Q:You and Martin Scorsese are both keenly visual artists who
were captivated for decades by Endo’s
book. What is it about Silence that grabs
you and won’t let you go?
A:Marty knew right away that it was a life-changing work for him, but
it took him a while to find an angle for a
film treatment. I actually read Endo’s
work at Bucknell, but I really didn’t
understand it. Years later, I had an
encounter with fumi-e stepping blocks in
a side room of the Tokyo National
Museum. It was a re-encounter with
Endo’s book, and from that moment on,
it haunted me. Until my friend introduced me to Martin Scorsese [in 2013],
I never really expected to journey this
deeply with Endo.
Q:What was the nature of your collaboration?
A:I was asked to read the early script, and he made several
corrections after that. I was on the set
twice and worked with the set designers.
Then Marty invited a few of us to see the
cut before the final cut and make
Q:Did Scorsese’s vision for the story match the way
you visualized Silence?
A:It was way beyond what I had envisioned. He is an amazing
visual thinker. It is a remarkable work of
art, from a visual artist’s perspective.
Q:Through your book and the movie, Silence has been shared
with an audience that might never have
encountered it. What do you hope the
impact of that experience will be?
A:In today’s very divided, polarized reality, in the U.S, and the world,
where religious persecution is on the rise,
where we have established this way of
excluding “the other,” this story serves as
almost an antidote. We can extend
ourselves in hospitality to the stranger, to
outsiders, to marginal people, refugees,
immigrants. I pursued Endo’s writings for
the past three years, and I know that he
wanted to write a universal story about
trauma in order that people cannot only
survive trauma but find deeper hope
through it. So ultimately, it is a work of
compassion, and I hope we can become
more compassionate as a result of
encountering Endo’s work.
Q:Fumi-e are images of the Virgin Mary and Jesus that
Christians in Japan were asked to step
upon to renounce their faith. What are
some of the fumi-e we are now forced
to step upon?
A:That’s easy: the last election. Whoever we voted for, we
stepped on our own fumi-e ideologies —
principles that we value the most. We did
it for many good reasons, but many of us
betrayed the very principles of liberalism
and conservatism by voting for a candidate we didn’t really believe in.
Q:You’ll be delivering the Samek Distinguished Art Lecture on
campus April 27. What message do you
plan to bring here?
A:It’s really related to Silence and Beauty. How do you create in this
very fragmented, anxiety-filled world? I
think the integrated knowledge that a
liberal arts education brings is exactly
what we need.
To see some of Mako Fujimura’s art
related to Silence, go to bucknell.edu/
FujimuraSilence or download the Bucknell
By Sherri Kimmel
Makoto Fujimura ’83 is renowned for his visual art, which combines traditional Japanese
painting techniques with abstraction. Last year, he published Silence and Beauty: Hidden
Faith Born of Suffering, which he describes as “comparative literature, memoir and
theological reflection.” His book was inspired by Silence, the 1966 novel by Shusaku Endo
that Martin Scorsese brought to life last year. Fujimura was an adviser for the Oscar-nominated film, which hauntingly depicts the persecution of Catholics in 17th-century
Japan. Fujimura, a Bucknell trustee, is the director of Fuller Seminary’s Brehm Center for
Worship, Theology and the Arts and is founder of the International Arts Movement.
Mako Fujimura ’83