The story behind how the Tomihiro Art Museum began includes both tragedy and inspiration. Tomihiro Hoshino hails from Maebashi, the capital of Gunma Prefecture, and worked enthusiastically as a gymnastics coach until the unthinkable happened when he was 24 years old. Tomihiro was demonstrating how to perform a vaulting move to his students and injured himself so severely that it resulted in neck-down paralysis and an almost decade-long hospital stay.
In such life-altering circumstances, even the most everyday tasks became extremely challenging. During his hospital stay, Tomihiro had to do things like signing his name by holding a pen in his mouth, which then extended to holding a paintbrush in his mouth to create artwork - something he'd never done before.
In 1991 the Tomihiro Art Museum was opened and displays a variety of his art, which draws inspiration from nature and the seasons. Many pieces are also accompanied by poetry written by Tomihiro himself. Almost 7 million guests have visited the museum, including the likes of Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako.
The museum building is often regarded as being just as incredible as the art on display. Sitting on the banks of the Watarase River, the premises is comprised of small, circular buildings, inspired by soap bubbles. There's also a picturesque on-site cafe serving up tea, coffee, and homemade bread.
Despite the adversity that Tomihiro Hoshino faced after his accident, the museum is a reminder that beauty can be found or created in the most difficult of situations.