Takashi Tanemori is one of the few survivors of the August 6, 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima. He lost both of his parents and two sisters to the effects of that weapon, and became an Oyanashigo – a street urchin – who struggled to stay alive by searching waste sites and garbage cans for food, in the ashes of postwar Japan.
Bound by his oath to avenge his father’s death, Takashi spent eight angry years of dishonor and despair, and even attempted suicide. When he turned eighteen, he immigrated to the United States, where he suffered physical and emotional cruelty working in California's 'salad bowl' and as a captive patient in the state's psychiatric system. But a nurse took personal interest in caring for Takashi, became his guardian, and sparked the young man to pursue a life serving others through Christianity.
Takashi studied to become a Christian minister, and worked with several churches in the course of two decades, between 1968 and 1979, as a spiritual guide and a builder of congregations. Yet, despite successes, Takashi was unable to conquer prejudice in his congregations. Turning to reach the hearts of Americans through their stomachs, Takashi created a restaurant to support his family, but that struggle led to severe health challenges and again brought need to change the direction of his life.
While crossing the San Francisco Bay Bridge one morning in the summer of 1985, Takashi had an epiphany, which led him to reject his vow of revenge and instead devote himself to fostering forgiveness. He set a lifetime goal of helping future generations live in Heiwa - - peace, with harmony and equality.
Takashi is in his 70s and resides in Berkeley, California. He lives with his guide dog, Yuki, whose name in Japanese means “fallen snow on a moonlit night.” Takashi shares his life story through speaking engagements, writings, conflict resolution seminars, workshops on The Seven Codes of the Samurai (“Peace through Forgiveness”), his writing and artwork.
Takashi Tanemori's Current Activities
Takashi has visited many churches and schools, appeared at memorials honoring the victims of the atomic bombing, and has served as professional keynote speaker, Christian motivational speaker, and youth motivational speaker at conferences in the United States and overseas. He has special experience from having been an ordained minister, educator, lecturer, writer and inter-cultural consultant for US/Japan business developments in the Pacific Rim.
The book Hiroshima: Bridge to Forgiveness chronicles Takashi’s journey from childhood to adult, from Japan to America, from revenge to forgiveness. He is currently writing a portrayal of the Samurai codes his father taught him, and a compilation of his poetry.
Only deeply held beliefs are demonstrated through Takashi’s artwork, as shown in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima (2003) and Takasaki (2001) and at Bradbury Science Museum in Los Alamos, New Mexico (1999 – 2001). In 2008 he produced a commissioned eighty-piece series for exhibition during August at the Atomic Testing Site Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The style of Takashi’s art is an intuitive collection of collage in the media of water-colors, acrylics, magic markers, colored pencils, etchings, photos, cut-and-paste magazine pages, even origami. It is simply what Japanese call: “Garyu-shiki”, self-styled products made without formal training or art-education.
Poetry is also a way Takashi shares his heartbeat, his inner soul: “Poetry is like the wind, as it speaks sometimes softly, carrying the fragrance of the cherry blossom; it is sometimes a howling in the darkest night where countless stars were hiding, bearing pains and sorrows into the distance yonder; and there are times creating all the trees of the forest, clapping their branches for thanksgiving and dancing for joy!”
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