Excellent Work (Japan)
“Passion Painted with Sound Makes the Connection”
Hiroki Kubo (35, Company employee) Tokyo

“I can’t paint anymore...” As I was counting the things I could no longer do for myself, I felt empty. Drawing scenery that caught my eye in a sketchbook had been my way of giving shape to what I thought and felt, a way of expressing myself. I had always liked to draw, ever since I was a small child. I’m an impatient person, so my paintings lacked grace, but people around me gave them favorable remarks for being unique. Painting was something that shouldn’t have been taken away from me. Of all things, why did I have to lose my eyesight?
I started to feel that there was something wrong with my eyes when I was seventeen. It was after I had begun cutting classes and eventually left high school all together. Back then I was afraid of having people look at me. I couldn’t even go outside. I was afraid to talk to anyone; I refused to make any connection. My eye condition was a serious one resulting from Behcet’s disease. I lost my eyesight completely only two years after the onset of the affliction. There were so many things I realized only after losing my eyesight. What it meant to look into the eyes of someone I loved. The ability to read and write. My love for painting. Everything used to make me happy. I felt powerless. Painting was the one thing I had been good at, and now it was gone. I was looking for a reason to exist. I wanted someone to know that I was here living in this world. “I don’t want to end up like this,” I thought. I remember experiencing strong feelings of remorse surge in my heart.
I gathered up all my energy and committed myself to rehabilitation. Braille was the first thing I encountered. At first it just looked like a series of dots. I had no idea at that time that it would be the key to opening up my future. I became excited as I learned more and more Braille letters. I started to enjoy reading, which did not interest me much when I had my eyesight. Braille brought back the simple pleasure of reading. I soon developed a desire to study English Braille as I liked foreign films and music. I now had a new desire in life, a life I had once given up on. I plunged back into the world completely renewed. I took an entrance exam in Braille and was accepted into a high school, already setting my sights on college.
Right after I entered the school, I came upon a turning point in life. It happened when I went to Canada on a school trip during summer vacation. The purpose of the trip was to experience out-of-classroom English, but I gained much more than that. I heard a Canadian woman singing and playing piano at the lounge of the hotel where we were staying. Although I did not understand the English lyrics she was singing, her voice conjured a vivid scene in my mind. It was as if I had been looking at a painting. “This is it!,” I thought. I was shaking. Back in Japan, I immediately went to the school’s music room. I didn’t know anything about music, but I began to strike the piano keys simply following my instincts. “This sound reminds me of a sunset.” “This tune is like leaves rustling in the wind.” This was the moment when music transformed into images in my mind. I moved my fingers delicately across the instrument just as I had moved my brushes across a painting. My fingers found the keys on the piano just as they had previously found colors on a palette. I had finally regained that wonderful feeling I had when I used to draw and paint. Two months later, you could find me singing original songs and playing piano on stage at the school art festival. Since then, during my college years and even now that I am out of school and have a career, music has become a precious means of expressing myself.
Unlike painting, music has neither shape nor color. This may make it hard to grasp, but on the other hand, it has unlimited potential. Through my piano, people can feel what I have deep in my heart. Sounds convey my shapeless, wordless passion. I would never have known this thrill if I hadn’t lost my eyesight. In learning Braille, I discovered a new way to express myself, which in turn introduced me to the pleasure of connecting with people. I named my band “Sketchbook” and continue playing music to this day. I want to continue painting many pictures through sound. I want to continue communicating what I think and feel. I believe this is the reason for my existence in this world...


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