About the Pen-tomo Project

The pen-tomoproject started with the hope of finding people who are currently living in Japan but have their roots overseas. This projectis inspired by the ways in which pen friends communicate with each other. Pen friends are people who may not have met in person and/or have different cultural backgrounds, but who are developing mutual understanding through exchanging letters, sometimes across the seas. The process of cultivating such friendships can create possibilities for the participants to closely imagine each other’s lives. From this viewpoint, we are proceeding with the pen-tomo project.

This project has been launched by artist Haji Oh upon receiving an invitation from the nonprofit organization, Artfull-action (Arts and Culture Promotion Plan Promotion Business, Koganei-shi). 

In the Pen-tomo Project phase 1, “Correspondence– Depicting Our Imaginary Landscapes,”four women living in Japan who were originally from Thailand, Hong Kong, China and Peru (of Japanese descent) participatedas pen friends. Since February 2020, they have exchanged letters with Haji Oh about the memories of their grandmothers. 

We are now in phase 2, “Grandmother’s Life, Tracing the Passage of Memories,” in which we pass on the notebooks made, based on the materials gathered in phase 1 of the project. 

We are currently looking for participants who are interested in writing about memories of their grandmother’s lifein the notebooks. 

September 2020