Japanese pop icons and traditional paintings mingle in a mash-up exhibition

Kyodo

A unique exhibition opened Wednesday in Kyoto featuring famous anime and manga characters, as well as other icons of Japanese pop culture, drawn in the style of traditional Japanese paintings.

The exhibition, titled “Bokura-ga Nihon-wo Tsuideiku” (“We Will Inherit Japan”), shows a collection of 35 pieces by local artists that reimagine characters such as Black Jack created by the late manga artist Osamu Tezuka and virtual pop singer Hatsune Miku in the traditional styles of the Rimpa school of Japanese art or 18th-century painter Ito Jakuchu.

The event at a Takashimaya department store in Kyoto’s Shimogyo Ward was planned by Shinya Yamada, the head of the local textile firm Toyowado, who wondered what kind of works Rimpa-style artists would have produced if they had painted manga and anime characters.

A scroll painting reproduced a rare bird by Jakuchu alongside Hatsune Miku, a singing android — paired together because the long, flowing hair of the so-called Vocaloid resembles the bird’s tail, the organizers said.

Another piece combines doctor Black Jack with three crows drawn by Rimpa-style artist Suzuki Kiitsu.

“We are hoping that the exhibition will expand the age bracket of art fans by adding anime enthusiasts to conventional museum visitors,” said Yoshiyuki Hosomi, 63, head of the Kyoto-based Hosomi Museum, which supervised the artworks.

The exhibition is scheduled to run through Sept. 25 with free admission. A Takashimaya department store in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district will host the event next January. For more information, see the exhibition website.