Tomihiro Hoshino was an experienced 24-year-old gymnastics teacher with a real passion for the sport. An active mountain climber and gymnastics instructor, his life changed completely as he was demonstrating a double somersault technique to a group of junior high school students. Hoshino unfortunately injured his neck during the maneuver and since that day he has been completely paralyzed from the neck down.
The accident was a serious blow to this extremely active person who was forced to lay motionless for nine years in a Gunma orthopedic Hospital where he was kept under heavy surveillance for respiratory problems and complications as a result of the injury. He and his family never gave up hope that his physical condition would stabilize and improve. Although it took nine years, and he came close to death many times, there was always hope for the future.
Many say that this hope came two years after his accident. In 1972 one of the patients that had stayed in the same room as Tomihiro Hoshino was being transferred into a different hospital. He asked that the staff, as well as all of the people that stayed with him, to sign a card as a memento of his time in the hospital. Tomihiro couldn’t come up with a solution as to how he would be able to sign his name for the man but with the help of his mother he was able to hold a pen in his mouth and eventually sign Tomo. This would be the beginning of how Tomihiro would begin his career in writing and painting.
The second event that produced real inspiration for Tomihiro Hoshino was a time that a friend brought him flowers and left them in the window. He was transfixed by these flowers and actually felt closer to God and the universe by seeing their beauty every day. Whenever he needed help he would gaze at the flowers and feel real beauty and Joy even though his life had been filled with extreme sadness through the past few years.
Inspired by the flowers, he was moved to start expressing what they meant to him. He began to gradually draw flowers and eventually became an adept painter with his mouth. He continued to hone his skills and grow religious in the process. In 1974 he was officially baptized and in the same year had created enough artwork to actually produce a gallery sized exhibition.
The gallery premiered in his hometown of Maebashi, Gunma prefecture, and just four months later he was able to leave the hospital. Although he still has to live with his paralysis he continues to paint with his mouth and he is now a happily married man. Tomihiro Hoshino has successfully produced hundreds of pieces of artwork, many of his essays and poems have been published and his work is displayed in permanent exhibitions at the Tomihiro Hoshino Museum. People come from all over the world to see his artwork and it’s regularly lent into some of the most prestigious galleries internationally. He has had his poetry set to music and much of his artwork and essays have been adapted for Japanese television as well.
Although he has had an impressive amount of success since his accident he expresses great modesty. He hopes that his pictures, his art and his writing will stand for themselves, and not simply as something loved as a result of admiration or sympathy for his disability.
If it weren’t for his disability Tomihiro Hoshino would probably not have found his incredible talent for artwork and writing. It just goes to show that with great hope and determination you can find new strengths.
Image from Amazon.co.jp.