Hi! 初めまして！My name is Kaho and I’m a director / animator from Japan, now based in Vancouver, Canada. I grew up in and around Tokyo, and moved to a small Ontario town in Canada by myself to learn English when I was 15 years old. I have been working as a freelancer since graduating from Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2015 with a degree in animation. I love everything animation, but have a special passion for stop motion and mixed media animation. When I’m not working, I listen to a lot of true crime podcasts, read Japanese books and go for walks in hopes of spotting pugs.
I have been living in Vancouver since 2011. If you get lost in the city, you can always find which way is north because you can almost always see the mountains. Vancouver is pretty multi-cultural and has a great Asian food scene. Compared to Tokyo, Vancouver feels like a very small city. It’s quiet and clean and comfortable. I was a bit bored of the city so I moved to Berlin for a year in 2019. I hope when the pandemic is over I can go back to Europe for a little bit longer.
The best thing about living in Vancouver is that there is beautiful nature accessible by public transit (I can’t drive). You can walk down to the ocean, or take a bus to hike mountains. I used to live close to Stanley Park and I could walk 5 mins to a beach to catch a sunset. It was pretty great!
The worst thing for me probably is that there isn’t much happening in the art scene. Vancouver is a very expensive city to live in, and not very artist-friendly. I feel like I have to try really hard to find an exhibition that I want to go to, or find art events.
The best thing about living in Vancouver is that there is beautiful nature accessible by public transit (I can’t drive). You can walk down to the ocean, or take a bus to hike mountains.
Calm, intimate, new
I’ve always loved drawing as a child. But when I moved to a small Canadian town as a 15-year-old, I didn’t speak English and had a really hard time expressing myself verbally. The town was predominantly white and I didn’t fit in. So art became a very important tool for me to process whatever I was going through and to express myself. One day when I was 16 or 17 I watched a stop motion music video on Youtube and fell in love with the medium. I started making stop motion videos on my own. I decided that it was the most fun thing in the world and it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I went to university to learn animation. I made a stop motion graduation film that got into some film festivals like Ottawa International Animation Festival and TIFF, and that helped me get initial freelance works.
One day when I was 16 or 17 I watched a stop motion music video on Youtube and fell in love with the medium. I started making stop motion videos on my own. I decided that it was the most fun thing in the world and it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
Fortunately, yes! My parents were very supportive when I told them I wanted to go to an Art University. Though my father’s initial reaction was “But you’ll study design, right? What are you going to do with an animation degree?!”, I think he now understands what I do. My mom has always been very supportive and gives me very kind feedback when I send her links to my new work.
I want to keep pushing myself and not play it safe. I want to keep trying to animate new materials and objects and experiment with new aesthetics. I also want to collaborate more with artist friends I admire.
Another thing is I want to keep using my storytelling to help with causes I care about. If I can use my art to help people feel seen, then that is the best thing I can do.
I want to keep pushing myself and not play it safe.
There are so many artists I would love to collaborate with, but my wildest dream would be Yuni Yoshida and Taika Waititi.
I find it really hard to stick to one path. I want to keep directing and animating more commercial works, but I also want to take time off and work on my personal projects. I want to get better and specialize more in stop motion, but I also want to learn new skills and expand my toolbox. I want to get better at animation, but I also want to draw more comics! Obviously, I can’t do it all, so I need to learn to be ok with not being able to do it all and be better at prioritizing.
Supportive, strong, kind, AMAZING. I feel so fortunate to have met so many talented and supportive women/femme/nb folks in my years, both in real life and on social media. I certainly would not have gotten where I am without them.
Supportive, strong, kind, AMAZING.
I was very fortunate to have grown up reading many comics by great women artists like Suzue Miuchi, Ai Yazawa, and Chica Umino. I believe that my love for storytelling definitely started from reading these comics and making my own as a child.
Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for things.
Yes! Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for things. Personally, I have a really hard time doing that. So I spent the first 3 years of my career hoping someone would notice me. But then I realized it’s not going to happen and I need to start looking out for myself. I used to think “I wish I could get featured in this blog, or this Instagram page…” Now I slide in their DMs and ask if I can get featured. As long as I’m friendly and cool about getting a “No”, no one will think I’m silly or too entitled for asking.
I listen to almost everything but these days watching Lizzo’s Tiny Desk Concert on youtube is giving me life.
Ooh it’s a hard one. Legendary Noodles in the west end Vancouver was my go-to when I lived in the neighborhood. Also Kingyo for lunch specials!
I don’t think I do it well, especially during the pandemic when I don’t really leave the house. I used to have a shared studio space and that was very helpful! I miss it.
It was a lot of trying different things and deciding what my career as an animator should look like. I also couldn’t pick and choose jobs, so there were many times I had to do something I didn’t enjoy doing. It was good to try different things though because now I know what I enjoy doing/am good at.
What’s your relationships with social media like? And how do you manage the negative side of social media as an artist?
Photos courtesy of Kaho Yoshida
December 26, 2020