“The Finest of Japanese-French Cultural Exchange” by Tsuguharu Fujita Spinning Across the Centuries

Tsugouharu Foujita connu aussi sous son simple nom de famille, Foujita, ou sous le nom adopté à la fin de sa vie, Léonard Foujita, est un peintre, dessinateur et graveur français d’origine japonaise.

► Découvrez le replay du symposium “The Finest of Japanese-French Cultural Exchange” by Tsuguharu Fujita Spinning Across the Centuries : (en japonais)

Conformément aux souhaits de l‘artiste exprimés avant sa mort, le musée des Beaux-Arts de Reims (France), dont la réouverture est prévue en 2025, abritera une salle dédiée au peintre Foujita de près de 240m².

Plus d’informations : http://ailawhiiragi.sakura.ne.jp/

Let's encourage the French Government to recognize the importance of Chapel Foujita by elevating its status from a historical building to UNESCO World Heritage! Located just a 45-minute TGV ride from Paris and a 15-minute walk from the Reims train station, the capital of Champagne, visiting the chapel is an enriching experience.

FUJITA TSOUGOUHARU (written as a French citizen), a Japanese painter, acquired French nationality with his wife Kimiyo at the age of 69 and automatically lost his Japanese nationality in accordance with Article 11, Paragraph 1 of the Nationality Law of Japan. He then lived for 12 years as a French painter in Villiers-le-Bacle on the outskirts of Paris. When he was 80 years old, a champagne manufacturer, MUMM, suggested that he build the Foujita Chapel (while he was suffering from prostate cancer, which was incurable at the time).  He painted frescoes on the walls of the chapel, which was under construction, in places higher than two-storey buildings, using only stepladders and ladders.  Wishing to follow in the footsteps of Leonardo da Vinci, a leading painter of the Renaissance period, Foujita continued to paint the frescoes for about three months, with the devoted help of his wife, with whom he had been married for 30 years, even though this painting would shorten his life.  In addition, Foujita himself worked on the stained glass at the back of the chapel, giving detailed instructions to the craftsmen, as it expresses the main theme of the chapel, 'Peace'.  It depicts the devastation caused by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, using many caricatures in the Japanese style.  Note that the design of the interior and exterior of the chapel and other objects in the worship space are all by Foujita.  The whole area of Foujita Chapel is Foujita's comprehensive art.

Reims has two World Heritage sites: Basilique Saint-Remi, where Foujita received a revelation from God at the age of 73, and Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims, where Mr and Mrs Foujita received the sacrament of baptism and where journalists from all over the world gathered (a large photographic panel depicting this event is on the left wall of the cathedral). Although La Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix can be inscribed on the World Heritage List as a single building, it is thought that an application to add the chapel as an extension of these two sites would be more likely to be accepted (according to Mr Koichiro Matsuura, former Director-General of UNESCO, an example of an extension application is that for Chusonji Temple, which is inscribed on the World Heritage List.  It is currently being submitted to cover unlisted parts).

We hope that as many tourists as possible from Japan will visit Reims and feel that the city is like "Kyoto" in France (coronation ceremonies of kings were held in Reims for over 1,000 years) and enjoy Foujita's paintings and the Foujita Chapel, which he built at the risk of his life.  Foujita is said to be an artist who appears only once every 100 years.

Masahiko Sumida
Member of the International Exchange Committee, Japan Bar Association

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