A symphony playing on three thousand worlds on the theme of a prayer for world peace.
The paths of light that span the entire piece are represented by silver for the moon and gold for the sun. The 22-meter-long piece is the largest karakami artwork in history, with a continuous length of undulating light representing a large dragon. The two lights symbolize the sun and moon, yin and yang, past and present, and Eastern and Western worlds. Two dragon turtles emit the light as they strive to protect world peace while taking the prayers of the people to the heavens, becoming dragons in the sky as they eventually fly to paradise. The blue bead in the middle is a precious and beautiful crystallized prayer from the 22,690 people who put their hands to shifuku printing while working together for world peace.
It is the blue of eternity, an artwork that gives light to the world and the future.
Karakami Artist Toto Akihiko
The unique Toto Akihiko technique of shifuku printing is born of a fusion of Western pointillism and Eastern tarashikomi. Repeating the dyeing process tens or even hundreds of thousands of times creates a profoundly blue world. Consider that it all started on the first day of the Reiwa Era with just a single dot, and from that one small point came a 22-meter universe.
Making the unintentional, intentional.
Tarashikomi makes the most of expression through the bleeding of paint. My ancestors and all the gods and spirits are with me when I work, and that the power of water, which is to say, the dragon god, is with me. That is why unintentional, accidental expressions appear in my tarashikomi. It is good that I cannot completely control it, as the results can sometimes be interesting. For example, while I was working on this piece, several dragons appeared.
The cosmic karakami sparked swirls of energy. As both sea and sky, it gave birth to the karakami that travels back and forth between the present and the future. Usually when I’m working, I need silence or piano, violin, or cello music. However, this time, for some reason, I chose to listen to symphonies by Vivaldi, Bach, or Brahms on repeat. The studio was alive with symphonies at deafening levels until the piece was finished.
While I was dyeing the papers one by one, I divided the 24 different iterations of blue into six parts to make a flow of colors, and in the end those six sections became one magnificent blue world. It was an experiment in harmony, and it made me feel like I was a conductor directing music, coordinating all of the different instruments.
That is why I named the piece “Universal Symphony.”
After I completed the work, I heard from the client who commissioned it:
“This beautiful artwork, which I want to leave to future generations, is a blue I haven’t seen before; it will go beyond karakami and become a world masterpiece.” These comments made me immensely proud.
Symphony of Three Thousand Worlds.
I pray that this artwork, made with everyone together to pray for world peace, becomes the blue of eternity, and I hope sincerely that it will bring light to the world and the future.
1st August 2020
In November of 2020, my karakami artwork “Universal Symphony” was used for the CD jacket of the new album Light of the Sun by world-renowned saxophonist and Grammy Award winner Paul Winter.
Paul Winter, who drew inspiration from my art, spent a number of years working before he produced a song called “Universal Symphony” in May of 2023. He recorded it on his new album Mother Earth, released in Japan. Karakami art was able to cross the ocean and inspire music, creating a collaboration to be commemorated. Tarashikomi makes the most of expression through the bleeding of paint. My ancestors and all the gods and spirits are with me when I work, and that the power of water, which is to say, the dragon god, is with me. That is why unintentional, accidental expressions appear in my tarashikomi. It is good that I cannot completely control it, as the results can sometimes be interesting. For example, while I was working on this piece, several dragons appeared.