Follow Us




Views Shodō: The Art of Calligraphy
A Room of Her Own: Kanazawa Shōko (Video)
Master Calligrapher with Down Syndrome

A video look at the daily life of calligrapher Kanazawa Shōko, who has moved out of the family home and now lives by herself in a residential section of Tokyo.

Kanazawa Shōko

Kanazawa ShōkoShoka (calligraphy artist), also known professionally as Shōran. Born in Tokyo in 1985. Began studying calligraphy with her mother, who is also a calligrapher, at age 5 and held her first solo exhibition, “The World of Calligraphy,” in 2005. Has since exhibited her works at such renowned temples throughout Japan as Kenchōji in Kamakura, Kenninji in Kyoto, and Tōdaiji in Nara. Held her first overseas show in 2015 in New York and had solo exhibitions in the Czech cities of Plzeň and Prague later that year. Is the co-author, with her mother, of several books, including Tamashii no sho (Calligraphy of the Soul) and Umi no uta, yama no koe (Songs of the Sea, Voices of the Mountain).

When Kanazawa Shōko moved into her own small apartment in 2015 at the age of 30, her mother Yasuko thought that she would return to the family home within a week. The talented calligrapher has Down syndrome, and living by herself was a big step. But with the support of her neighbors, she is enjoying her new independence.

Shōko does her own cooking, washing, and cleaning. She enjoys practicing dancing to videos on her computer or iPad. The freedom to eat as she pleases, though, appears to have caused her to gain weight.

A five-minute walk away is the family home, where she focuses on her calligraphy. With the encouragement and guidance of her mother, she is now making preparations for a September exhibition at Ueno Royal Museum. We filmed a slice of her life in Tokyo.

Production and copyright:
Direction: Sugiyama Sachiko
Filming: Yoshida Hideo
Technical support: Nakata Ryōhei
Video editing: Mochizuki Hirofumi
Sound editing: Tanaka Keiko

(Originally published in Japanese on April 21, 2017. Banner photo: Shōko’s three vows, taped to a wall, are to keep her apartment clean, not to stay up too late, and to lose weight. Photograph by Nagasaka Yoshiki.)

  • [2017.05.26]
Related articles
Other articles in this report
  • A Life of Prayer: Kanazawa Shōko (Video)Kanazawa Shōko is a woman with Down syndrome. She is also an acclaimed calligraphy artist and held a major solo exhibition at the Ueno Royal Museum from September 23 to 30. Her works have been shown at over 280 locations since her professional debut 12 years ago at age 20, and they have attracted over a million visitors.
  • At Home With Calligrapher Kanazawa Shōko: Down Syndrome and IndependenceKanazawa Shōko is an acclaimed calligraphy artist with Down syndrome. At the age of 30 she moved into an apartment to live alone—another feat that most people would consider impossible for someone with her disability. We take a peek at her daily life in a residential district of Tokyo.
  • Strokes of Purity: Kanazawa Shōko (Video)Renowned calligrapher Kanazawa Shōko visited the office in Tokyo in autumn 2016 to write the character 光 (hikari, light).
  • Kanazawa Shōko: Woman with Down Syndrome Becomes Top CalligrapherKanazawa Shōko was born with Down syndrome but is today one of Japan’s most acclaimed calligraphy artists. The love and warmth with which she was raised have helped to turn the tears of her childhood into the applause and adulation of fans worldwide.

Related articles

Video highlights

New series

  • From our columnists
  • In the news