Nissan Seminar: Kana: The Forgotten “Women Hand” Characters and Empowerment of Women in Medieval Times

Convener(s): Professor Sho Konishi and Dr Mateja Kovacic

Speaker(s): Ms Kaoru Akagawa


Kaoru Akagawa was norn in Canada, grew up in the U.S. and Japan, and since 2007 in Europe.  A contemporary artist and also a master of Japanese calligraphy (Kana Shodo). With my globe-trotting background I challenge to cross the borders between traditional and modern, western culture and eastern, music and writing, and so on.  I also try to revive ancient traditional Japanese syllabary, Kana characters in modern times with my own style of art, Kana Art.

Abstract: Kana: The Forgotten “Women Hand” Characters and Empowerment of Women in Medieval Times

From BBC’s announcement to raise its female presenters’ salaries significantly to the ECB and European Commision’s nominations of Christine Lagarde and Ursula von der Leyen respectively for their first female presidents, second half of 2019 started with good news for women. Women’s empowerment and the fourth-wave feminism in the 21st century is gaining its steam by social media, or in other words acquisition of new communicating method. However, it is not known that there was an era in Japan a millennium ago, when women enjoyed their freedom by expressing and sharing their ideas freely with new communication tool they acquired. Kaoru Akagawa, a master of traditional Japanese calligraphy, Kana Shodo, and an artist who merges traditional calligraphy with new techniques in a style she’s named Kana Art, reveals the “forgotten” story of Kana, or traditional Japanese characters called “On’nade” (女手) literally translated “Women Hand” and its influence on Japanese culture and aesthetic.