of the piece, which inspired my interest.


While reading materials, I was increasingly attracted to her life. I went deeply into the world of energetic pictures drawn at that time, such as picture books or folding screens of Okuni Kabuki and Yujo Kabuki, feeling the passion of people. Furthermore, the composition of the Virgin Mary and angels in Christian paintings came up to mind from the possessions such as a sword and a crystal necklace, and the content of a dance, of Nagoya Sanza, a kabuki performer who is said to be the legendary lover of Okuni. From here, the images of the East and the West became connected together, which enabled me develop the idea of my work. I engraved my picture with lines of Okuni and Sanze as the core of the subject, using the technique called “Ashide” of Japanese paintings. The patterns and crests of the kimono were based on pictures of the time.*1


In this manner, while linking images with materials, I constitute meticulously a view of the world. For these reasons, it takes more time to make a concept than to cut.




「阿国山三(おくにさんざ)」を描いたのは、ある展覧会で日本画の作品を観たことがきっかけでした。 大太刀を手にした男勝りの格好に、首にはロザリオ、強い意思のあるまなざし。いったい何者なのだろうと吸い寄せられ、タイトルから歌舞伎の創始者・出雲の阿国であると知り、関心を持ちます。


資料を読み、その生涯に惹かれていきます。当時描かれた、阿国歌舞伎や遊女歌舞伎の絵草子や屏風のエネルギッシュな画面。絵の世界に深く入り込み、人々の熱気を感じ取ります。 さらに、阿国の伝説の恋人といわれる歌舞伎者・名古屋山三(なごやさんざ)の、太刀や水晶のネックレスといった持物、踊りの内容から、キリスト教絵画の聖母マリアと天使の構図が頭に浮かび上がってきました。 ここから東洋と西洋のイメージがつながり、絵の構想が膨らんでいきます。





2.Determination of positive and negative spaces


I decide on the main parts where to cut or to leave while drawing a rough design. The details are determined accordingly. Before I cut, I make a decision about the location of almost all positive and negative spaces.


Once the rough sketch is completed, it is time to trace. On the back of a black paper, I trace a design printed in reverse with a white transfer paper. In this process, the lines of the vague sketch become clear, which allows me to know the time required for cutting.*2






下絵が完成したらトレースです。 黒い紙(色上質薄口)の裏側に、左右反転出力した下絵を白の転写紙でトレースします。 この過程で、あいまいだった下絵のラインがはっきり決まり、切る時間がどれくらいかかるか見当がつきます。*2




A comfortable texture of thickness of paper is a characteristic of papercutting with a flat surface. I use a knife smoothly to make every single line pleasant and alive, not to mention to make the whole picture beautiful.


I work on the details first, and then I cut out large parts and easily fluffed parts of cross-section little by little. For the area I want to leave independently such as the eyes and nose, I create “connecting parts” with the contour of the face. After pasting the piece on the paper, I cut off the “connecting parts”. This technique enables me to put the parts in the right position.








4.Adding red


Basically I express my work in two colors, black and white but I also like to add red for emphasis. I cut a red paper and paste it on the back of a black paper. By the addition of red, a monotone expression stands out more.

The work is completed by applying some glue to the back of the paper I cut and fixing it to a mount.








sika-douji (550x386)


Collecting seeds of images


Ideas of creation can be found at various places. I value what moves my heart or what makes my body and hands pleasant. Whenever I encounter something that touches me such as music, dance, people’s expressions I see at a festival, the view from the mountain I climb, the feel of straw sandals and casual conversations, I make a note of them. They are the important seeds of images to take out and grow when needed, even if I don’t embody them in my work right away.


“Deer in Ohara” is the work I produced right after moving to Ohara in Kyoto  and hearing from a neighbor that deer often appeared there. Wakasa-kaido Road, where my former atelier was located, is known as the old road connecting the Sea of Japan to Kyoto. I built up some images of a scene in my mind: deer living here today must be the offspring of deer that have lived in this area for hundreds of years, and the then deer may have crossed the Wakasa-kaido, while a young boy, who went on an errand to a nearby temple, may have also walked there. These images led to the creation of this papercutting.


Sometime I have a clear picture of scene from the beginning, and sometimes I get to know the shape as I move my hand.




制作のアイデアはいろいろなところにあります。何に心が反応するか、体や手が喜ぶかということを大切にしています。音楽やダンス、祭りで見た人々の表情、山に登って見た景色、わらじの感触、何気ない会話・・・ 心が動くものに出会うと、メモにストックしておきます。すぐに作品にしなくても、必要な時がくれば取り出して育てることができる、大切なイメージの種です。


「大原の鹿」は、京都大原に越してすぐ、鹿がよく現れると近所の方に聞き、作品にしました。 以前の工房があった若狭街道は、日本海と京都をつなぐ道として古くから知られています。 今ここに住む鹿たちは、きっと何百年も昔から、このあたりで暮らしてきた鹿の子孫。 その昔の鹿も、若狭街道を横切ったかもしれない・・・そのとき、近くのお寺にお使いに来たお稚児さんが歩いていたかもしれない・・・そんな想像が膨らんで、この切り絵ができました。






The theme of this work is a poem by Riga, poet of the Tang dynasty of China, beginning with “The pearl sprite has landed from the castle in the blue sky.” The first thing came to mind was an image of a pearl sprite holding a large pearl and celestial nymphs performing music lightly. When I finished to draw the girl having a pearl, she seemed to sit on something , but I didn’t know what it was. As I drew lines moving my hand, the shape of a turtle appeared, which made me perceive that the stage of this picture was in the sea, and gave birth to a new concept of plankton as food for jellyfish and pearl oysters.

After finishing the sketch and starting cutting, I was surprised to learn that the motifs were connected to each other, as if they sprang up, creating a composition that represented like the cycle of life.


Although I don’t know what I am producing now, pursing a beautiful picture, I realize that some meanings emerge and then a story comes into being. It is the best part of my work to touch this wonder of creation and depth.


この作品のテーマは中国、唐の詩人李賀(りが)の「真珠小娘青廓より下り(しんじゅしょうじょうせいかくよりくだり)」ではじまる詩です。 最初に、大きな珠を抱く真珠の精霊の姿と、軽やかな音楽を奏でる天女のイメージが浮かびました。 丸い珠を抱えた少女を描くと、何かの上に座っているようですが、それが何かはわかりません。 手の動くまま線を引くうちに亀の姿が現れ、そこからこれは海の中だと気がつき、クラゲや真珠貝の餌となるプランクトンの構想が生まれました。




tomoe-trace2 (500x390)のコピーpro2