October 6, 2020

Etegami in Praise of Fall by Sachiko Hanashiro

The fall is in the air! The turning of the season captivates people by its beauty and melancholy.

What is Etegami?

Etegami is poetry in the form of art. It is a colorful folk art consisting of simple hand-painted drawing and a few thoughtful words, typically drawn on postcards to be shared by mail. The name comes from the Japanese word for "picture letter."

Sachiko Hanashiro, a renowned Etegami artist of Japan, created arts capturing the fleeting moments of the season, and through them, expressed nature and reality about life.

Last month, we introduced a story about the 300 Etegami she exchanged during the three months of self-isolation.

This month, we are sharing some of Mrs. Hanashiro’s Etegami and her notes dedicated to the fall season.
Mrs Hanashiro

 

pomegranate
Something you have and I don’t. 

Cracked open and the autumn was shining up.

My next door neighbor brought me the pomegranate branch with three big fruits still attached to it, commenting “I assumed it was something you would like to draw.” 

273

Praying for sound health.

Japanese folk characters including "Namahage" deities have been added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list. As you get older you start to realize that health is everything.

 

fallen leaves
The colors of foliage season. Let’s share them.

Why are they so beautiful? I am picking up fallen leaves one after another and keep drawing them. In my Etegami class, I encourage students to draw autumn leaves because it will be a good practice for them to learn how to make and add colors. Only practice can make things perfect. 

192Nice to meet you, Mr. Kozukura. Delivered from a port of Himi, Toyama. 
They were delicious both raw and simmered.

There were four Kozukura in the box. Kozukura is a rare fish of about 1 foot long. It is a young stage of maturity of yellow tail fish.

282

I bet this cup makes sake taste better.

That is what my husband said out loud when he first looked at this cup at an exhibition. He liked it even better after talking to the aspiring young potter, Toshio Mizutani. 

autumn rose
“You fulfil my heart.” Is that true?

My rose bush was neglected the whole summer because my house underwent major repair work. It was really hot, too! Their leaves looked weak and ill. I doubted they would even bloom this year. But once October came, the roses started blooming one after another. They are no match for spring roses’ gorgeousness, but autumn roses smell divine. They bloom for a longer period of time, too. When a receiver of my Etegami letter told me that it made them happy, I felt the urge to draw it again.

cuccko
Do they fly to me? A letter that brings autumn.

The little cuckoo was named after the wild bird because the little dots on the flower resembled the marks on the bird’s belly. Little cuckoo flowers are elegant and gorgeous. It is mid-October and starting to feel more like autumn every day. 

silver grass
I felt autumn in a breeze. It is also the season for eating.

Our feathering silver grass has created an autumn atmosphere from a corner of my garden every year for decades. They have characteristic beautiful feather marks on the leaf. When the wind blows through them, I notice the coming of the fall. The plant is also called obana, which reminds me of the wonderful restaurant “Obana” in Minami-Senju, Tokyo. I loved their eel bowl! 

autumn rose 2
You had me worried!

It was the hottest summer I have ever experienced, and as if to add insult to injury, the two extremely violent Typhoons hit Japan. The leaves were so damaged that I doubted the roses would bloom this autumn. But finally they are flowering. I am enjoying their pleasant fragrance.  

pink

A cloudless, clear autumn sky.
The notes of the ocarina sound clear, too. 

Once I asked a friend of mine, Kayoko Ebina (note: an essayist and the widow of the late rakugo master Hayashiya Sanpei), what flower she liked. At once she said “Pink! They look sweet, don’t they?” Recently I received a letter from her, to which I responded immediately with Etegami with pink. Timing is important in writing letters. I always write back as soon as I receive one before my feeling of happiness wears off. 

267

Pacific saury is fatty and in season. Bon appetit! 

Plump pacific saury (mackerel pike). I heard that plenty of them have been caught this year. I have tried trendy new recipes but my best way to eat the fish is simply grilling with salt and adding grated radish and juice of citron.

 

lets goLet’s go out, towards our next goal. 

Recently I was feeling a lot of pressure preparing for the coming exhibition of my husband and me. (Note: Mr. Hanashiro is an artist as well.) It will be the first exhibition for us after eleven years. I am doubting my skill has progressed in any way! Though I am feeling small, my art is big. Holding a paintbrush under a giant sky is my style. 

leaves 2   祐子顔写真1

Based in Tokyo, Sachiko Hanashiro is a renowned artist and popular teacher of Etegami. She started making Etegami in 1985, and held her first exhibition in 1987. The number of students she taught online and offline is over 100,000. She is also the founder of the Etegami Flower Association, which she still runs. Her appearances on TV have helped to spread the culture of Etegami. In 2000, she was recognized with an award from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications for her contributions to the letter-writing culture in Japan.

Learn Etegami with us!

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etegami sneak peek image captures

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