“Mizuha: Ruri Iro Yori Izuru (Coming from Lapis Lazuli)”

“Mizuha: Ruri Iro Yori Izuru (Coming from Lapis Lazuli)”

“Mizuha” is a work that grew from the desire to be with the water deities. It is based on my philosophy that karakami works together with all the gods and spirits in sparking rippling energy, and is a life project that I will continue to work on until the day that I die. I am consumed by this deep blue worldview that I created in my hopes for world peace. I hope that the ripples and waves of happiness that rise from the lapis lazuli color can reach the hearts of many, carried by the sound of Sato Kazuya’s flute.

When I first heard him play, I felt that his shinobue (Japanese bamboo flute) was in perfect harmony with the natural landscape.
And I realized that the flute is not only heard by ear.
It becomes the sound of the wind…
This moved me. 
I had been seeking someone who shared a similar esthetic sense compatible with the way of karakami beauty. I thought he might be such a person, and so our friendship began.

Mt. Ogura
Hearts gather
in the moonlight.
Deer approach,
Drawn to the timbre of the wind.
(Toto Akihiko)
(Refrain) Though the sound of the flute
and the deer in the moonlight
have already left,
my heart is clear, so,
I will commune with the divine.
(Sato Kazuya)
Thirteen nights
out beyond the clouds
on a hazy night
of rustling leaves on the outskirts.
A wind rises.
(Toto Akihiko)
(Refrain) We gather with the rising
of the harvest moon
in the Month of the Gods.
Leave it to the wind to
lead us to the garden.
(Sato Kazuya)

From time to time, we sent each other poems, written in our own styles.

One day, when the COVID-19 pandemic had just begun… 
I’ll never forget listening to Sato Kazuya playing the flute in the morning, upstream by the Oi River in Arashiyama, under the wide-open sky when there was no one around. 
Fresh greenery and birds singing pleasantly… It was beautiful to picture the sound soaring up into the sky with the wind.
It was the time of social distancing and restrictions on going out. Without the outlet of concerts and recitals he had enjoyed in the past, it was such a changed world. He said quietly that he wanted to grasp the happiness that blossomed in abundance in front of him and express it with the sound of his flute, as if he were releasing the words into the flow of the river. 

He was working on a new album and asked me to do the artwork for the jacket design.
When he envisioned something with lapis lazuli colors, he immediately thought of my work. He loves Toto Blue art—it resonates with him—and associates the color blue with Toto Akihiko, so he wanted to incorporate it into the concept of his cover art. It was the beginning of my attempt to create a deep blue world by contemplating his music that turns wind into sound.
I wanted to make everything a shimmering blue, so I mixed various shades and repeatedly layered blue on top of blue. Even the color that looks white actually isn’t white, but has a blue tinge. The process of layering similar colors looks very plain at first glance, as the colors seem to blend together increasingly, but my aim was to create a blue world imbued with a quiet energy. 
While working with the karakami, I prayed that the feelings expressed in the sound of the shinobue flute would have a ripple effect and spread throughout the world.

Quiet, but powerful…

The beauty I aim for is not something strong and powerful, but quiet and powerful.
This is also something important that I always envision when facing karakami and my artwork.
At the center of the work is a blue bead symbolizing the lapis lazuli color. I dyed this bead while listening to the song “Ruri Iro no Hikari (Lapis Lazuli Light)” from Sato Kazuya’s album, and it is the only blue light in this world created from his sound.

When he first saw the artwork born of that collaboration, he sent me the following email: 
“The moment I saw it, a cool breeze blew through my mind, and I experienced a light that seemed to clear away the blemishes from my heart. The piece conveys light, the earth, and the transmigration of souls.”

With this work “Mizuha: Ruri Iro Yori Izuru (Coming from Lapis Lazuli)” in your mind, close your eyes and start listening to his new album O en. Your soul will feel a magnificent “journey of birth, death, and rebirth.”

March 2022
Karakami Artist Toto Akihiko

“Mizuha: Ruri Iro Yori Izuru (Coming from Lapis Lazuli)”