In 1967 my father, the late Mick Williment (All Black 1964-1967) toured Japan with the New Zealand Universities team. Whilst in Japan he and three NZU team mates visited Bunmei Okabe in hospital, a young man who had incurred a disabling injury whilst playing rugby. The result of this meeting motivated and inspired Bunmei, who has become a well renown artist in Japan and internationally. Bunmeis many paintings of clowns often reflect symbols of rugby, brotherhood and even contain references to the names of those players who visited him all those years ago. My father passed away in 1994 and I wasn’t aware of his visit with Bunmei. Accordingly, I was hugely privileged and touched to learn of their auspicious meeting and the lasting effect that it had, when I met Bunmei in person during the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand (organised by Roger Drummond of New Zealand Universities Rugby). Witnessing Bunmeis art and his significant themes was extremely emotional and powerful as it gave me an opportunity to revisit my fathers compassionate nature. I am very grateful that his encouragement and optimism, played some part, in helping Bunmei along his chosen life path. Bunmeis journey of resilience continues to inspire others, along with his innovative and original art works. I wish him every great success with his exhibition this year for the RWC 2019 in Japan.
Mick Williments daughter – Jo Williment