A campaign by the Metropolitan Prefecture
Japanese – and not just them – are convinced that there is no other country in this world where tradion merges with state of the art technology in such a perfect harmony. Especially Tōkyō has been riding on this slogan for a long time and has been doing so again in a campaign that was started on the occasion on the city’s 150th birthday (of course, Tōkyō is older than 150 years – but 150 years ago it was still called “Edo”).
It is not up to me to judge whether this often sung about symbiosis between old and new is more than just the projection of a great dream (everybody will be able to tell stories about the coexistance of old and new from his/her home country). Nevertheless, I want to share four of the posters with you that have been published in conjunction with the campaign mentioned above.
Discover for yourself, whether the posters successfully pair “old” and “new” – in a unique way that is typical “Japanese”. A little additional information as to what can be seen on the posters is also provided.
Ueno Hanazono Inari Jinja / Digital Art Museum
Hanazono Inari Jinja, Tōkyō, Ueno (上野花園稲荷神社)
One of the shrines in the vast park of Ueno in Tōkyō – famous for its many shrine gates (torii / 鳥居).
Digital Art Museum, Tōkyō, Odaiba (デジタルアート ミュージアム)
This museum offers a colourful and multidimensional world created by means of the latest technology.
Maneki Neko / Hello Kitty
Maneki Neko (招き猫)
Maneki-neko, also manekineko (“waving cat” or “beckoning cat”), is a popular Japanese lucky charm in the shape of the sitting cat. It beckons the visitor by “waving” its right or left paw.
Maneki-neko are popular in Japan, China, Taiwan and Thailand and are usually placed in entrances of shops, restaurants or other establishments. They are supposed to attract the attention of passersby and visitors. On market squares and at exhititions the are supposed to ensure financial and commercial luck. People also like to put them on display in their private residences to bring weath and ward off bad luck.
The shape of the cat originates from the “Japanese Bobtail Cat”. According to Japanese believe the maneki-neko is the reincarnation of the goddess of mercy (kannon / 観音). Some legends and anecdotes related to lucky cats date back to the early Edo era (1603–1867).
Hello Kitty (ハローキティ)
Hello Kitty is a ficticious figure created in 1974 by the Japanese company Sanrio.
Hello Kitty is a stylised, small, white cat – of which – most of the time – just the head is being produced. It is usually “wearing” colourful bows, flowers or the like behind its left ear and doesn’t have a mouth. There is a wide range of products using this character licensed by Sanrio. It is one of the early examples for the Japanese “kawaii culture” (kawaii = sweet, cuddly, cute).
The design of Hello Kitty was based on the Japanese “maneki-neko”.
Ukiyo-e / Hatsune Miku
Ukiyo-e (浮世絵 which could be translated into “pictures of a floating world”) is a collective name for a certain genre of Japanese painting and/or prints (woodblock prints), representing the lifestyle and the views of the world of the broader middle class in the big cities of Japan – especially in Edo (Tōkyō) during the so called Edo era (1603–1867).
Hatsune Miku (初音ミく)
Hatsune Miku is a virtual character created by the Japanese mangaka and illustrator Kei for Crypton Future Media. She became the mascot for the software “Hatsune Miku”, an artificial singing voice created by Crypton, based on the software-synthesizer Vocaloid2. She was introduced to the public in 2007 and became rather famous soon after. She appeared in music videos created by fans of Nico Nico Douga. Eventually, Hatsune Miku became an “independent product” and was adapted by various media. In 2008 Hatsune Miku became the first synthetic pop icon and decorated with the Seiun-Award.
According to Crypton more than 100,000 pieces of music with Hatsune Miku voice had been published by 2013. There were 170,000 videos with her on YouTube and about one million illustrations.
Kabuki / Robi
Kabuki (歌舞伎 = sing (歌), dance (舞), and skill (伎)) is a traditional form of Japanese theatre of the bourgeoisie during the Edo era (1603–1867) and consists – as the name suggests – of singing, pantomime and dance. Kabuki can also be seen as the secular version of the far older Nō-theatre that has its roots in Shintō belief.
In 2005, the Kabuki theatre was proclaimed by UNESCO as an intangible heritage possessing outstanding universal value. In 2008, it was inscribed in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Robi is a robot, walking on two legs. It’s 34 cm tall and weighs about one kilogram. Its movements are controlled by 20 servomotos. Originally it was maketed as a construction kit by “DeAgostini Japan”.