Everything is Going to be Alright

Everything is Gonna Be Alright –

[Cover story from Hiragana Times March 2024 issue]
Cover story of all hourses

all 9 horses

Since ancient times, Japan has been called “a country where happiness is born through the spirit of words,” and the sound of words has been cherished.


Finding meaning in each sound of words and compiling them into 50 sounds, starting from “a, i, u, e, o ,” is what constitutes the “gojuonzu” (fifty-sound chart).


In Japan, wordplay imbuing meaning, “infuse with significance,” has been commonly observed since the Nara period (8th century) when the “Manyoshu” was compiled, continuing to the present day.


This month’s cover is decorated with nine samurai paintings by BUNTA iNOUE – samurai riding around on horses. This pattern, which means “umaku iku (Everything is Going to be Alright)” because “uma ga kyuutou iku (umaku iku/ nine horses go),” has long been favored in Japan.


Depicted in these warrior paintings is KATO Kiyomasa, a military commander from the Azuchi-Momoyama period to the early Edo period (mid-16th to early 17th century). Kiyomasa is said to have been an extremely large man. His beloved horse was also of considerable size, and due to its wild nature, it was affectionately called “Taishakukurige” (God Taishaku chestnut hair). Currently, at Higo Honmyoji Temple in Kumamoto Prefecture, where Kiyomasa is enshrined, there is a hall dedicated to Taishakukurige, housing a wooden statue of a red horse.


The sumi-e paintings on the campus are new and different from conventional sumi-e paintings on Japanese paper, which are shown through the expression of blotchiness. In the era of Reiwa (2019-present), the revived Kiyomasa resonates with a message of encouragement: “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.”


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