“Yosuga” is the etymological source for the more popular Japanese word “en,” which means connection. Good definitions of yosuga are: “A place where the mind and body are drawn and can rest,” “A dependable person,” “A relative,” and “A place to turn to or depend on.”
On Kyoto’s old historical streets, traditional small buildings huddling together look as if they are supporting each other.
The Yosuga facility, located in this type of traditional house, is a place where artists and scholars can find their connection, and rest, and a place to depend on. The ultimate purpose is to create a space where even just one person can bring a smile to many people’s faces.
Art Space Yosuga is a nonprofit facility which mainly operates an ‘artist-in-residence’ program in a renovated pair of traditional Japanese houses. With a gallery space included as well, this old-fashioned building gives international and domestic artists and scholars a place to work, study and exhibit the fruits of their labor.
The project involves assisting artists and scholars, and facilitating their integration into the regional community. In a reciprocal fashion, the local area becomes integrated into a multinational conversation. If one may measure a society by its vigor, Yosuga AIR’s goal is to contribute to that positive energy through culture.
Notes on the start of the business
As a boy, the Yosuga business proprietor, Tadayoshi Numasawa, liked painting. In the future he envisioned himself as a painter. Both of his parents were against it however and his dream was not to be fulfilled. Instead he began work as a white-collar company worker, but nagged by the desire for a greater purpose in life he quit his job and entered the police force to eventually become a detective.
His detective career spanned 26 years and mostly handled emotionally trying cases of murder, robbery and rape. Surrounded by people who secreted away their tears and sadness, he felt that even if he were able to stop the tears he would be doomed to never really fully smile again.
When the Great Earthquake of Eastern-Japan occurred on March 11, 2011, Tadayoshi’s relatives in Fukushima were affected, and so he joined the volunteer force helping people in the area. He felt that color and beauty could be of use to help people there break out of depression.
“At a shelter one day, a young girl picked a bright red rubber ball out from under a pile of rubble. Smiling from ear to ear she went around showing it to the adults, shoulders sunken from exhaustion and heads drooping. The adults one-by-one lit up with bright smiling faces at the sight of this child and the ball.
After that experience I wanted to do something that brought smiles to peoples’ faces, spending the second half of my life helping artists. In March 2013 I took an early retirement from the police force, put my savings into this facility, and in September opened the Yosuga AIR program in this wonderful cultural capital of Kyoto.”
Places of Interest / Local Charm
Since the capital Heian-kyo was established there in 794, Kyoto has been the center of Japanese traditional culture and arts, called the “Millennium city.” Many cultural assets are found throughout the city and world heritages including Kamigamo Shrine, Shimogamo Shrine, Toji Temple, Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Enryakuji Temple, Daigoji Temple, Ninnaji Temple, Byodoin Temple, Ujigami Shrine, Kosanji Temple, Saihoji Temple (known as the “Moss Temple”), Tenryuji Temple, Kinkakuji Temple, Ginkakuji Temple, Ryoanji Temple, Nishi-Hongwanji Temple and Nijo Castle are located in Kyoto Prefecture. The Kyoto Art Center, Kyoto National Museum, The National of Modern Art Kyoto, and many other cultural facilities are located near Yosuga. This facility is conveniently located within walking distance from Kyoto Station.