This expanding of Sun Tzu's Art of War can be found in various areas such as business, sports, politics, music, and art. Our classic can be applied by anyone anywhere in the world.
Today I want to stop by Ebisu, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan, where I want to feature an art piece based on Sun Tzu's Art of War. It is called 風林火山 or furinkazan (wind, forest, fire, mountain), a gorgeous work of calligraphy by Japanese artist Goroh Tagawa. With his permission, it is pictured at the top of this blog entry.
The characters shown in his artwork are:
Furinkazan are words from Sun Tzu of course, but also from a famous battle flag used by feudal Japanese warlord Takeda Shingen, an admirer of Sun Tzu.
Translated into English, the first part of the characters goes something like this:
"Therefore [the army] advances like the wind; it marches like the forest; it invades and plunders like fire; it stands like the mountain; it is formless like the dark; it strikes like thunder lightning."
The second part of the characters continues where furinkazan left off, found in The Art of War's Chapter Seven (Armed Struggle):
"When you plunder the countryside, divide the wealth among your troops; when you expand your territory, divide up and hold places of advantage. Calculate the situation, and then move."
I simply think Mr. Tagawa's Furinkazan is spectacular. I'm not an art expert -- I'm not even an Art of War expert -- but having managed a university's art gallery early in my career, I do know what great art looks like. Add that to my interest in calligraphy and I can tell you that this piece is exceptional. It's chaotic but controlled, complex but clean, confident but composed. Like Sun Tzu's Art of War, this art piece puts me at ease.
Of particular note is in his description of Furinkazan, published on March 25, 2018, he said, "Information and knowledge, precision and depth are important, not just quantity." (情報とか知識って、量だけじゃなく精度と深度も大事だなぁと。) What Mr. Tagawa said here was appropriate, because if a picture is worth a thousand words, the quality of his calligraphy work on Sun Tzu's Art of War is immeasurable.
If you like Goroh Tagawa's Furinkazan, be sure to visit his website: Sho.Goroh.net to view a 45-page gallery of his amazing calligraphy pieces. Highly recommended.