The Hobart

Drawing a Link Between Tasmania and Japan

by Dr Emerald L King
Drawing a Link Between Tasmania and Japan

This is a story of two families, two sisters; told between travel, break ups, weddings, births, changes in jobs, and lifestyle.

Jun Yamaguchi first came to Tasmania twenty years ago. She fell in love instantly with the island’s starlit skies, fresh berries, and open spaces.

In 2004 Jun travelled to Hobart on a short stay language study exchange programme between the University of Tasmania and her university in Japan, Kinjo Gakuin. During this trip she stayed with a homestay family in South Hobart.

At the same time that Jun was on homestay in South Hobart with the King family, their daughter was on a year-long exchange at Kinjo Gakuin University as part of the University of Tasmania’s ongoing exchange program.

Emerald King performing sansankudo at Jun’s wedding

The first time the girls met wouldn’t be until Jun returned to Japan at the end of her Hobart trip. However, one night the King’s daughter called home with a bad cold. Jun immediately asked for permission to call her parents in Japan and arranged for her mother to drop off food and medicine. In this way, each girl would meet the other’s family before they met each other.

These interactions would tie the two families together and this month, Jun is finally bringing her mother and her own two daughters to her “Tasmanian home” to meet her family here.

Jun comes from a calligraphy dynasty and is a licenced calligraphy sensei and a published calligrapher. Her family’s work has been recognised nationally. Her grandfather wrote talismans and holy scrolls for temples throughout Nagoya. In 2020 her father was recognised as the most outstanding calligrapher in his style of Japanese calligraphy at a ceremony in Tokyo with representatives of the imperial household present.

Jun specialises in detailed, beautiful brush characters in the classical style dating to the Heian period (794-1185). She also creates dynamic calligraphy performances using massive brushes and giant pieces of paper. Jun has staged these performances around Japan, as well as in Western Australia and Tasmania.

Jun writing calligraphy at her wedding

For her own wedding, Jun gave a calligraphy performance with a large mop sized brush and a giant tub of black ink while wearing a white wedding gown. Her husband of no more than half an hour’s first duty was to hold her skirts out of the way as she wrote three metre characters of hope and prosperity.

For Jun, bringing her daughters to Tasmania and showing them and her mother the place that she fell in love with, is dream come true. Her itinerary includes picnicking at the Botanical Gardens, penguin watching, going up to the summit of kunanyi/Mt Wellington, and star gazing at night.

While in Tasmania, Jun will host a free lunchtime calligraphy demonstration for university and students of Japanese, and an evening workshop and demonstration where participants will pay a nominal fee to cover all of their brush, ink, and paper. This will take place on 5 March, hosted by University of Tasmania Communities in the “old” Studio Theatre on the Sandy Bay campus. Bookings via eventbrite.

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June 2024

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