Tom And Chikara 1
Artist Feature

Wed, Jul 08, 2020

Journey to Hokusai: Artist Q&A

Sitting in front of their screens on a Thursday Night, over 200 people distantly gathered on a Zoom Call with the MAH to watch a Free Film Screening of Journey to Hokusai. This film, created by Chikara Motomura, follows Tom Killion’s journey to Japan to finally learn the traditional technique from Kenji Takenaka– a 5th generation printer in Kyoto.

Tom & Chikara joined the event to share a bit about themselves with all who were watching and afterward answered questions from MAH Members. For all who joined, it was a special experience and we wanted to follow up to share a bit more about the film, about the creators, and how to watch it on your own (again or for the first time).

About the Film

Past exhibiting artist Tom Killion has long held a dream – to go to Japan and learn a traditional method of printing by hand. Deeply touched by the artist Hokusai’s prints when he was a child, Tom has for almost 50 years successfully created iconic California landscape prints. This film, created by Chikara Motomura, follows Tom’s journey to Japan to finally learn the traditional technique from Kenji Takenaka-- a 5th generation printer in Kyoto.

Watch the Trailer

Journey to Hokusai from Chikara Motomura on Vimeo.

How to Watch

If you'd love to watch the film or share with friends, it is available to stream here on Chikara's Motomura's website.

You can also see more of Tom's prints here or if you'd like to reminisce on his previous exhibit at the MAH, you can view that here on our website.

Meet the Artists

Journey To Hokusai Chikara Motomura

Producer, Director, Cinematographer, and Editor

Chikara Motomura

Read Bio
Tom In Tokyo 1

Artist, Printmaker

Tom Killion

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Artist Q&A

Interview with Chikara Motomura and Tom Killion

How did this Journey to Hokusai film project come up?

CHIKARA: Tom told me that he always wanted to go to Japan and take a workshop to learn the traditional hand printing technique. At that time, I didn’t think about turning it into a film project. But a year later, it dawned on me that it could be a good story. When I approached Tom if he’s into it, he said yes.

Do you still practice the process you learned in Japan?

TOM: I always have done traditional Japanese block carving, and some aspects of the hand printing process I learned in the film I have incorporated into current prints.

How did race and culture play a part in learning from Japanese masters?

TOM: I have spent a lot of my life studying the history of non-Western cultures and have lived outside the US quite a bit. I have been fascinated with east asian landscape art since I was a child, and started trying to do something like Japanese woodcut prints when I was a teenager. I also did a PhD in African History and for many years worked in Africa in refugee camps and as a teacher, and taught African history & culture during much of the 1990s.

What projects are you working on next?

TOM: If you follow me on Instagram at @tomkillion you will be able to see my latest projects. Or you can check out to see how I make the prints, you can view all my work, and you can sign up for my email list.

CHIKARA: I had a plan to go to Japan this April to start filming for the next project but had to postpone due to the pandemic. I want to delve deeper into the world of Kyoto cuisine, its artistic qualities, and how different Japanese traditional art forms share certain foundations, both aesthetic and spiritual.

Anything else you want to share?

CHIKARA: There are so many traditional arts/crafts in Japan that are slowly dying because there is less demand for them and it’s hard to make a living for the artists/craftspeople. They can’t attract young people to keep them alive.