” Interview from Artpromotivate “


Writer : Graham Matthews
Original URL : http://www.artpromotivate.com/2012/03/hiroko-sakai-contemporary-japanese.html

Artist Spotlight – Hiroko Sakai
Contemporary Japanese Artist from San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Artist Introduction

I am an Artist, originally from Japan, and has been living and working in San Francisco.

surrealism painting, fantasy painting, life painting, bird painting, skyscraper, eye painting, rope walking painting, feather falling from sky, inspiring, figurative paintingArtistic Style

I am a painter. I am not sure what style is my art….. maybe you can tell from my website.
One thing I can say is my art is the ‘communication’. I am a Japanese who has problem to communicate in different language here some times. But through my art, I can express what I have inside freely and can connect to people’s heart.


I am an oil painter.

I used to work on my art with various mediums, such as air brush, pastel, tile mosaic, etc… but after all, I ended up captured by oil. I love oil.
I feel that Oil is the basis of paintings.
When I paint in Oil, I feel as though I’m sharing inspirations with old masters. And the slow dry process of Oil gives me plenty of time to communicate with my canvas, giving me time to think as much as I need.

Japanese surrealism painting, Japanese fantasy art, Japanesque, surrealism oil painting, Asian art, Japanese art, Japaense garden, bamboo, fantasy fine art painting, koi fish oil painting

I am a self taught artist, so I do not know if I have any technique to boast to the world*
Humm…. but on the other hand, since I did not learned my art from outside, I can say all my art comes from my inside.
If you have some time, please take a peek at here > About Hiroko Sakai


The theme of my art is… I think ‘Life’. All what I get through, all what I feel… in my life can be the theme of my art.

Why do you create art?

Because I live and exist.

How often do you create?

Except the time I am sleeping, eating, taking bath, etc…??
Oh, but art marketing takes a lot of my time, like this* but still typing my keyboard, new images are going on in my mind.


My Art is often compared with Salvador Dali’s because of melting clock, but honestly, I have not seen Dali’s work so much…. one of my true inspirations is from Frida Kahlo for her naked expression of her emotions in her life, also I like Norman Rockwell’s way to express life in humorous and intellectual way. I feel the depth of life from his works while his painting surface are… what you call… easy going?

love, lovers painting, love bird painting, surrealism painting, fantasy art, melting clock, snake, eye painting, moon, apple tree, night, figurative oil painting

Do you make a living with your art?

I am trying….

What is your favourite two methods of art promotion?

Facebook is one of the main places right now. It is also comfortable for me who sometimes have hard time with the conversation of talking English. Exchanging short English words with my fans, I can show them my messages widely.
Also, I have started becoming more serious to express about my art on my blog… Hiroko Sakai Blog I kind of started taking interest in writing which I used not to be a big fan before. The good part of them is Medusa, Medusa art, Medusa painting, Medusa face, snake painting, myth art, sexy woman painting, stylish artwork, beautiful woman's face, Medusa fine art painting, fantasy artMedusa, Medusa art, Medusa painting, Medusa face, snake painting, myth art, sexy woman painting, stylish artwork, beautiful woman's face, Medusa fine art painting, fantasy artI can get direct responses from many different kind of people from all over the world.

Recommend a contemporary artist…

My goal is Royo.
His theme of art is totally different from mine, but I am stuck in his art since I saw his work at my first sight on his book. The light and shadow on his works are overwhelming.

Three words that describe Hiroko Sakai

A trouble maker

Please tell us something interesting in your life

The biggest thing is that I am a Japanese artist in San Francisco. I myself had never imagined that I would end up to San Francisco as a single mom artist.
It is a long story…To get here, I had got through so many black comedies, such as international marriage, domestic violence,San Francisco Asian Women’s shelter life….I hope you have some time to take a peek at my story.
> About Hiroko Sakai

Where do you see yourself as an artist 10 years from now?

10 years from now? I even do not know ifI am still alive…
I am living"today" with my art every Japanesque, Japanese art, Asian art, zen, meditation painting, Buddhism monk painting, Japanese garden, temple, buddhism painting, spiritual painting, inspiration, Buddhism monk, prayer for world peacedays.

Advice for Emerging and Upcoming Artists

Whatever other people say, you know your art the best. If your art is not accepted, it is just because they are different.
I can not explain well in English, but there are as many people as the number of the stars on the sky, so you just need to find people who have the same inspirations as yours.



Hiroko Sakai – Surreal Oil Paintings

Art Website – Hiroko Sakai Fine Art
Twitter – hirokosakai
Facebook – Hiroko Sakai Fine Art on Facebook


This is just one of several videos that Hiroko has
at Youtube of her inspiring artworks. To find more,
please search for Hiroko Sakai in the Youtube search bar.


* Visit Artpromotivate. They are full of useful art resources!


Got Art?
☞ Check out Hiroko Sakai Original Oil Paintings, Art Prints and more!☞ Hiroko’s Original Artwork for Sale Online by Artist


” A life path why I’ve ended up to be in San Francisco “


Being a Japanese Artist in San Francisco, one of the best ranking questions from people to me is;

"What brought you to San Francisco from Japan?"

Well, here is my speech that I’ve made for an Art event at Lindsay Unified School District where I was invited as their guest Artist in 2008, and I believe this explains all to you.

Lindsay, farming, farm, landscape, country side, plantationLindsay is a city in Tulare County, California, United States.
Many people from Mexico are living in this city to work in agriculture area leaving their own country. I was asked to share my experiences with them which I got through to have ended up to be an artist in San Francisco, leaving my own country Japan.

It is a little awkward feeling to share such a goofy private story, but since I put this speech on my website, I’ve got so many responses from overwhelming numbers of people from all over the world telling me how they were encouraged and how they were even saved from their wander in their lives, so I decided to keep this speech on my blog here.

despair and hope, emotion, beautiful oil painting, art, surrealism, sun flower, wing, tear, water, hope, love, red,fine art, hiroko sakai, spiritual, inspiring painting, inspiring art, cool art, sorrow, challenge You know, if somebody’s getting depressed in life, I would say, "Look at me’. I’ve got here believing in me. Sometimes, things do not go as you expected and you could feel as if you were ruining everything. But Everything can be only the path to get to the success of your dream. You can not fail until you give up. As long as you keep going, you are on the path for your success.

OK, here we go.
I hope you enjoy.




Today, I would like to talk about some pieces of my black comedies how I ended up to be a Japanese Artist in San Francisco.

speech, hiroko sakai speech, speech for hopeI was born in Fukuoka Japan. It is located in the northern Kushu island and is one of the Japanese main cities.

My father is doing karate master after retiring his bank work. He is one of the international licensed master who has his own karate organization in Japan. My mother is also enjoying her after retired life doing volunteer for blind people, and dancing etc… They are a very energetic couple.
My younger brother is a musician in Tokyo.

My professional Art career started in the graphic Arts field in Fukuoka, Japan, in the early 1990s. After graduating from University, I founded my own commercial Art studio named Atelier Yume-Tsumugi, which means Dream weaver.
In my studio in Japan, I emphasized working on a variety of projects with varying requirements, from commercial illustrations to architectural rendering, rather than a distinct style.
When I started my career, I was still in early 20’s and very ambitious. So I did not want to limit my possibilities in one specialty.


graphic art, cool graphicIn the start of my career, what I forced myself was, "Never say ‘ I can’t’". Whatever I got, first thing I said was "OK, I can do it".
Make the contract first, and then think.
Chances never wait. There was always huge line after me in those competitive world, and I had enough learned that it was very easy to lose my spot with one second hesitation.

In the professional commercial Art field, I was required variety skills, different mediums, computer skills, knowledge of printing effections… And not only about Art techniques, but also how to compromise with budget, connection with other services, etc… And adding to those, time was always never enough. Clients were always working hard to cut their time and budget. So, if I wanted to make my life as a commercial Artist, I had to give up sleeping.

perspectiveOperating my studio everydays, I had to learn how to answer my clients’ requirements by myself. Especially, to lean how to use different mediums and tools, necessity was the best teacher.
Most people waste so much time for starting Art with going to schools or seeking some other’s instructions. Then, a lot of people end up to be just overwhelmed with too much information in the first stage, where they are not ready yet, and get scared to run away.

I have never learned Art at any schools in my life. But I have never had any problems with my works in my studio. I did make my artworks with whatever mediums required from chalks, pastels, water colors… to air brush, tile mosaics and computer graphics. All I needed was just get the new mediums and play with them for couple of hours to get used to. The staffs at the art store were also good places to ask about the new mediums. They give you all advises you need without paying such a big money for schools.

sign designAnyway, my 20’s had passed in the sleepless life.
Everyday, mornings started with different clients deadlines.

To tell the good part, they brought me more money than doctors make here each months. In the commercial businesses, the value of art works are huge, because they are used for large markets which pay them back more.
My artworks were used for catalogs, TV commercials, posters, sings etc… and they lead the images of the products and companies to public.

Running my own art studio, I was living in a very rich life being surrounded with luxurious stuff, which the same age girls could never afford to. Also I could built great connections with celebrated people in society, calling them "my friend".

mosaic tile, tile artHowever, when you get something, you have to give up other things in return.
In those times, my life were all about my business.
All the people around me were either my staffs or clients. I had almost no friend whom I can open my heart to privately.
Also, my life there was always being pressed by overwhelming competitions and responsibilities at every minutes. My works were made based on clients’ needs, not from my original creativity. Once I failed, I could be easily replaced with the next person behind me.
In those pressures, after all, I ended up to the hospital life.


One day, I suddenly got a heavy pain on my back, and I was brought to a hospital.

emotion, beautiful oil painting, art, surrealism,fine art, hiroko sakai, spiritual, inspiring painting, inspiring art, cool art, birdcage, nude, flame, fire,sorrow, depression, woman nudeIf it was malignant, he said, I might not have any chance to live, even in the best case, I would lose my womb.

The hospital room where I was put in was the room for cancer patients of womb. Some ladies were already after surgery and some were waiting for getting their wombs taken out. Some were wearing scarf on their head to hide their losing hair.

It was a shocking incident in my life. And I felt it would take all the hope out from my life.

But on the other hand, I happened to get a time to stop to look around my life, in where I had kept myself running and running. It gave me some time to think about my life deeply where I was.

Fortunately, my tumor was benign.
Thanks to God, I am still here to meet you today.

After leaving hospital, I decided to reset my life.
Following to the change, I have started yearning for making my own family, and before long from there, I got married with an American man who gave me sincere encouragement and support in my hospital life.
That was how I was brought to US.

OK, If this was a Hollywood Romance movie, the story would end here with happy ending spectacular music! …But the reality is always a little bit different….


First of all, moving to US was a totally unexpected change of my life. When I got married with him. what he was saying first was that he would move to Japan so I would not need to change my life.

emotion, beautiful oil painting, art, surrealism,fine art, hiroko sakai, spiritual, inspiring painting, inspiring art, cool art, wonderland, lip, eyeAfter getting married in Japan, he went back to CA saying he would need to finish some works left to prepare him to move to Japan, and I waited for his return in Japan.
But he did not come back for months, then during the time, I got to know that I was getting pregnant.

After a long story, it was me who had to move to California after all, to get to know that he was actually not doing anything for moving to Japan.

In this way, my new strange life in far away country had started with big belly, strange language, and domestic violence in the bargain.

It was a big lesson for me.
In this change, what I lost was huge.

I lost my studio, I lost my career, and also I lost all the money. To move my life to California, I had spent all my savings for paying all the moving expenses, and compensations for each of my staffs’ some months salaries and equipment lease, etc..

It was too late for me to realize how I was the one of the naive Japanese girls, who do not know how to doubt other people. In Japan, people hardly miss what they once make promises and always work hard to keep their words. On the same time, I got learned why making the contract was so important in this America before starting new business.


Anyway, show must go on…


After half an year passed, I got my baby born.
By that time, the attitude of the man, whom I got married, had turned very abusive. He was always irritated and grumpy in heavy mood swings and treated me like a slave.
emotion, beautiful oil painting, art, surrealism,fine art, hiroko sakai, spiritual, inspiring painting, inspiring art, cool art,fetus, egg, heaven, eye, holly, light, clouds, hand sky, universe, rebirth, birthIn his eyes, I was no more a cool successful rich woman, just an useless naive weak burden who were even struggling with making the communications in his language.
I would never forget his face when he throw an application paper on my face which he got from Macdonald, scoffing, "When can you start making money again?"

In the life, for the first time in my life, I had experienced enough what the miserable was. However, I had already had a baby there. I wanted to keep going.
But the more I tried, the worse his attitude got. I still can not believe he made me begged him to keep marring me when he threatened me saying that if I got against him, he would make me deported and I could never been able to see my baby here ever again. I was even being lost where I was.

One morning, he ordered me like a military general to stand next to him. As soon as I stand there, he grabbed my shirt’s neck and start hanging me up, asking me " Do you think the baby can sleep in such twisted shirt?"
I was choked badly and it was my limit. I told him I would want to divorce.


After that, it was a big nightmare.
One calm evening, I was milking my baby in bedroom, laying on the bed.
Suddenly, I heard rough knockings at the apartment entrance door. Next minute, two big polices ran into my room and started yelling at me in fast laud English.
I was frightened and could not know what was happening there at all.
At those time, I could not understand English so well.

Then CPS came to meet me.
It seemed like I was reported to them that I might kill my baby. And ofcause who made such a crazy drama was ‘him’.
He tried to get some police reports on me, taking advantage on my poor English, preparing for future court for custody issue.
He had a son in his previous marriage but when he got divorced, he could not get any custody on him. So this time he really wanted to get the baby.


After that, I was almost being put under the supervision of his family when he was not with me. I was even not allowed to be with my baby alone. But I tried to explain the situation to them by writing faxes every days.
Then CPS required me to go to counseling.
After all, it was a big luck for me that they found a Japanese counselor for me.

Finishing some sessions, the counselor told me that I was under domestic violence situation and I could eventually put the end on this nightmare by being saved by Asian Women’s’ Shelter in San Francisco with my baby. At that time, she was still only 4 months old.

After this, thanks to the shelter’s support, I got the start of new life in San Francisco.


emotion, beautiful oil painting, art, surrealism,fine art, hiroko sakai, spiritual, inspiring painting, inspiring art, cool art, eye, tears, thorn, red, colorful, mazeThrough this nightmare, I had lost everything. What still left with me there were only some of my belongings, which I could barely brought with me in one suitcase, and a tiny baby.
It was a totally strange far away country for me, where I could not even make enough communication with other people in my language. Besides, I had nobody whom I know.

I wished I could go back to Japan, but I could not.
The divorce was done in the law of California and they didn’t allow me to take my daughter back to Japan to live with me. They even require foreign parents to carry the agreement paper of other American citizen parents when we leave California to make short trips with our children for other place, such as our own countries. So I had no choice except staying in California until she gets 18 years old for keeping her custody.


I could never thank enough to the shelter through my life.
I had stayed in shelter for about 4 months and during the time, asian women's shelter logothey arranged amazingly excellent supports for me to prepare for my new life, such as legal support, childcare, counseling, school for ESL, etc…. And the most wonderful thing was they had many volunteers who were from several different Asian countries, so the residents could talk and live without so much difficulties in communication and also felt easier in our own cultures.

Even after I left shelter, they still kept supporting my life closely, and also kept referring me some non profit organizations depend on my needs, until my legal case closed, such as my divorce, custody and child support, and my Green card status.


This year, it has passed almost 9 years since then.
"Time flies" is a really good saying.

After starting my life in San Francisco alone, first 4 years, it was very hard. In those times, I could not feel like doing anything but just letting the time go. I had no idea where my life was going to…
Still, I had this tiny strange existence with me who were totally depending on my care. Taking care of a baby was my very first experience. In my previous life in Japan, I had not had so many experiences with those tiny people, even holding them in my arms. Everyday became the continuations of new studies how to deal with this tiny existence.

But living one day to another, something had started coming into my view. Even how scary and standoffish the outside world was, I anyhow had to force myself to get out my apartment door everydays, for court issues, baby’s needs and other life errands.
Getting so desperate, huge anxiety was killing my stomach, but on the same time, I had started rather being determined to do anything to keep going. No matter how hard, I could not change this situation. Then, why not to change myself making this a new opportunity to rebuild my new life.

After I changed my viewpoint to accept where I was, the things became much easier. I had timidly started exploring this new world.
Looking around, my apartment was very empty. Except some dishes and clothes and a few stuff which shelter gave me when I moved in there, my main possession was only my laptop. How different the surroundings were from where I was!
It opened my eyes and made me realized how much excessive stuff I had lived my life with, being berried in and sticking on those material things.
Looking around my empty room, I thought that, in this world, we were actually not possessing anything except our own body and spirit. How easily the material things could be lost according to the change of life!
Luxurious antique furniture from Europe, thousands dollars clothes, Rolex watches, name brands bags…. they had easily gone from my life…

emotion, beautiful oil painting, art, surrealism,fine art, hiroko sakai, spiritual, inspiring painting, inspiring art, cool art, fairy painting, fantacy,i believe, hand, nude, light, wonderlandBut now, what I have inside of my spirit, they could never be lost. I will never lose my wisdom which I have learned in my history of experiences, and I have never lose my strength and knowledge which I learned through my life path. Wherever I go, and whatever my life condition changes, they will make my life.
After realizing these points, I became very free, and I have started appreciating my simple life.

We often tend to look our frustration and complaints first. And it seems our natural habit to concentrate on what we do not have rather than what we have.
But if you look around yourself deeper, you would be surprised how much you are actually being blessed with what you have to live your life with.

Anyway, now, I can humbly appreciate that my goofy life path was worth to pay my precious life lessons. And somehow, I also can feel as if I were lead to here by the power of the existence above me.
Needless to say, for the Artists all over the world, San Francisco is the one of the dream Art cities in the world. And whatever happened in my path, I happened to have ended up here to start my new life.
While it had taken my 5 years away from my Art life to adjust my basic life here, I have eventually restarted my Art here.


emotion, beautiful drawing, art, surrealism,fine art, hiroko sakai, spiritual, inspiring drawing, inspiring art, cool art, virgin mary, drawing, sorrow, hopeFirst, after a long blanc, I have started drawing like sweeping out my stuck emotions which had piled up in my inside. There was no colors on my paper at those times.
Then red came back… and blue came next. One by one, colors slowly came back on my paper.
Seeing those path, I may be able to say that this was my Art healing.
I had not thought about such stuff so specially before, but getting through them, I can now see that Art has some power to heal and lead to get our twisted mental state straight back.

Creating something out brings the healthy good feelings of achievement. Also expressing own originality out into the actual visible figures can be the reverifying own existence. It is like communicating with outside world using what I have inside deep naturally.

Getting back colors in my drawings, one day, I decided to start Oil.
To be honest, I had never touched Oils until then.

Oil dries very slow and through my previous commercial Artist life in Japan, Oil was not the medium I could use for my works there where I was always pressed with heavy daily deadlines.
But as an Artist, since I was in Japan, I had always wanted to paint Oil because I have believed that Oil was the basic of the Paintings.

What I have loved in Oil is, in its slow dry process, Oil gives me plenty of time to communicate with my canvas. It gives me time to think as much as I need.
I feel Oil is very flexible medium.

Also, unlike acrylics, which turns plastic as soon as they dry, each color layers of Oil change their face in the process to dry. Depend on how you produce and how you maintain, they get delicate influence from there. Getting ages, they can be more beautiful or they can get cracked. It makes me feel as if they were alive and they were holding the breaths of Artists between their color layers.


emotion, beautiful oil painting, art, surrealism,fine art, hiroko sakai, spiritual, inspiring painting, inspiring art, cool art, sky, angel, feather, door, rainbow, sun flower, fine day, fantasy painting, angel painting, loveLife as an Artist is something of a struggle between the faith to our real Artistic calling and the need to create the money to pay the next month rent.
Different from the commercial Artists which I used to be, the market changed to the individual people, and the rewards are 5 to 10 times lower, since the money come from people’s pocket, not the big companies’ business budgets.
However, here, I can eventually work for my own creation.

Good or bad, now I have plenty of time to face to my own inspirations without worrying about next morning deadlines.

After getting this life, I would never want to get back to the life where I had to create the Artworks like a machine, only for clients’ needs.
I got realized that to modify my Art to suit the market is no longer my original creation. It makes me one of a crafts people, but not an Artist.
But here, what I paint… They are my own creations. I could live forever in my Artworks.


Well, this is my story.
I hope there were something you feel connection with.

As you are, I am also a survivor who has still been struggling on the pass to keep working toward my dream and future.
But how hard to get by the life for now, I believe that my life is the one of the most blessed lives in the world. It is because I have found what I am meant to do on this Earth and what I want to do from now on.
As long as I am an Artist, I can never fail my life.

Whatever your dreams are, as long as you keep working toward them, you can not fail until you give up. There would be a lot of traps waiting for you in the way, which give you disappointments and doubts. But as long as you keep going, all of them would tune just the paths of the process to reach your dream eventually.

emotion, beautiful oil painting, art, surrealism,fine art, hiroko sakai, spiritual, inspiring painting, inspiring art, cool art, funny painting, munch, screem, ocean, floating, easel, boat, still painting, funny painting, humorous painting, artist, painting in oceanThere is no storm which dose not get over. After the storm gone, fine day comes again.

Time is always going. You have tomorrow and you have the day in next year.
Even when you get something to get stuck in, as long as you keep going, time will solve your problem.

Once I had lost everything and restarted my life with nothing in far away strange country totally alone, being a beginner single mom in the bargain.
10 years after, here I am.
Every each years, I feel my life has been getting better and better.

I can do it,
then why can’t you?

You can do it.


Finally, I want to share my most favorite word with you.

"Today is the first day of the rest of your life"

Thank you for listening.


Got Art?
☞ Check out Hiroko Sakai Original Oil Paintings, Art Prints and more!
☞ Hiroko’s Original Artwork for Sale Online by Artist


” Artist lives forever… “


"Me and my head high and my tears dry
Get on without my guy
You went back to what you knew so far removed
from all that we went through
And I tread a troubled track, my odds are stacked
I’ll go back to black… "


Emy Winehouse has gone only after one month of this stage.
July 23rd 2011, God’s taken this fragile gift back from this world holding her broken wings.

How come nobody took her off from this puppet show? Her spirit was not there anymore, but being chained on the stage like a clown at the circus, only the hollow smiles were covering her screams which was being hidden in the deep bottom of her soul.
Watching her last stage makes me get overwhelmed to tears, feeling the same conflicts that I am holding in myself, … the conflict which most artists may have to face for our over keen inspirations living this life.

hiroko sakai, oil painting, life, skyscraper, bird, rope walking, inspiring art, angel, feather, eye painting, surreal art, cool artI’ve been always wondering…
People say "I love Artists"…
But what they really know about Artists?
They’ve ever thought about sharing this real madness with us which could actually be the source of the inspirations for our creations which are appreciated by them?
Time to time, I feel myself like a tiger or something in a zoo that should be isolated from the world. People love to see what Artists create, but it is the different story if they really like to invite what is behind on the Art into their actual lives.

To survive in a social life, holding those extreme emotional bombs inside of the soul, Artists must lean how to hide the screams under peaceful smiles. In between those hypocrisy and faith in own emotional demands, something starts eating the balance of our mind…
Winehouse was one of the purest soul of Artist’s who denied those hypocrisy. She chose burning herself up following to the naked revelation in her spirit.

This song "I Heard Love Is Blind" brought me some kind of shocks.

‘How can I put it so you understand?
I didn’t let him hold my hand.
But he looked like you; I guess he looked like you …
No he wasn’t you.
But you can still trust me, this ain’t infidelity.
It’s not cheating; you were on my mind…’



At first, I laughed with this incoherent logic in her, but then, I found myself feeling jealousy toward her exposing such a pure voice so boldly. It made me wondered if I ever could paint such a real voice in me out on my canvas so honestly…

I am very sorry that she had to leave this life so quick.
But you know what the privilege of Artists is?
We Artists live forever in this world beyond the time as long as our creations keep living in people’s hearts.

Winehouse will never die in our hearts…


Winehouse said "Love is a Losing Game"
Yes, I can not deny it now, just getting through there.
(If you are not on my Facebook fan page, check my previous blog "Hannya and Love")

But I want to paint more sweet side of love.. someday again…




Got Art?
☞ Check out Hiroko Sakai Original Oil Paintings, Art Prints and more!
☞ Hiroko’s Original Artwork for Sale Online by Artist


” Interview from Maria B. Villa “


Writer: Maria B. Villa
Original URL : http://mariabyoga.blogspot.com/


Interview with Hiroko Sakai

This artist´s vision gives us account of how many possibilities we have as human beings to transform our lives consciously so that we can liberate ourselves from the obstacles we experience on a daily basis. Hiroko Sakai opens her heart and soul in this interview to share her inner battles by which she has evolved as an artist. The deepness and honesty of her words, as well as her paintings, are subjects of great worship.


MB: Where were you born?

HS: I was born in a small town of northern Kyushu island of Japan.

MB: When did you start painting?

HS: It seems to me like I´ve been painting and drawing since my first breath. My school notebooks were filled with drawings.

MB: What are your major influences?

HS: My parents, they were great patrons of cultures and art in Japan, that´s why I had so many opportunities to grow artistically.

MB: What relationship can you establish between your paintings and peace of mind, body, and spirit?

zen painting, buddhism painting, mercy face, bosatsu painting, hiroko sakai, zen, asian painting, meditation, hiroko sakai fine art, miroku bosatsuHS: After having to go through many difficult experiences and after I started painting again, I became quieter and introverted but at the same time I started to reach deeper into my inner being. I am convinced that painting can make the spirit calmer, at least that´s what happens to me; the more I paint the calmer my spirit feels. I think that´s represented in my paintings.

MB: Can you tell us about an important personal experience that has marked your life and that it´s also reflected in your art?

HS: Yes, It all started several years ago when one day I suddenly got a heavy pain on my back, so I had to be taken to the hospital. The doctor said that a tumor, which size as a fist, was growing in my pelvis where the ovaries are located and that it was really difficult to check its position, he could not tell if it was benign or malignant until the surgery. If it was malignant, he said, I might not have any chance to live and even in the best case scenario I would lose my womb.

The hospital room where I was staying at was the room for cancer patients. Some ladies had already gone through surgery and some of them were waiting for their wombs to be taken out. Others were wearing scarves on their heads to hide their hair loss. That was all very shocking to me therefore I was losing all the hope left in my life. But on the other hand, I was fortunate enough to take some time to pause and look at my life, and realized that I had kept myself running all the time. It gave me some time to think deeply about my life and to see where I was standing and doing with it.

Fortunately, my tumor was benign. Thanks to GOD, I am still here to meet you today. Anyway, getting through this experience has made my artwork deep and focused; now I have time to think about my life again, which used to be so hectic. It was truly a gift from God that I could change my life for the better.

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MB: Describe your process of healing through art. Do you think that painting can provide you with good health?

HS: Yes, I really agree so. First, after a long blank, I started drawing which helped me to sweep out all the emotions stuck in my soul. There were no colors during that difficult time. Then red came back… and blue came next. One by one, colors slowly came back on my canvas. Looking at that pattern I should say that this was my art healing process.

I had not thought about such things so intensely before but as I got through them I could see that Art has some power to heal and balance our mental state.

The creation process can bring up good and healthy feelings of achievement. Also, expressing our own originality into actual visible figures can reassure our own existence. It is like communicating with the outside world using what I have deep inside naturally.

When I got back all the colors in my drawings, I decided to start with oil painting. To be honest, I had never touched oils until then.Oil dries very slowly and in my previous job with commercial art in Japan I couldn´t use it because I was always pressed with heavy deadlines. But as an artist I´ve always wanted to paint with oil because I’ve always believed that oil is the basis of painting. And it is precisely the slow dry process of oil that attracts me the most as it gives me plenty of time to communicate with my canvas. It gives me time to think as much as I need.

MB: Is life and death a recurrent theme in your works?

zen painting, spiritual painting, butter fly, buddhism art, hand, god, rebirth, life, karma, new journeyHS: Life and death can be one of the themes in my paintings. But basically, that is not the only theme of my art. My inspiration is my own life, what I see, feel, read, and think…. every day. So many themes can be brought up as I am living and feeling every minute.

But in a sense, you might be right. I think about life and death a lot in my life, it might be because I am Japanese and was raised into the philosophy of Buddhism. In Japan, most of the people do not practice Buddhism as a religion anymore (I think), but still Buddhism has a big influence on Japanese people and teaches them to learn how to live, appreciation and humbleness, and harmony towards other people. One of my biggest influence is how Japanese think about life and death. It’s really hard to explain it in English, but Japanese have the belief of "Rinne Tensho", which means life repeats. The body is just a carriage of your spirit in this life, the spirit lives forever and from time to time. Our spirits are sent to this world to learn and get trained, and afterwards it goes back to heaven again, death is just the expiration of the physical body.
I keep that as a constant reminder, in a sense birth is the start and death is also the start of life. I’m so much interested in this process of life and death, and I’m also very curious of what would happen next, when my body expires.

MB: In your webpage you talk about how hard it was for you to move to North America, about being in exile. Can you elaborate a little bit more about that? And in what way is that represented in your artwork?

HS: What brought me to San Francisco was my marriage 11 years ago, after that I became a single mother and a struggling artist. I got married to an American man (half Japanese) who gave me extremely warm support and encouragement when I was hospitalized. After getting married, he went back to the US because he had to arrange his American life so he could move to Japan to live with me. But he did not come back for months. During that time, I found out I was pregnant and to make a long story short, it was me who had to move to the US. My new life in a far away country had started with a big belly, a difficult language, and domestic violence. I found help at an Asian Woman’s shelter in San Francisco.

life painting, hiroko sakai, rope walking, feather, angel, bird, skyscraper painting, eye painting, emotion, cool paintingI had lost everything, my studio, my career, I had spent all my savings on moving expenses and compensation for my staff (months of salaries and equipment lease…). Anyway, now I believe that it was worth the lesson.Before I came to America, I was such a naive and silly girl. Then I got a chance to survive in San Francisco for almost 10 years. I am pretty happy with the strength that I´ve developed over the years as I learned to get over the hell I was living. To keep custody of my daughter, I couldn´t leave California until she became 18. But I finally got my life back, I’m quite satisfied of what I have done and what I am working on, and also my future possibilities here. I believe that now I’m headed in the right direction toward my success.
Those experiences lead me to obtain the “strength" and "independence" evident in my art. As you are one, I am also a survivor who is still struggling on the pass to keep working towards my dreams and future. I believe that my life is one of the most blessed lives in the world because I have found what I am meant to do on this Earth and what I want to do from now on. As long as I am an Artist, I can never fail my life.

Whatever your dreams are, as long as you keep working towards them, you cannot fail. There might be a lot of traps waiting for you in the way, which would disappoint you and generate doubts but as long as you keep going, all of them would tune up to reach your goals eventually. There is no storm which does not get over. After the storm is gone, a beautiful day will come again.

San Francisco, with its vibrant arts and culture, became my second home and was a source of much inspiration. For a while, I felt disadvantaged because I was a foreigner learning a second language. Now I know that my differences are also my strengths and I can combine my Japanese and American background to produce a powerful and unique art work.

artist, artist painting, hiroko sakai, masks, mask painting, cool painting, funny painting, noh maskMB: What are some of the most important philosophical concerns for you as an artist?

HS: My philosophical concerns as an artist…. hum. I have never thought about those kinds of things. It is so natural for me to live as an artist, so when I paint I do not think so much about complicated things… I just let out what I have inside and spread it on my canvas. If there is something you feel from my art that would be my philosophy.

MB: Does your work fill your needs as an artist but also the needs of our time and the contemporary art scene?

HS: Honestly, I do not know the answer for this question yet. I just started my new career in San Francisco as an oil painter only 5 years ago, I changed my career from a commercial artist in Japan, so I need much more time to find out where my art is going to. Actually, I’m at the beginning of changing my art marketing views, until now I had worked on my art marketing in a very traditional way, just repeating gallery submissions. I realized that in this huge competition of artists, it´s like throwing stones in the ocean. Especially because the galleries like art that sells, the kind of art which would go well at rich people house walls, sorry I am a bit mean, ha ha. But I consider that my art is not part of a wall paper. Have you watched the movie “Tea with Mussolini’? I do not remember it exactly, but I think in the movie, there was a scene where the heroine is talking with paintings in a room specially made for them, she was owning paintings like her inspiring books, soul mates to talk to….I want my art to be adopted by that kind of people, by those who are sensible to it, not the people who are just looking for expensive wall decorations.

A great friend named Eric, who´s also an artist, once told me: My father used to say: "know your market and talk to them directly¨. You can ignore the galleries that are scared of your stuff, their reaction is understandable. They are selling pictures that are supposed to fade away behind the beige sofa into oblivion, and match the wall color. They select art to help buyers disguise the anguish they feel, the longing, the emptiness, not to reveal it and display it. You are a bomb waiting to explode. But instead of killing people, your bomb will liberate them. Your art will free them from their shame, their guilt, their fear of discovery. You have to find the people who want to use your art for personal liberation, or to shock people so that they stop and stare. Forget the decorators looking for beige. You shock people in San Francisco! Where people come from all over the world to get laid! People flock here for sexual freedom, which is what you offer them in an instant of recognition. People looking at your art either stand transfixed or run away as fast as they can. You will have no market in between unless you change your style.


Thank you, Maria!

If you are interested in "Hiroko’s Path", you can learn more here.
” A life path why I’ve ended up to be in San Francisco “

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