Painter Ikuo Hirayama makes donation to Hiroshima Prefecture prior to his death

by Aya Kano, Staff Writer

On February 12, it was learned that the late Ikuo Hirayama, a Japanese painter and a native of Setoda Town in the city of Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture, made a donation to Hiroshima Prefecture through the hometown tax system last November, just prior to his death. With the donation, Hiroshima Prefecture will open a "Setouchi Drawing Class" and pass on the fascination of the Seto Inland Sea, which fostered Mr. Hirayama's sense of beauty, to the next generation.

It is said that Mr. Hirayama readily agreed to make the donation when the prefecture introduced the hometown tax system to him last October. Mr. Hirayama wrote such messages as "The environment of my hometown, which is rich in natural beauty, fostered my sense of beauty" and "I think it significant that the donation will be used for the sound growth of young people."

Mr. Hirayama, a leading figure of the Japanese art world, devoted himself to preservation activities for cultural assets of the world, including the Angkor ruins in Cambodia. He became an honorary resident of Hiroshima Prefecture in 1998.

As a student of the former Hiroshima Shudo Junior High School, Mr. Hirayama experienced the atomic bombing at a site where he was mobilized for the war effort. His hope was expressed in his message given to the prefecture at the time of his donation: "We must never let the tragedy of August 6, 1945 happen again. I hope that the prefecture will use the donation in a meaningful way, partly in order to foster individuals who can convey this appeal to the world."

In line with Mr. Hirayama's wishes, the amount of the donation will not be disclosed. Mr. Hirayama had requested, in fact, that the donation itself remain anonymous, but his bereaved family agreed to make the announcement after Mr. Hirayama passed away.

Hiroshima Prefecture will add the donation to the "Hiroshima Prefectural Fund for Children's Dreams" and open a drawing class for parents and children to draw the beauty of the Seto Inland Sea with its many islands as early as this fall. A professional painter will teach drawing to 40 participants, or 20 pairs consisting of an elementary school student and his or her guardian in Hiroshima Prefecture. Their works will then be exhibited at the Hiroshima Prefectural Art Museum in downtown Hiroshima. Hiroshima Prefecture will also use these works in its tourism campaigns.

(Originally published on February 13, 2010)

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