800 people attend memorial gathering in painter Ikuo Hirayama’s hometown

by Kenji Ishida, Staff Writer

On February 13, a memorial gathering for the late Ikuo Hirayama, a Japanese painter who passed away last December at the age of 79, was held at the Bell Canto Hall in his hometown of Setoda Town, the city of Onomichi, Hiroshima Prefecture. Roughly 800 people from the local area and across Japan, including admirers of the artist, attended the gathering and offered flowers.

At the altar decorated with white flowers, a photo of Mr. Hirayama with a placid expression and folding screens with digitally replicated works by Mr. Hirayama were placed. His Order of Cultural Merit was also placed on the altar. After offering a silent prayer, a 12-minute memorial DVD featuring Mr. Hirayama's painting work and his efforts to preserve cultural assets in the world was shown to the participants.

Onomichi Mayor Yuhkoh Hiratani, who served as chair of the gathering's executive committee, bade farewell to Mr. Hirayama, saying, "We are proud that this extraordinary artist was born in our city. His great achievements will be passed down for many years from generation to generation." Kazuyuki Kawamoto, president of the Chugoku Shimbun, extended his farewell wishes, saying, "Thank you for your consideration for children who will create the art world of the future and for your affection toward Hiroshima."

Ren Hirayama, 53, Mr. Hirayama's eldest son, shared an episode that showed his father's fondness for boxing and spoke words of gratitude.

While a piece on the theme of the Silk Road was performed by musicians, the participants formed long lines to offer flowers.

(Originally published on February 14, 2010)

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