Lafcadio Hearn vs. Mokujiki Shonin: The stories of two nomads

Kamikiri (paper cutting artwork)

by Katsuyuki Yagi

Lafcadio Hearn, also known by his Japanese name Yakumo Koizumi, was a writer known for his books about Japan, particularly his yokai stories about supernatural monsters, spirits and demons in Japanese folklore. Originally born in Greece, he was raised in Dublin, educated in England and France and worked in the United States before moving to Japan in 1890. In addition to his writings, Hearn taught literature at Tokyo and Waseda universities, influencing many well-known Japanese writers at that time.

The other subject of this exhibition is Mokujiki Shonin, a wondering monk and artist who traveled throughout Japan depositing his smiling Buddha sculptures at the sacred sites he visited. During his pilgrimage which took him from the northern part Hokkaido to the southern island of Kyushu Mokujiki Shonin made over a thousand of “Mingei” sculptures, the name that has been given to describe freedom and harshness of nature and innocence of this artwork.

Katsuyuki Yagi was born in Yaizu, Shizuoka in 1947 and began to specialize in paper cutting art while working as a history and literature museum curator. Katsuyuki’s unique artworks are created by cutting authentic Chinese papers with traditional hand made scissors and using a high speed technique. His artworks are highly acclaimed in Lafcadio Hearn’s alma mater in England and Mokujiki Shonin’s birthplace in Yamanashi prefecture.