Ondrej Hybl was born in 1977 in Czech Republic. He studied Kyogen Ookura style, the traditional Japanese theater, under the influence of Shigeyama Sengorou. In 2000, he started studying at Charles University Graduate School of Philosophy. In 2002, he enrolled in Doshisha University Graduate School of Letters as an exchange student. He began studying Kyogen under Kyogen Master, Shime Shigeyama.
After graduating with a master’s degree from Doshisha University in 2005, he further moved his study and is currently studying for his doctorate at Oosaka University Graduate School of Letters. At EXPO 2005, Mr. Hybl was recognized by the Czech Republic government for his work and contribution as a representative of Czech Republic.
Mr. Hybl, who became fascinated with the Kyogen world which is a quintessential traditional Japanese performing art, became the first Czech Kyogen pupil.
He says that Kyogen requires technique to make people laugh, but that the laughter is not cheap. It is a humor that is kind to people.
Mr Hybyl adds “When people laugh, the boundary between countries disappears. Now that Kyogen is recognized as a world heritage art form, Kyogen has become a valuable asset for people all over the world. Kyogen, which has deep roots in the ancient Japanese world, has the potential to make people in the world rich inside.”
Kazuo Kawasaki was born in 1949, Fukui Prefecture. He is a design director and doctor of medical science. After graduating from Kanazawa College of Arts, he started working at Toshiba where he worked on developing and branding Audio Aurex, a revolutionary new audio system at that time. In 1979, he went freelance and two years later he moved his business base to his home town, Fukui. Since then, he has worked on a wide range of product designs including knives, LCD TVs, eyeglasses and artificial hearts. He has made significant advances in all of these fields.
He was the jury chair for the Japan Good Design Award from 2001 to 2003. He is currently a professor at Communication Design Center and Frontier Research Center at Graduate School of Engineering Osaka University. He is also a professor of Medical Center for Translational Research at Osaka University Hospital.
Mr. Kazuo believes that the designer is a professional that imbues idealism into a physical object. He incorporates many varied fields including mathematics, science, technology and art and builds reality hardheadedly and precisely.
Design is a dream. Here is at least one design director in Japan who earnestly believes that the power of design can change the world.
Masunaga Optical Mfg Co., Ltd is the oldest eyeglass maker in Japan and located in Fukui City, Fukui Prefecture, one of the three biggest eyeglass frame producing districts in the world.
Masunaga Eyeglass was designed by Kazuo Kawasaki who was born and raised locally. The eyewear was awarded Silmo d’Or at the Silmo Eyeglass trade show held at Paris in 2000.
Without using screws and by applying lightweight and flexible beta titanium in its frame, Masunaga eyeglass has achieved a high level of comfort for the wearer. By attaching the lenses to the frames at only one point, it is designed so that the vision is not distorted when the arms are flexed at the temple points. The lenses and the pupils are always equidistant.
Masunaga eyeglass, born from a concept of “smart and high technology”, achieved functionality and nobleness realized by the combination of the Kazuo Kawasaki’s industrial design and Matsunaga’s superb techniques.
'Dragonfly-ball'---do you know this small ball with an unusual name? In short, dragonfly-ball is a glass ball with a colorful pattern; a bead with a hole for string. In Japanese, it is called 'Tombo-dama' and in English 'glass beads'.
The dragonfly-ball has a very long history; it is believed to originate around 3500 years ago in Mesopotamia, the ancient Egypt civilization. Many different dragonfly-balls have been made over the years, attracting many people.
They arrived in Japan in the Edo period from Namban-trade, the trade with Portugal and Spain. The name originated because the surface was decorated with a circle pattern and it looked like the eye of a dragonfly. Since then, for about 400 years, different styles of manufacture or expression have been developed. Now many modern artists are creating beautiful dragonfly-balls.
Hideaki Tokita, born in 1979, Tokyo, is a rising star in the world of “netsuke”. There are said to be less than a hundred netsuke artists left in Japan.
Netsuke, which became popular during Edo period, is a small accessory which serves as a toggle on a crafted box called “inrou”, or money pouch both of which hang from obi sash. Today, there are more netsuke collectors abroad than in Japan. Mr. Hideaki was exposed to netsuke for the first time while studying in New Zeeland which also led him to start learning jade sculpture
He met with Mr. Mick, a sculptor, who later became his teacher. Under Mr. Mick’s guidance, Mr. Tokita started carving and soon attracted attention and praise from world leading netsuke collectors. In 2007, he received a Newcomer Award from Japan Ivory Sculpture Association.
“Time spent observing is the same as time spent learning. Even for a piece of leaf, if you make an effort to learn something, you will be rewarded”.
His work, born from his ethos in which he pushes himself to the edge in order to sharpen and polish his artistic intuition, releases a powerful presence which is unique in the world.
Morihei Ueshiba was the founder of the Japanese martial art of Aikido. He was born in Wakayama Prefecture in 1883. As a boy, he was good at mathematics and physics, and was interested in heroic legends and miraculous stories. Once he worked in a local tax office and later set up a small stationery business while practicing martial arts and swordsmanship.
When he served in Japanese-Russo War, his skill in bayonet was the best in the regiment. After the war, he returned to his hometown and was engaged in farming. Then in 1912, at the age of 29, he and his family moved to Hokkaido as a groundbreaker. He taught farming and learned Aiki Jujutsu there.
After Ueshiba left Hokkaido, he came under the influence of Onisaburo Deguchi, the spiritual leader of the Omoto-kyo religion in Kyoto, and mastered the method of Chinkon Kishin (to settle down and calm the spirit and to return to the divine). He himself moved to Kyoto and founded his own dojo of Ueshiba-juku, where he established a new way of martial art, Aiki Budo, in which mind, body and “ki (inner power)” should be united into one power.
Ueshiba became more and more famous and was extremely busy teaching at the major military and police academies. He also founded a dojo in Tokyo and Aiki-en in Ibaraki Prefecture, where a dojo and Aiki Shrine are located. During all this time he traveled all over Japan and Mannchuria, dedicating himself to instruct his Aiki-Budo, which was renamed to Aikido in 1948. Morihei Ueshiba died in 1969.
With its picturesque quality and its scientific technique, Yuzen dyeing is an art form unique to Japan.
Takahashitoku, an elite dyeing studio in Kyoto, has for 100 years produced Yuzen dyes for the prominent manufacturer, Chiso.
The Takahashitoku studio is trying to preserve and make relevant this traditional art form for modern uses. They dye dresses and jeans for Yoji Yomamoto, one of world’s top contemporary designers. They also collaborated with a celebrated young artist and created scrolls and screens of his compute graphics paintings. For public, they hold classes for to experience hand painted Yuzen for fun.
“Tradition and techniques need to be accepted by people in order to survive’, says Kinya Takahashi, director of the studio. “But then what makes them acceptable? This question is always on my mind.”
Daisetz Suzuki was a great philosopher, who introduced the highly crystallized concept of Zen to the western world. He was born in Ishikawa Prefecture in 1870. While studying at Tokyo University, he took up Zen practice at Engakuji Temple in Kamakura, where he lived a monk’s life. He studied Zen under the Zen monk, Soen, and given the name Daisetsu, meaning “Great Simplicity.”
Suzuki intended to introduce Zen to the West, acting as a bridge between East and West. What he wanted was the unity of East and West, for which he accomplished a great feat of translating Zen texts into English. Suzuki wrote a translation of “the The Tao Te Ching,” a Chinese classic text, and then “the Daijo Kishinron (the Awakening of Mahayana Faith).” In 1907, Suzuki published his first original book in English, “the Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism.” His had a great influence on intellectual persons in the western world. During the ear of the counterculture in the 1960s and 1970s, the world of Zen, which was introduced by Suzuki, inspired adoration for Oriental world among the westerners.
Suzuki kept practicing Zen over a lifetime, and thought and talked of deep-rooted social problems including races, religions and racial disputes through the quest for the spirit of Zen.