Akemi was born in a small town, Mito in Yamaguchi Prefecture. She embarked on her journey as a calligrapher at the age of eight, when her mother sent her to Calligraphy school to improve her writing, which had been compromised from losing sight in her left eye from cancer. Here, she was taught under Master Seizan Fujimoto, whose lineage is traced back to a well-known calligrapher of the Meiji period, Meikaku Kusakabe. At the age of 16, she started learning the style of Mr Goseki Nishiwaki through the Bunka Calligarphy association in Tokyo, over time, learning diverse styles of calligraphy used by other well-known calligraphers.
At the age of twenty-four, Akemi was qualified as a calligraphy teacher and was given the name “Koshu” by her master Seizan. The following year, after her return from the UK where she studied English, she set up her own school “Dream House” to teach Calligraphy and English. During this time, she held her first solo exhibition in Japan and continued to learn brush painting, seal making, scroll making, and gain qualifications in certificate-form writing and pen writing. With this extensive training, she developed her unique method of writing, the “Hakufu technique” (3D writing), guiding the viewer through her journey of life, each stroke with a soul of its own. She followed Seizan till his last breath, standing by his message, to never neglect the beginner’s mind.
After her husband’s death, Akemi followed his wish and moved to the UK. In 2001, she managed to re-start her calligraphy courses in the UK as “Koshu Japanese Art”. As a teacher, she has focused on bringing out the individuality of each student through their art. She is currently instructing a number of students through the grading of Bunka Calligraphy Association in Tokyo, with with 8 students qualified as Calligraphy teachers, and 7 Dan holders in both brush and pen calligraphy. Since, she has held several student exhibitions to demonstrate their work.
Koshu gained international recognition as a Japanese artist through her solo exhibition in 2013, held in London, which coincided with the publication of her art book “Love and Dream”. With this, she has been running numerous workshops in calligraphy, brush painting and seal making. In July 2014 and 2016, she was invited to exhibit her artwork and carry out demonstrations at an art event “Art in Action” in Oxford. In October 2016, she was invited to hold a solo exhibition as a part of 110 years’ anniversary event of the former British Consulate in Japan, receiving recognition as a Japanese artist in the UK. This exhibition was titled “the heart of the flower” after one of her signature artworks portraying the life of a Lotus flower. Through this exhibition, Koshu made many appearances on Japanese TV, strongly connecting her to the origin of her calligraphy. From September to December 2017, Koshu’s artwork was exhibited at “The Calligraphers in Conversation” at the San Francisco Public Library, where she also held demonstrations.
In 2017 and 2018, she was invited to demonstrate her work at the Hanami festival in Kent. In summer 2018, she was also invited to a team-building seminar for a japanese Pharmaceuticals company in Berkshire, Cowden japanese Garden in Scotland, and the Will Adams Festival in Kent, then in October at the event of “Tokugawa & Masters’ by Japanese Embassy in Georgia. She was appeared on National TVs and newspapers in Georgia, and build strong connection with people in Georgia.
Koshu also undertakes commissioned work. Recent highlights would be the creation of the label for the craft gin, Kokoro, which received a Gold Award in Design in 2018, and she continued her association with the brand, creating the artwork for other new Kokoro Gin products, which launched in April 2019. Since then, she has worked with Tazaki Food Ltd, creating the artwork for the new packaging for their Japanese Food brand “Yutaka”, which will be launched in summer 2019. She has also recently launched T-shirt lines, bags, tea-towels as Koshu Brand.
Currently, Koshu is excited to be working on two major projects; the Rugby World Cup, which will be hosted by japan later in 2019, and also the 2020 summer Olympic Games-Tokyo 2020. These commissions are extremely prestigious and Koshu feels they are a great honour to work on. These projects are very high profile, which will bring her work and an appreciation of Japanese art, to a wider International audience. Koshu is also very excited to have her solo exhibition in Georgia in July
1995 Nov Koshu first solo Exhibition in Mine-city, Yamaguchi, Japan
1995 Feb Joint Exhibition at Gallery Nakano in Yamaguchi, Japan
1995 May Joint Exhibition at Gallery Aka Renga in Yamaguchi, Japan
1995 Jul Koshu and her students’ exhibition at Dream House Opening
1996 Feb Joint Exhibition at Gallery Nakano in Yamaguchi, Japan
2001 Jun Some calligraphy and sumi paintings were displayed at the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Celebration Art & Crafts Exhibition in South Nutfield, Surrey, UK
2004 Feb Koshu solo exhibition of Japanese calligraphy and brush paintings, “Sincerely from the heart” at Bletchingley Central Gallery, Redhill, Surrey.
2004-2006 Displayed some artworks at a hotel lobby in East Croydon, Surrey.
2013 Nov Koshu solo Japanese art exhibition “Love and Dream” at Frameless Gallery in London.
Published the Book “LOVE and DREAM” by Koshu.
2014 Jul Exhibited various works at Art in Action in Oxford.
2016 Jul Exhibited various works at Art in Action in Oxford.
2016 Oct Koshu solo Japanese art exhibition “Heart of the lotus flower” at the former British Consulate in Shimonoseki, Japan, for the 110-year anniversary event.
2017 Sep-Dec ” Koshu’s artwork was exhibited at the “Calligraphers in Conversations” at the San Francisco Public Library
2004 Apr Japanese calligraphy and painting lecture and demonstration at Lingfield, Surrey.
2010-12 Teaching calligraphy class bimonthly at Woldingham school, Surrey.
2011 Oct Calligraphy workshop and Japanese card making workshop at the students’ exhibitio
2011 Started regular seal making workshops.
2013 MayCalligraphy workshops for teachers, Japanese club and art students at Wavell school, Hampshire.
2014 July Invited to ‘Art in Action’, held at the philosophy school in Waterperry, Oxfordshire. Demonstrations throughout this four-day event.
2014 Sep One-day Japanese calligraphy workshop for a group of English calligraphers in Kent.
2014 Nov Workshops and demonstrations for two days at Anifest in University of Kent.
2015 Feb School holiday workshops for kids to teach Japanese calligraphy, sumi painting and seal making.
2015 July Joined Japan day at local secondary school (Wavell School, Hampshire), held 3 Japanese calligraphy workshops.
2015 Nov In addition to the calligraphy and seal making workshops, started sumi painting workshops a few times a month.
2016 July Invited to ‘Art in Action’ for the second time, held at the philosophy school in Waterperry, Oxfordshire. Four days of demonstration of sumi painting and Japanese calligraphy and exhibiting her art works.
2016 July Started sumi painting workshop in Caterham, Surrey
2016 Oct-Nov Held 7 different workshops of calligraphy and sumi painting during Koshu’s exhibition at the former British consulate in Shimonoseki, Japan.
2017 Mar Demonstration at the Martial Arts Charity Seminar in Fleet, UK.
2017 Apr Demonstration at the Martial Arts Charity Seminar in Guildford, UK
2017 Apr Demonstration at the Camberley Woman Institution
2017 Apr Demonstration and Workshops at the Hanami Festival at the Brogdale Farm in Kent
2017 July-Aug Workshops at the former British Consulate in Shimonoseki inJapan.
2017 Nov Demonstration at the Oakland Asian Cultural Centre in USA
2017 Nov Demonstration at the Calligraphy Day at the San Francisco Public Library in USA
2017 Dec Demonstration at the Karate Champion ship in London.
2017 Dec Demonstration at the Hyoho nitten Ichiryu seminar in Basingstoke.
2018 Mar Demonstration at the Martial Arts Charity Seminar in Fleet, UK again
2018 Apr Demonstraions and Workshops at the Hanami Festival in Blogdale in Kent again.
2018 Jun Workshops at the Team build seminar (for 170 people) for a big Japanese Corporation in UK.
2018 Aug Workshops in Japan
2018 Sep Demonstrations and Workshops at Japanese Garden Cowden in Scotland for 2 days.
2018 Sep Demonstrations and Workshops at Will Adams Festival in Kent
2018 Oct Demonstrations at the Georgian National Museum and other places in Georgia at the even called “Tokugawa and the masters” held by Japanese Embassy in Georgia.
2018 Nov Demonstration at the Hyoko Nitten Ichiryu Seminar in Basingstoke. again
2018 Dec Demonstration at the International Karate for mental health in Guildford
2003 Koshu’s Students’ Art Exhibition 1; Bletchingley Centre, Redhill, Surrey, UK (20 artworks)
2011 Koshu’s Students’ Art Exhibition 2; Miller Centre, Caterham, Surrey, UK (42 artworks)
2016 Koshu’s Students’ Art Exhibition 3; Bourne Hall, Epsom, Surrey, UK (101 artworks)
Not only has there been an increase in the number of students coming to Koshu’s weekly classes, more and more of these students, seeking a challenge, have started taking Japanese calligraphy grading exams through the Bunka Shodo-Gakkai (based in Tokyo). Today about 33 students have joined the brush lettering calligraphy category, and seven students have entered the pen lettering calligraphy category, working hard towards various grades. Some are already “Dan” grade holders, two of which was awarded the master’s qualification in brush lettering, and three in pen lettering calligraphy. It is challenging especially to those who are non-Japanese speakers, but Koshu has been supporting her students, challenging them and pushing their potential.
These are some of Koshu’s commisions.
1996 Sep Commissioned to create a sign board of a Japanese potter’s studio in Japan.
2000-02 Commissioned to write certificate forms for the printing company in Japan.
2003 Aug Commissioned to create a sign board of Japanese chess school in Japan
2004 May Commissioned to create a screen as a part of a stage set, a poem with sumi painting in the UK.
2004 Jun Commissioned to create an artwork for a family who visited Koshu’s exhibition.
2006 Feb Commissioned to write some words for the brochures of a Chinese food company, SeeWoo Foods Limited in UK.
2012 Jan Commissioned to write 44 pieces of bookmarks with the name of their employees for Chugai Pharma UK Co.
2012 Sep Commissioned an art work from Philippines to create a calligraphy piece based on a poem.
2012 Oct Commissioned to create the words used for the brochures of Mitsubishi Motors UK.
2014 Mar Commissioned to write the title of the film “Imphal 1944” in Japanese and English.
2014 Jun Commissioned to write the name cards of 20 VIP guests for a conference dinner of the Libra Group Ltd.
2014 July Commissioned a seal making work of dragon
2014 Oct Commissioned to create a full size artwork of a tanka (short poem) written at the special exhibition as celebration of Kado (flower arrangement) Ikenobo UK 553 years. Her work was displayed at the entrance of the event.
2015 Apr Commissioned an artwork for a company “Made by Analogue” in London to write the name of the Gin bottle: “Kokoro Gin”
2017 Jan Commissioned work from Canada to design and carve a seal.
2017 July Commissioned to paint Plum blossoms in large size paper for a dental clinic in Richmond, London.
2017-2018 Koshu has been asked for many different commissions, however the big ones are Musician’s Album Artworks, Film titles, and Kokoro Gin’s new projects Artworks.
She has done certificate forms, Logos, calligraphy and Sumi painting artworks, creating seals, and tattoo designing etc
In 2011, Koshu was asked to create her art work on the walls of the new Japanese restaurant “Maki” in the popular residential town of Richmond, London. On one panel, she wrote “Wa”, which means harmony. On four other panels, she wrote poems and haikus representing each season, in hopes the customers would feel at one throughout the year. On the walls of the washrooms, she painted a Japanese lady dressed in a traditional kimono with a cheery blossom in the male room and bamboo for the female room, accompanied by a Japanese poem. Maki restaurant is currently very popular from families to couples, always full with reservations.
In 2014, Koshu won a commission work for Japanese restaurant “Kobe Sushi”. Her artwork “Qi Energy” can be seen on two of the main walls, as well as on their sign and menu. After some discussion with their architect, she decided to write the letter “Qi”, hoping to give the restaurant good Qi energy. This restaurant is casual in style and very popular.
Koshu blends East and West to produce some of the most exciting Japanese Art in her field. She is named Deshi (honoured student) of Master Seizan Fujimoto, who was a named student of the famous master, Kakudo Arita, who was a named student the legendary famous master, Kaikaku Niwa, following the historically well known calligrapher of Meiji period, Meikaku Kusakabe.
Koshu (1967- ) : At the age of 8, she started to learn Calligraphy under Seizan Fujimoto. Under Seizan’s guidance, she studied Goseki Nishiwaki’s style and later on studied other well-known calligraphers’s styles as well. At the age of 24, she opened “Koshu Calligraphy school” in Japan, and since 2002 she has been teaching and introducing Japanese art internationally. She has created her own style of art through blending the Eastern and Western cultures.
Seizan Fujimoto (1919-2004): Seizan was born in Yamatuchi and studied under Kakudo Arita. He opened the “Honanshogei School” and became a vice-president of Japan Calligraphy Kigo Association. Kakudo advised him to study the style of Goseki Nishiwaki, who also studied under Meikaku Kusakabe. Seizan focused on teaching the basic skills for beautiful writing. He used mathematical based ptoportions to schieve his beaugiful calligraphy, which he developed into a book. He spent his life teaching and training his successors, and also used his great skill in scroll-making to contribute to the restoration of historically important works.
Kakudo Arita (1899-1974): Kakudo was born in Yamaguchi and went to Meikaku Kusakabe’s school in Tokyo in the 9th year ot Taisho. There, he studied under Kaikaku Niwa and became a professional calligrapher. In Kana style, he studied under Chikudo Takatuki who studied under Gado Ono, who was a hitrorically well-known calligrapher in Kana style. Kakudo collaborated with other calligraphy experts and focused on innovating calligraphy education and also introducing calligraphy for both artistic uses and for writing. He opened his calligraphy school in Hagi and focused on training his successors as well as working as an elementary school teacher.
Kaikaku Niwa (1863-1931): Kaikaku studied under Maikaku Kusakabe. His active period covered both the Meiji and Taisho period (late 19th century to the mid-1920s). He created his own style, based on Zheng Daozhao style dating from sixth-century China, and the “Kaikaku style” predominated all over Japan. He was one of the most charismatc calligraphers with Tenrai Hirai and Secchiku Kondo. He has great influence in the world of calligraphy and focused on developing the modern calligraphy education.
Maikaku Kusakabe (1838-1922): Meikaku was a Cabinet Diplomat of the New Governmanet in the Meiji period. After his retirement, he developed his own Meikaku style, influeneced by a Chinese Calligrapher named Yang Shoujing. He became one of the three most influential calligraphers of the Meiji period, along with Gochiku Nakamura and Ichiroku Iwaya. He was named as the Father of Modern Japanese Calligraphy, and kown as an artist as well as an educator. He trained a great many apprentices, so even now a lot of calligraphers follow his style.