Coronavirus (COVID-19) Advisory Information

Finding Inspiration In Calligraphy - Mitsuo Aida Museum

Finding Inspiration In Calligraphy - Mitsuo Aida Museum

Translated by Ramona Taranu

Written by Ramona Taranu

Tokyo 2016.08.06 Bookmark

Located within the Tokyo International Forum, Mitsuo Aida Museum is a facility where visitors can spend a quiet time, contemplating the calligraphy works of contemporary poet and artist Mitsuo Aida,

Appealing first of all visually, Japanese writing exerts a powerful fascination, which is only enhanced by the thought that each sign carries meaning codified in its shape. Moreover, when written by hand beautifully, with care, the signs mirror their author's personality and are brought to life by it. This is why writing and the act of appreciating the quality of the ink strokes have developed into an art in itself - shodō, Japanese calligrahy, which has been practiced since ancient times.

The Mitsuo Aida Museum is a place where one can contemplate calligraphy and feel inspired by the beauty of the signs that seem to be alive, dancing upon the surface of the paper.

About Mitsuo Aida Museum


From the exhibition "Meeting Oneself" (until September 2016)

The Mitsuo Aida Museum hosts the works of poet and calligrapher Mitsuo Aida. Born in 1924 in Ashikaga, Tochigi prefecture, Mitsuo Aida has developed a passion for tanka poetry (*1) and shodō while in middle high shool. He met the Zen monk who was to become his life-long mentor when he was 18. It is from that period in his youth when his poetry and calligraphy began to be influenced by Zen philosophy (*2). His works, reaching people's hearts through a straight, vigurous message, have gained the admiration of many fans.

(*1) Tanka… A poetry style with fixed form (31 syllables) that has been practiced in Japan since ancient times. The subject of tanka poems are nature and human feelings. 
(*2) Zen… A Buddhist sect whose main feature is its emphasis on ascetic practices that lead to realizing the Buddha nature within all beings. 


The Mitsuo Aida Museum has been established in 1996, five years after the death of the artist. The museum, currently located within the Tokyo International Forum will celebrate 20 years since its opening in September 2016.

The exhibition marking the anniversary, titled "Meeting Oneself", has began in June and will continue until September 11th, 2016. It is an exhibition centered on the main themes pursued by Mitsuo Aida in his works - "writing", "words", "oneself". We will introduce the appeal of this unique museum with a focus on the artist's works.

The Poetry and Calligraphy of Mitsuo Aida


In his works of calligraphy, Aida avoids complex characters, using instead mainly simple signs that even children can read. The work pictured above - reading Yume wa dekkaku ne wa fukaku, which means "Big dreams, deep roots" - is perfectly exemplifying his style of conveying powerful, fundamental messages using simple words.

All the works exhibited have English translations, so please rest assured that you will be able to enjoy both the beauty of the calligraphy works and the meaning of the poems.


In a work such as "Now -ssthe most important thing" the viewer can feel the straightforwardness typical to Zen. This work has been created using the batik printing method, which the artist liked very much. The cloth is dyed after creating the design in wax, thus isolating the patterns from being dyed.


In each exhibition hall the visitors can enjoy Mitsuo Aida's works in a relaxing atmosphere.


In the corridor linking the halls, there is a place where you can enjoy writing with a calligraphy brush. If you are studying Japanese language, try writing your favorite character! You will soon understand and feel the fascination of calligraphy.

The Features of the Facility


After seeing the exhibitions, you can rest for a while in the charming café of the museum. You can enjoy here a peaceful moment meditating upon the meaning of Aida's poems and writings.


Near the café there is a corner dedicated to a series of works born out of the collaboration between Mitsuo Aida's calligraphy and Hello Kitty. It is a display that will let you feel the poet's humor and playfulness, qualities that he kept dear in his work.


In the museum shop, visitors can find Mitsuo Aida's books, as well as souvenirs decorated with his calligraphy.


The broad, elegant space inside the Tokyo International Forum, where the museum is located, is also very impressive. When visiting, take a moment to enjoy the atmosphere of this place found right in the heart of the metropolis.

In Conclusion

Did we spark your interest in Mitsuo Aida's worldview, expressed in his calligraphy works?

Just like ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, Mitsuo Aida's calligraphy can be enjoyed both as visual art and as text. We warmly invite you to spend some time surrounded by this artist's works, and feel the strength of each letter, of each word found in the works on display.

Recommended articles


TOKYO Travel Guide

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

Related topics