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Mitsuo Aida – Calligrapher & Poet

Mitsuo Aida (1924-1991) was a traditional Japanese brush-and-ink calligrapher and poet who became well know for the simple and insightful way that he wrote about the challenges, pitfalls and joys that are part of daily life.   His artful presentation of his writings utilizing the calligraphy skills that he learned as a young man are on display to great effect at the Mitsuo Aida Museum in Tokyo.

The museum bills itself and “A place to spend two hours of your life” and encompasses five exhibition rooms, a store and a relaxation or meditative space where you are free to pause and reflect on the exhibit and the words of Mitsuo Aida.

“You see, it doesn’t matterhow slow you arethe important thing isto always look aheadand walk your own pathwith your own steps.”

Mitsuo Aida, 1959

The exhibits in the museum are written in Japanese script but an English translation is provided for many of the works.  The space is open and contemplative and is an enjoyable place to spend “two hours of your life”, although it needn’t take that long, if you are short on time.

Three of Mitsuo Aida’s books have been translated into English by Timothy Grant Jensen and are available in the museum’s store.   THE HEAR AND NOW, The Art, Ideas and Poetry of Mitsuo Aida in 1996, A phrase by my side in 2000 and Talking too… which appears to be out of print.  In the words of Jensen, “Mitsuo Aida didn’t write about culture or history. He wrote about feelings, situations and emotions that are relevant to all human beings on this planet. I find that every time I read his poetry, I learn something new about myself and I truly believe that anyone who has the chance to read his work will walk away with a deeper understanding of themselves and the everyday situations they find themselves in.”

Some of the Mitsuo Aida Museum collection can be found online (without translation) or with translation at Calligrapher, Poet of Zen.


Website: Mitsuo Aida Museum
Hours: 10AM – 5:30PM, Closed on Mondays, except when Monday is a National Holiday;.
Admission: Adults Y800, High School Students and those over 70 Y500, Elementary School Students Y200 and free for younger children and the disabled with an escort.
Location: Tokyo International Forum, Floor B1 – a three minute walk from Yurakucho Station [Exit International Forum] or a five minute walk from Tokyo Station [Exit Marunouchi South] connected by B1 concourse with Keiyo Line at Tokyo Station [Exit 4]

Image Credit: Personal Collection