Hong Kong Sweet Home
There is a Japanese proverb that means “any place you are used to living in is called ‘paradise’”. The following two Japanese came to Hong Kong to make their home here. One of them has been around for four years, the other forty odd years. They have both found their “paradise” here.
Now in his seventies, Issei Shinagawa has lived in Hong Kong for forty odd years. Three years ago, he retired and found that what he knew about Hong Kong had grown more than what he knew about Japan, so he decided to stay. He moved to Peng Chau, an outlying island, for farming, beginning a life of semi-seclusion.
Because of his character, Shinagawa accepts anything that comes along with ease; this can be reflected on his farming lot. Shinagawa follows the principles of “natural farming”, which means that after he has prepared the soil, he will let the crops grow on their own, and what he does is only irrigating them and “chatting” with them, and he eats whatever he harvests. A few years ago, some birds dropped on his agricultural lot a few mulberry seeds, and now the seeds have grown into two big trees, almost without being noticed. Shinagawa, who acts on impulse often, started to research into the mulberry tree and its leaves. Recently, he has even started to make cookies out of these materials and treated his friends to them.
To Shinagawa, life is like coming across the birds, the seeds and the farming lot by chance. It was employment that took him to Hong Kong, where he has made his home and grown up. It has been a long and busy process.
Before Naoko came to Hong Kong, she had never imagined herself to have a painting career, let alone a career to paint on themes about the streets of Hong Kong!
Naoko grew up in Tokyo and studied art in university. After graduation, however, her first job was working as a clerk in a corporation. Ten years ago, she married a Hongkonger and moved here. In the beginning, she had problem adapting to the life in Hong Kong, and she also had problems with finding a job. When she wandered along the wide and narrow streets in Hong Kong, the new environment gave her so many stimulations and inspirations that she picked up her brushes again. She started to paint what came in her sight.
In a few years’ time, Naoko’s works began to show original style. Nowadays she organises small-scale exhibitions in big and small coffee shops in Hong Kong and Tokyo; on top of that, she teaches painting classes for adults as well as for school children. In Hong Kong, she teaches a wide spectrum of subjects, from street views to still interior objects, and from odd people to funny cats. The really odd thing is that whenever she goes back to Tokyo to teach classes, the students there wish to learn to paint… the streets of Hong Kong!
Whenever she returns to her native home in Tokyo, Naoko always manages to discover certain views she has not seen before, and some details she has never noticed. According to Naoko, “when one has lived in a place for a time too long, it’s easy to overlook a lot of beautiful things around”.
To Naoko, life is about strolling around, and finding beauty among details.