There’s more than one answer? It’s ok to come up with my own answer?!


I suspect there are quite a few people out there who think they’re pretty awful at art. 
In fact, I was the same. When I was a child, I didn’t like drawing or painting and wasn’t particularly good at it either. Not surprisingly, my grades at school for art class were mediocre, and I even remember wondering to myself, “The things we learn in art class – what’s the point? Will it be useful when I grow up?” But I had an experience that completely transformed the way I thought about art.
One day we had an outdoor painting competition at school. Our assignment was to take our art materials with us on the school outing and paint a picture of the landscape. “I can’t paint to save my life anyways,” I thought and on an almost desperate whim I started squirting the paint straight from the tube onto my fingers and then proceeded to dab it onto the paper. As I was painting, the sensation of the paint on my fingers felt oddly comforting, and before I knew it, I was completely absorbed. Eventually, as the paint dried to form a bumpy surface, a peculiar picture emerged. It wasn’t clear what exactly I’d painted.   
A few days later, some paintings were selected and hung up in the school corridors. I was surprised to find my work among them. Obviously, this was the first time I’d ever been chosen. It’s not that I wasn’t happy, but as I stood in front of my picture, which was so completely different from the others, I was perplexed. I couldn’t help wondering why they’d chosen it. So I decided to open my art textbook, which I’d never really studied properly until that moment. From cave paintings to artwork to the present day, throughout the ages I discovered an extraordinary range of artworks- they were literally all over the place. They were all so different I couldn’t compare them or even begin to fathom what was “good” art. However, one thing was clear: there were as many artists as there were artworks. Then as I stared at the book, I realized something.
So that means… there’s more than one answer?! It’s ok to come up with my own answer?!
While other subjects at school were about finding the right answer, with art I was free to create my own answer. It was in that moment that my interest in art really blossomed. In the years that followed, despite many twists and turns, I eventually decided to pursue the path of becoming an artist – but there’s no doubt in my mind that this was the defining moment.
Even within art I was especially interested in drawing and painting. It fascinated me that we can all paint pictures and yet it remains mystery why we paint. It’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve been painting and making art all these years in search of the answer to this question. It feels a bit like a never-ending quest.
What is the role of art? What is art?
My sincere hope is that those of you who were good at drawing, as well as those of you who weren’t, children as well as adults, will discover anew the possibilities of making and seeing art.

Kunihiko Yazawa
Artist・Chair of the Board

What we do

  • Education programs to empower the next generation to create the future
  • Professional development programs for teachers and education professionals on creative thinking and creative communication
  • Hosting a learning community to support creative learning practitioners and life-long learning
  • Providing solutions to support new approaches to education and education reform
  • Researching new approaches to learning and education in Japan and around the world, knowledge sharing and dissemination, organizing and producing events and exhibitions

Our Team

KUNIHIKO YAZAWA Chair of the Board of Directors
Kunihiko Yazawa is a Tokyo-based artist who began his career in 1994.
"Why do we paint?" - this simple question drives Yazawa's practice, and he continues to explore this theme through his object-making and various art projects.

HIROKO TAKAHASHI  Executive Director - Finance

After completing her undergraduate studies, Hiroko joined MUFG Bank, Ltd. where she had a 31-year career in a variety of roles spanning finance, fund settlement and firm-wide diversity initiatives. Hiroko’s experience of working with people with diverse backgrounds deepened her belief in the strength and resilience of organizations which embrace diversity. Her desire to get involved in the kind of education that empowers the next generation of youth to live authentically and create their own futures inspired her to join ELAB. Hiroko is a graduate of TOTSUKITOKA - 10-month EGAKU Intensive Course. Today she continues her EGAKU practice as part of her broader learning journey.

Art Producer
CEO,  White Ship, Inc.    

Kimi Hasebe founded White Ship in 2001 with artist, Kunihiko Yazawa. She has developed programs which explore the possibilities of art considered from the viewpoint of both the artist and audience, and over the years she has established an art management practice which unlocks the creativity of individuals and organizations. Through her work designing and implementing art programs for business professionals and large corporations she has been closely involved in supporting organizational transformation. To date, she has implemented art programs for over 150 companies. She is also involved in artist management, art incubation, studio management, curation and the production of art exhibitions.

Global Projects

Ryoko heads Global Projects at White Ship, and is also involved in ELAB’s work with youth and students. She is passionate about exploring the role of art in human development in all its dimensions. Prior to joining White Ship, Ryoko worked in various global investment management roles in Hong Kong, New York, London and Tokyo at Goldman Sachs, TPG Axon and Deutsche Asset Management where she focussed on sustainable investments in Asia. Ryoko holds a Master of International Affairs degree from Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs and read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at the University of Oxford.

Community Leader    

Sotaro Tsunagi is a fundraiser for non-profits and other organizations in the social sector at STYX/Syncable. As the national manager of Tomarigi, the student community of Tobitate! (Leap for Tomorrow) Study Abroad Initiative, he was responsible for organizing 200 events nationwide, as well as an event for 350 people at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Japan (MEXT). At ELAB Sotaro focuses on fundraising and community building amongst the student community and young professionals.

MISAKO ISHII  Executive Director - Operations
After graduating from Keio University, Faculty of Law, Misako Fukuda joined SIGMAXYZ Inc. as a business consultant. At SIGMAXYZ, she was responsible for leading various projects in the areas of business process re-engineering, IT system implementation and new business development. During her time at SIGMAXYZ, she was also involved in Vision Forest - a collaboration project with White Ship which uses art to help transform people and organizations. Misako joined ELAB after her experience at Vision Forest and transformative personal experience through the TOTSUKITOKA course deepened her appreciation for the power of art to create authentic learning experiences and enrich our lives.

Our Supporters


Mitsubishi Memorial Foundation for Educational Excellence

Corporate partner member





Artist Kunihiko Yazawa and Kimi Hasebe found White Ship with the mission to create a world of human flourishing through art


Started EGAKU Program for elementary school students


Started EGAKU Program for business professionals


EGAKU Program for environment & sustainability education for high school students


Started regular EGAKU sessions for business professionals


Held the Shingetsu (New Moon) Seminar - an art management program


Launched EGAKU for corporates practice 


ELAB (formerly the Institute of Communication Art) is founded as White Ship's nonprofit arm


Started EGAKU for university students including participants of the University of Tokyo Global Health Leadership Program


Started EGAKU for areas affected by the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami including Hisanohama Daiichi Elementary School, Iwaki City, Fukushima


Started EGAKU for young global leaders including participants of the University of Tokyo Innovation Summer Program


Moved to Moto-Akasaka along with White Ship's office move

Launched programs for middle school students, including EGAKU for Minato Municipal Aoyama Junior High School @Google Tokyo


ELAB conducts an organizational review with a renewed focus on young people - spanning middle-school students, university students and under-25 youth - with a particular emphasis on senior high school students.  Launched programs for high-school students.  


'EGAKU the Future Program' awarded 3-year grant by the Mitsubishi Memorial Foundation for Educational Excellence




6F Terasawa Bldg., 1-7-17 Motoakasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107-0051, Japan
Tel : (+81)3-6434-9785  Fax : (+81)3-6434-9786  Email:
6 minute walk from Ginza/Marunouchi Line Akasaka-mitsuke Station Exit B
6 minute walk from Yurakucho/Hanzomon/Namboku Line Nagata-cho Station Exit B
15 minute walk from Ginza/Hanzomon/Oedo Line Aoyama Itchome Station Exit 2