A Japanese artist has attained his goal of painting murals in 10 countries to spread a message of peace, completing the last one on his home soil to complete the three-year quest.
Shinichiro Higashi finished a painting of a pigeon holding a white daisy in its mouth on the wall of a hospital in Okinawa on May 15, the 45th anniversary of the prefecture’s reversion to Japan after 27 years under U.S. control following World War II.
Higashi, 47, embarked on the project in Egypt in 2014 and continued on to India, Australia, South Korea, Ukraine, Bulgaria, the Philippines, the United States and Mexico to draw murals promoting peace.
When he visited the Middle East in 2014, Higashi came to understand the misery of war by talking with Palestinian refugees and other residents, and decided to make pigeons and doves the motif for the murals.
His final painting was completed at Hakuai Hospital, on a hill in the Okinawan town of Haebaru.
Elsewhere he had difficulties in finding space to draw murals, but for the last work, Yuzuru Nakamoto, the 37-year-old deputy head of the hospital, offered help. Nakamoto was a student of Higashi’s when the latter was an art teacher at a junior high school in nearby Kagoshima Prefecture.
The Okinawa painting is about 9 meters high and 7 meters wide and can be seen from nearby roads and houses.
Higashi completed the work jointly with his 35-year-old wife, Kaori, in four days, despite being exposed to rain.
Nakamoto said that Okinawa, a gruesome battlefield during the war, has issued various messages about the importance of peace. “I hope the mural here can reach people in the world as a new message,” he said.
Having achieved his immediate goal, Higashi, hailing from Makurazaki in Kagoshima, has set his eye on visiting Spain to draw an 11th mural, hoping that “a chain of desire for peace will sever the negative chain of hatred one day.”
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