In the West he's been referred to as "the other Murakami." To those in Japan, the difference is so prominent that very few would ever confuse artist-cum-filmmaker Takashi Murakami with novelist Haruki Murakami. However, the two men do share some things in common, including an enduring collaborative friendship with North America.

"I feel like America practically raised me," Takashi of that ilk tells The Japan Times. "So now, I'm really comfortable with working and being there."

Actor Jack Black, reportedly an enthusiastic fan, showed up for the special premiere of Murakami's debut feature film, "Mememe no Kurage (Jellyfish Eyes)," in Los Angeles and sang his praises. That would've pleased Murakami, who once told a press conference in New York: "The most gratifying moment for an artist is to be told that the world gets him."