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Aichi printing company publishes calendar produced by man with no arms

Chunichi Shimbun

A printing company has produced a calendar bearing kanji characters written by a staffer who has no arms.

Hiroshi Tsuzuki, 35, of Tokoname, Aichi Prefecture, was born with the condition. He uses his toes to write.

“I want to remove prejudice against people with disabilities,” said Tsuzuki, an employee of Chuden Wing Co.

He grips a pen between the big and second toes on his right foot, stabilizing his hold with the third toe.

Guiding the pen carefully, he wrote the character rin (cold) on a piece of paper.

“It’s like holding a pair of chopsticks,” he said nonchalantly.

When he was young, Tsuzuki used his toes to pick up toys and wielded crayons so adeptly he was able to draw dinosaurs like any other child, drawing praise from family and friends.

The memory of this makes him laugh: “When I think about it now, they were probably complimenting my ability to draw using my toes, but at the time I thought it was because I had artistic talent.”

Determined to find a job related to art, he studied computer graphics at a technical college. He joined the printing department of Chuden Wing Co., a subsidiary of Chubu Electric Power Co., Inc., a company that proactively recruits people with disabilities.

Using his feet to type on a computer keyboard, he would design flyers and pamphlets for customers.

At elementary school, Tsuzuki was unable to follow the penmanship samples that students are expected to copy.

Someone from the company came up with the idea of creating and selling Chuden Wing merchandise, so he started designing a calendar featuring kanji he had written.

He selected a character with a strong meaning for each page and used computer graphics later to add colors.

For the 2016 calendar, he chose the word ima (now) for January and February and ketsu (determination) for March and April.

His calendars from 2012 to 2015 sold 6,000 copies in total.

In October 2012, Tsuzuki won the gold medal in the National Abilympics, a vocational skills contest in Nagano for people with disabilities, under the category of designing flyers by computer.

Next March, he will take part in the International Abilympics in Bordeaux, France, an event held roughly once every four years. As a result of his activities, he is often invited to lecture elementary and junior high schools as part of their human rights education.

“I may not have arms, but I can write. I am no different to other people,” he said as he demonstrated his writing skills to the young students.

“Don’t think you know something just because you have heard it from someone else. You should see things with your own eyes and learn to distinguish the truth,” he said.

In total, 1,000 copies of the A4-size 2016 calendar designed by Tsuzuki are available for sale at ¥600 each, including shipping fees.

To order, please contact Chuden Wing at 052-819-0623. This section, appearing Tuesdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published on Dec. 15.