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BIRTHDAY EXHIBITION

Celebrating philanthropic achievements at art showcase

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Haruhisa Handa, who wears many hats as a calligrapher, painter, singer, noh performer, entrepreneur and philanthropist, held an opening ceremony for a solo exhibition of his paintings and sho (Japanese artistic calligraphy) works in Tokyo on March 18.

The exhibition, which mostly featured works by Handa and ran through March 24, displayed 187 artistic works, including 48 of Handa’s latest works and 138 of his past pieces, as well as a piece by Rolling Stones’ guitarist Ronnie Wood.

Prominent guests, including many well-known politicians, congratulated Handa, also known as Toshu Fukami, on the opening of the exhibition at the Izumi Garden Gallery in Tokyo’s Minato Ward and his 68th birthday. The exhibition was titled “Toshu Fukami’s 19th Birthday Sho Calligraphy and Paintings Exhibition.”

The first guest speaker was former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey, who held the position from 1991 to 2002.

“It’s a very great pleasure to be here,” Carey said to hundreds of attendees waiting to see the exhibition. He praised Handa for his philanthropic activities, including building hospitals and a school in Battambang, Cambodia, via the nonreligious, nonpolitical and nonprofit Handa Foundation.

Former Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny was the second speaker to celebrate Handa, saying, “It’s my privilege to be here.” Former Irish Ambassador to Japan Brendan Scannell followed Kenny, calling Handa “a great influence to all of us.”

Chief Executive Charlie Mayhew of the Tusk wildlife conservation organization was the fourth speaker and read aloud a letter from Tusk’s Royal Patron, His Royal Highness Prince William, who thanked Handa for his “extremely generous support” of Tusk.

Handa and Tusk, among others, collaborated to simultaneously kick off the “Time for Change” movement, which aims to conserve wildlife, in Tokyo, London and Johannesburg in September 2016.

A video message from Wood was also aired at the ceremony as he is a Tusk supporter. His work, “Spike,” a painted rhinoceros statue, was included in the exhibition.

Shizuka Kamei and Masahiko Komura, both of whom have held several ministerial posts, also expressed their congratulations to Handa. Other politicians in attendance included former Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Hakubun Shimomura, as well as some Lower House members such as Katsuei Hirasawa, Kazuhiro Haraguchi and Banri Kaieda.

Handa, who is also an adviser to the Modern Japanese Calligraphers Association, chairman of the International Calligraphy Research Institute and author of several books on calligraphy, then performed a tea ceremony and served tea to Carey and others.

“Many Japanese arts are derived from the chadō tea ceremony,” Handa said. At the end of the ceremony, he and several guests cut the ribbon to open the exhibition.

Handa has been involved in the arts for nearly his entire life and has always sought out new challenges. He took up sho calligraphy in high school, began performing noh in college, started painting at age 35 and began playing music at 40.

He is the chairman of the International Foundation for Arts and Culture (IFAC), which has held international concerts in Tokyo featuring famous singers and musicians such as David Foster, former Chicago vocalist Peter Cetera and many others, including Grammy Award winners. The IFAC also holds the annual International High School Arts Festival, in which the foundation awards art created by Japanese and foreign high school students in the spirit of nurturing tomorrow’s artists.

On the philanthropic front, Handa is the chairman of Worldwide Support for Development (WSD), which holds a variety of summit meetings on world welfare. In March last year, WSD held the fourth Global Opinion Leaders Summit, at which former U.S. President Barack Obama spoke about denuclearization and world peace, in Tokyo. WSD is also engaged in AIDS eradication activities in Lesotho and supports orphanages and carries out other philanthropic activities in developing countries.

Additionally, Handa is the chairman of the Tokyo Art Foundation, which organizes various concerts and plays, and the International Sports Promotion Society, which promotes world peace via sports.