Blogs Across the Water, Day 104: Through Japanese Eyes

January 12th, 2011

More Japanese visuals.

Perhaps as a result of being the only country to experience an atomic attack, the Japanese are fascinated with post-apocalyptic visions of their own world.

An artist who calls himself Tokyo Genso is one of the most prominent painters specializing in a deserted, mysteriously devastated Tokyo.  The image above shows a nameless alley in Shinjuku soon after the city emptied itself.  Some signs still seem to be lighted, there’s a solitary gleaming streetlight, and there might also be lights in the skyscrapers. (Click these pictures to see themin a larger form — they’re worth it.)

In the picture below, though, looking across the river at the now-thriving electronics district of Akihibara, it’s evident that people have been absent for a long, long time.

Japan also delights in photos of deserted places in the present.  Here’s a beautifully eerie picture a of disused amusement park.

And a truly far-side-of-weird close-up:

But “spooky” is no note to close on.  Let’s look at some whimsy.  First a couple of letters from an elegant and witty alphabet by an artist named Yoriko Yoshida.  Each picture offers an object with a Japanese name that begins, if rendered in the Roman alphabet, with the letter suggested in the visual.  If that’s too convoluted, this one is B, and the image is a bonsai.

And here’s W, for waragi, or straw sandals.

This is high up on my list of the funniest images I’ve seen all year.  It’s a subway poster reminding riders not to forget their umbrellas.

And finally, since we’re still in a new new year, and since it’s the Year of the Rabbit, here are a couple of wonderful vintage new year’s cards on the theme of rabbits.  First, from 1927:

And, finally, a rabbit with whom I can sympathize, from 1915.

For the last time in 2011, happy new year, everybody.

6 Responses to “Blogs Across the Water, Day 104: Through Japanese Eyes”

  1. Suzanna Says:

    A feast for the eyes today, Tim. Love the vintage Year of the Rabbit card. Great composition and color.

    The Year of the Rabbit is supposed to be peaceful, prosperous, and carefree. No harm in believing any of that!

  2. Peg Brantley Says:

    Love the subway poster. Umbrellas are . . . important.

  3. Larissa Says:

    I dig that crazy purple in the second “abandoned japan” scene. Awesome! I want hair that color hehe…

    Again, neat little corners of creativity that seem to pop up out of nowhere.

    Suzanna: I will definitely turn all of my attention to believing in the Year of the Rabbit if it’s supposed to offer all of that! (c: And hopefully by doing so, make it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    So, Tim, thank you for the random bits of visual candy again today-I’m going to go hunt down more imagery to indulge in…some creative fires need to be stoked.

  4. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    Your visual feast continues. Yes, whimsy is a kind of beauty. I must admit I like Genzo’s paintings, and especially his photo of the deserted amusement park, evoke all kinds of ghosts, and mystery. It seems that Asian religions allow for ghosts, don’t they? And in the end, the 1915 Rabbit calls for laughter, and an aw. Clever, and lovely.

  5. Laren Bright Says:

    Terrific. Where else would we find these things if not for Tim?

  6. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Thanks, everybody. I have thousands if Japanese images that caught my eye — this could be the first in a series that stretches over months.

    Zanna, I love the more abstract rabbit for design but laughed at the other one. The Japanese have a unique graphic style that I would bet owes some of its characteristics — flat color areas, simplicity of rendering — to woodblock prints, which was the great medium there for hundreds of years.

    Peg, I personally think the blessing (sorting out?) of the umbrellas is the funniest image I’ve seen all year. I especially love the apostles’ reactions — they’re perfect.

    Hi, Lil, and thanks. I may do more Japanese visuals as the weeks and months stretch on and on and on and on

    Laren, here and only here. And thanks.

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