[dropcap size=small]D[/dropcap]isregarding naysayers and overcoming many frustrations, Shoko Kanazawa pushed past the limitations presented by Down Syndrome to pursue her interest in traditional calligraphy, beginning age 5.

Now 31, she runs her own calligraphy school, has given a speech at the United Nations headquarters, and one of her transcribed pieces has earned the status of monument in Japan.

The young Kanazawa was instructed in the art by her calligrapher mother, Yasuko Kanazawa, who eventually realised that her daughter’s works struck a major chord with members of the public, and that Shoko could earn a living from practicing and performing the craft.

A proud senior Kanazawa said in an interview with The Straits Times: “Whatever calligraphy she does, how much money she earns doesn’t help me. She has to live on her own after I’m gone. Her independence is my greatest accomplishment.”

The mother-daughter duo recently visited Singapore to perform at an SJ50 event at Paragon Shopping Centre – the prelude to a charity gala organised by AdPlanet to commemorate 50 years of bilateral ties between Singapore and Japan.

Here the young Kanazawa skilfully put her hefty brush to use and wrote two characters: ‘light’ and ‘morality’  in an impressive display of control and artistry. Among the onlookers was guest-of-honour Tan Chuan-Jin, Singapore’s Minister for Social and Family Development.


She went on to pen a few more throughout her stay in Singapore, with two of her pieces framed and presented to Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan and Japanese Ambassador to Singapore Kenji Shinoda.

From left: Minister for Social & Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin, acclaimed pianist with hearing disability Azariah Tan, and celibrated Down Syndrome calligrapher Shoko Kanazawa.