Innovations to Sailor’s Valentine and seashell mosaics from Japanese artist

In the oldest and most prestigious art show for Sailor’s Valentines, held in Sanibel, Florida, United States during the first week of March 2012, Hatsue Limuro, an artist from Japan won the top prize in the category of seashell mosaic.

Hatsue Limuro, 48, who lives in Kai, Yamanashi Prefecture, was participating and competing in this event for the first time.

After the show she decided to realize her dream and to open a workshop in Hokuto and in Yamanashi Prefecture, in June 2012 to spread the unique seashell art in her country.

Limuro had never seen a Sailor’s Valentine in Japan. Her first impression and passion developed when she moved to Boston in 2005 when her husband, a company employee, was transferred there.

She was attracted to this unique art, and signed up for a classes to learn how to make Sailor Valentinse. She discovered that it was a time consuming proces and that the things that goes into the geometric patterns are similar to that in making patchwork, which she had been previously engaged in.

Limuro returned to Japan in 2009. From 2010, she held an annual event to introduce shell art to children at the resort facility Risonare Yatsugatake in Hokuto.

Her art works gained the attention of Yasuyuki Tsugura, 50, who is operating a gallery in the facility. He suggested that Limuro ask his acquaintances, including lacquer and wood craftsmen, to create frames for her patterns. She decided to follow his suggestions. Using the frames craftmen created, Limuro made three works and submitted them to three categories of the 75th Sanibel Shell Show, held on Sanibel island in Florida, in March 2012. All three works were met with different prestigious awards.

She improved her skills in making Sailor’s Valentines and added some innovations in this traditional process:

Impressive wood work gives the shell mosaic a great presentation view and an attractive two sided display with convex glasses in both sides.
Looking at the dome shaped glasses brought the feeling of seeing an exotic aquarium.

Each Sailor Valentine becames a little deeper and each of the 8 inner side from the octagonal box recieves a mirror or fabric covering. This innovation brings an illusion of the largest size to the original mosaic.

All Limuro’s mosaics introduce Japanese culture, history, tradition to other groups of people around in the world. It is a great educational art for kids.

On the last show in March 2013, Limuro added electrical power to her seashell mosaics! They became not only seashell Sailor Valentines but also a light fixture!

In Autumn 2011, Limuro established the Japan Sailor’s Valentine Association (Japan-SVA). In May, the Yamanashi Mecenat Kyokai (Yamanashi Mecenat Association) decided to provide a grant to the Japan-SVA. Limuro, who is holding a shell art class in Tokyo, also plans to open a new workshop in the Kobuchisawacho district in Hokuto to hold a similar class.

Recalling an event she held for children, she said, “Children’s ideas are fresh and stimulating. They are influencing my work.”

In this year, on the Sanibel Shell Show 2013 the, Japanese artist exhibited her new innovative shell art works and recieved new awards for her new visions in seashell art.



  1. s peter dance

    I was intrigued by the kaiawase shells in your double sailor’s valentine and congratulate you on the clever way you have set them out on a display of shells and sea-urchin parts. Can you tell me if your kaiawase shells are very old? I have 3 paired kaiawase shells and illustrated one pair of them in my article ‘Japanese Shell-matching Game’(American Conchologist, Vol. 34, page 12, Sept.2006). Perhaps they are about the same age as yours? I should like to know where they could have been designed. Can you help?
    With kind regards from S.Peter Dance.

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