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Interview with Masao Uemura

The calligraphy and painting exhibition "MALOWD" started at chignitta space on February 4. We have compiled the text of the gallery talk with Mr. Uemura. It is a heartwarming interview that shows the personality of Mr. Uemura, a calligrapher and the owner of the bar "MALOWD". Please enjoy the video as well.


Masao Uemura

Influenced by her grandmother who was a calligraphy teacher, she grew up in an environment where she was familiar with ink.
When she was in high school, she learned to enjoy writing even more and continued to draw on her own.
When the Corona disaster struck, she decided to learn calligraphy from scratch.
After the Corona disaster, she decided to start learning calligraphy from scratch, and studied under a calligrapher she had admired for a long time, Mr. Koshozai.

In 2021, he drew the logo for the new product "Ryuno Beard" of Zuihoken, an old shop in Kameyama, Ise, which has been in business since the late Edo period. In addition to his calligraphy, he usually explores music that goes well with alcohol and alcohol that goes well with music at his store "Bar MALOWD". Bar MALOWD


The talk event

Thank you very much for coming to today's exhibition of calligraphy by Masao Uemura, "Hakuto".

Since this is the opening of Mr. Uemura's first solo exhibition, I was planning to have Mr. Uemura, who usually works as the master of the bar “Malowd" in Horie, run a "traveling bar" here today, making drinks and having you all enjoy drinking and feeling big before purchasing his works. But I couldn't do that anymore. I was also planning to ask Mr. Uemura to advertise the exhibition with a flyer to the customers during the night at "Malowd", but that didn't happen either. Laughter. I've had to overcome a lot of obstacles to get to where I am today. Even so, I'm very grateful to so many people for coming today.

As I was thinking about where to start, I realized that I've never met Mr. Uemura in a bright place before. Laughter. We usually meet him only as "Malowd", and this time, I asked him about the exhibition over the counter of the bar in a drunken stupor, so I'm sure you know more about Mr. Uemura than we do, since some of you have known him longer than we have. But first of all, where was he born and how did he become the owner of the bar "Malowd"? If you could start by telling us about that.

Uemura: I was originally born in a place called Kosaka in Higashi Osaka, and I still live there. I have been living there for more than 40 years. I used to work as a salesman for a shoe store. While I was working as a company employee, I started a bar next to the place where the current "Malowd" is located. It was a legendary restaurant called "Barbes" and Mr. Hoshi, the owner of the restaurant, was one of our customers. When "Barbes" was moving to a new location, he said, "Well, I'll take over the bar," so I rented the place without any plan and started the bar without any training. Thankfully, I've been here for 17 years now, and I think it was fate that brought me here, and I've just followed it my whole life.

Barbes"...there it is. That small restaurant. Everyone was completely drunk, and the graf guys used to come every night. Barbes was also the terminal of Horie, wasn't it?

Uemura: The interior was designed by Hattori, right? Yocchan, who was EGO WRAPPIN, would come alone. It was one of the biggest things for me to work there. It was here that I got married, and I think the place called me. While working as a shoe salesman, I thought it would be nice to open my own store someday, but I think I would have gone out of business if I had been working as an office worker. I started it for the sole reason that I liked bars.

bar "MALOWD"

Both you and I went to “Malowd" many times and drank a lot, but the drinks are really good, aren't they?

Sasanuki: When I entered the bar, I had a strange uplifting feeling, it was quiet and the distance from the customers was great.

Where did you get your bar training?

Uemura: I didn't have any training. Thankfully, my mentors are still working hard, so all I did was go and drink with them and learn from them.

Also, Mr. Uemura, your glasses are impressive, just like the ones on the counter. They are thick and heavy. I heard that your family owns a glasses shop.

Uemura: Yes. My family owns a glasses shop. My father happened to be related to Mr. Ryotaro Shiba, and he used to make his glasses. When I was little, I always thought there was an old man with gray hair coming to the store, but it turned out to be Mr. Shiba.I still have Mr. Shiba's glasses at home.

Calligraphy exhibition “Malowd"

Let's talk about Mr. Uemura and calligraphy. At first, I was always interested in the wonderful menu and calligraphy in the store. How did your calligraphy career, or rather your calligraphy, come to be connected with you?

Uemura: Originally, my grandmother was a calligraphy teacher. However, my grandmother was in Shinshu, and when she came home for New Year's, we would write the first day of the year together, but now that I think about it, I have always loved beautiful handwriting. After that, my teacher in high school had very beautiful handwriting, and I tried to learn how to write beautifully by imitating her. That may have been the beginning of my interest in calligraphy.The reason why I started writing the way I do now is because the pandemic hit and the store was closed, so I had nothing to do, so I asked my calligraphy teacher to teach me again. I had nothing to do, so I asked my calligraphy teacher again to teach me how to write properly.

Did you go to a calligraphy class?

Uemura: It was a correspondence course. The subjects were written on hanji paper and sent to me by mail. I would send back what I had written, and they would send me back something written in red pen. It's a classic style. The corrections I get back are very unique, and I don't get many corrections. But when I followed his example, he would say, "That's not right. He taught me to write until my own handwriting came out. He taught me to write until my own handwriting came out. He would come back to me with a little bit of the essence written in red letters, and it would really sink in.

Even though you have had a background in calligraphy since you were a child, was there a moment when you really learned calligraphy, and as you were writing, you realized that this was the kind of calligraphy you wanted to do?

Uemura: When I write a piece of work and send it to you, there are some things that I can write surprisingly quickly, and there are some subjects that are difficult to write at all. I think that the more difficult the work is, the more it becomes my own. For example, I would never have been able to write the character "Chisoku" in the past. The more I write, the more interesting it becomes.


Uemura: The other day, I was asked to write the logo for a new product of a confectionery shop. It was called "Dragon's Beard," and I liked the characters, but I couldn't write them at all. Even so, I felt that the more I wrote, the more connected I became.

How many sheets did you write?

Uemura: For the "Dragon's Beard" logo, I think I wrote 5 or 600 pages. (Wow!) The more I wrote, the more I started to lose track. The more I wrote, the less I knew. I've been writing while drinking since then. Laughs

Sasanuki: I've been following your Instagram for a while now, and I've been seeing your calligraphy every day, and I've been thinking how wonderful it is.

I feel that even the ordinary words I use in my daily life come to me as new words when I see them. Also, the captions on the books are gentle and convey a natural feeling. I think it's wonderful.

Dragon's Beard" logo design written by Mr. Uemura.

I like the small letters. Most "calligraphy and painting exhibitions" are dynamic, right? But your calligraphy has the quality of a small voice speaking to the viewer, like a rakugo master's pillow.

Uemura: The conclusion is that I wrote a lot of calligraphy and settled on the current style, but the sense of space in my teacher's calligraphy is amazing. There is not a single waste. Also, now that I look at it, I think that the signature created a sense of atmosphere. For example, in the work “Kogarashi" shown here, I think the characters want to go there.


In terms of the signature, you said that you were given a gagyo by your teacher. Could you tell us about the gagos?

Uemura: I didn't know much about gagos, but my teacher gave me a name for it. My teacher named me "Hakuhyo," which means "white ice," because he wanted me to reflect the life of nature in my calligraphy, as he said, "In winter, it freezes, and in summer, it turns into water.


Mr. Uemura, your calligraphy has a musical background, as do your songs “Kassai” “Fuyu no Riviera" and "Shiosai," but what is the music that attracts you the most?

Uemura: Naomi Chiaki. I listen to her the most. Takashi Matsumoto's lyrics are also wonderful.

I asked Mr. Uemura to choose the music for the exhibition, and when it was playing, I thought I was in “Malowd

Uemura: Enka is also played. Laughs

Yesterday, I was listening to the song “ Fuyu no Riviera" playing. I was struck by the lyrics, "One button on my leather coat is about to fall off, and it doesn't look good. I couldn't get enough of it. It made me think again that there are no songs like this anymore.

Uemura: This is the kind of music from the days when there were professional lyricists. The way it is conveyed is completely different.

I also think it's wonderful that at “Malowd," the favorite song of a previous customer is quickly played.I think it's a great way of doing calligraphy and bar through music.

One of the people who made a big impression on me was Mr. Junzo Ogawa, who joined us today as a DJ. Junzo-san, you are a guest every night, right? lol. Junzo, I would like you to talk with Mr. Uemura about the appeal of "Malowd".

OGAWA: I used to be a DJ only for house and rock music, but I went to Malowd and was influenced a lot by Ue-chan. The best is enka. I had never listened to this genre before, but when I asked Uemura-san, "Why do you listen to enka like this? he said, "My father always played it in the car, and that's how I came to like it. When I asked Mr. Uemura, "Why do you listen to enka like this? I think I learned a lot from him.

When I was DJing today, Mr. Taniguchi said to me, "Your music selection sounds like something that would be played on AM on a Sunday afternoon. When I play records like this while looking at Ue-chan's calligraphy, I realize that words are everything. I can tell at a glance that the calligraphy is emotional or derived from the music, and I can understand the meaning of the words because of my relationship with Ue-chan. It's only because I've been in touch with her that I can understand what she means.

miharu-chan is also here today as a DJ, and she is one of the young city pop DJs who frequents "Malowd.

miharu : "Malowd" is a cool place, and it has broadened the scope of the music I like, and made me feel glad that I believe in music. I'm glad that I believe in music. At the store, people nod their heads to the songs I play, there are people nearby who deeply sympathize with me, and I've been able to expand my friendships and learn a lot from them. Malowd is a place where I can grow.

Music is great! Laughs.

Uemura: I'd like to have a cup of highball. Laughs

DJ Junzo Ogawa (left), miharu (right), and Mr. Uemura (center) who enlivened the exhibition.


Sasanuki: There are some wonderful works in this exhibition that I can't fit into the space, so I'm putting them in a clear file on my desk. I like "Late Autumn". I also like "Chisoku" and “Rita. I think these words are perfect for the age of wind.

Uemura: I like “Rita" too. It was the first character I wrote.

How did you choose the words?

Uemura: When I'm thinking about what to write, there's a book next to me, and I just write the words I see. If I look it up and write it down, I feel like I'll look smug.

What about "I want to go to the park"?

Uemura: I wrote this one because I saw a message that a daughter wrote to her father on Mr. Furutani's (the well-known TANK bar master) SNS, and it was really wonderful. I wrote it because it was really wonderful. If a child writes, "I want to go to the park," you have to take her there, right? I hope I can convey even a little of that feeling.

The next door neighbor, "Mokusai-no-oi," is another example. It smells like coming home from cram school, doesn't it?

Uemura: It's the smell of the Chinese fragrant olive that comes in a breeze. Smell is good, isn't it?


It is a collection of such gentle words. In order to frame it, it will be lined with half paper and framed. You can also request your favorite words to be written on them. The other day, Mr. Uchida from the Jameson Bar came and asked me for a request. It's "Whiskey. He said he would display it as a nameplate. Mr. Uchida, could you give us a few words?

Uchida: I've known Mr. Kamimura and Mr. Taniguchi for a long time, but last year nothing good happened at Corona, so I think it's thanks to Corona that they got together and held this event.

Thank you very much. I'm really starting to want to drink. lol. The exhibition will be open until the 23rd, but if Corona ever opens, I'd like to have a bar here as well. Thank you very much for your time today. (Applause)

Written at the request of Mr. Uchida, the owner of the Jameson Bar, "Whiskey.

During the exhibition period, Mr. Uemura is writing calligraphy like this in the gallery.


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