Report: Sebastian Masuda’s ‘Yes, Kawaii is Art’ Exhibition at Kanda Myojin Shrine Goes Beyond ‘Cute’

09.December.2021 | FASHION / FEATURES / SPOT

What does the word ‘kawaii’ mean to you? For most people overseas, it’s a purely Japanese aesthetic combining colorful visuals with cutesy characters to make something so adorable it defies imagination. In recent years, however, ‘kawaii’ has become a kind of philosophy that transcends language, national borders, and even consciousness. It’s a driving force behind people’s lives and something that pulls people out of bed in the morning–it’s something capable of instantly putting a smile on people’s faces. For those wishing to study the philosophy behind the ‘kawaii’ movement, the Godfather of Kawaii Sebastian Masuda is currently holding an exhibition at Kanda Myojin Shrine in Tokyo until December 12, 2021. What is it about ‘kawaii’ that is so capable of inspiring so many different people and cultures around the world? 

A correlation chart welcomes guests to the grounds. The ‘Kawaii Archival Research,’ a project on kawaii culture conducted with students from the Kyoto University of Arts, collected data on ‘kawaii’ trends from the post-war period to the present day. Through interactions with the worldwide ‘kawaii’ community, it’s clear how much of an impact the aesthetic has had on people around the globe. 

 

In the midst of the pandemic in 2020, Masuda announced #KAWAIITRIBE, a way to encourage those coping with depression during the days of COVID-19. His followers were asked to use ‘color’ to bring the world together, and more and more, the ‘kawaii’ movement became a way to express and love oneself. Using #KAWAIITRIBE, more and more fans of the movements became connected–even if those users were countries apart. 

 

The hashtag #SPEAKUP was also utilized by Masuda to collect data from ‘kawaii’ lovers around the world, asking about hobbies, interests, and opinions on ‘kawaii’ culture. The data collected over the course of 12 days was incredibly meaningful to Masuda and led to plenty of new discoveries about the community as a whole. 

 

Masuda explains that each country has different types of ‘kawaii,’ and that the aesthetic is expressed in different ways around the world. One country may have people influenced mainly by ‘kawaii’ expressions in anime and manga, while another expresses it through fashion or music. ‘Kawaii’ is diverse, just as people are diverse. 

 

Sebastian Masuda has also held a Zoom meeting with people in ‘kawaii’ communities around the globe to discover how they became involved with the aesthetic initially, while also asking how it inspired them and gave them strength during these difficult times. Certain people claimed that ‘kawaii’ helped them in their personal growth, while others say it has brought out some of their potential in new and unexpected ways. While Masuda’s artwork may simply seem visual, ‘kawaii’ has become a tool for new communication and personal healing and growth. Some may even call it a kind of therapy: a place where people can surround themselves with color and joy to heal from the difficulties of life. The bold colors of the ‘kawaii’ movement can inspire people to be bold in their daily lives. Individuality should be celebrated and self-confidence should reign supreme–that is yet another message of the ‘kawaii’ movement. 

 

Many people involved in the Zoom call had never met, and after the initial meeting, the room was left open to give people a place to communicate. Afterward, the ‘kawaii’ circle only became bigger, with a Facebook group bringing together more and more members of the community. 

The research done during the last year of the COVID-19 pandemic has given ‘kawaii’ lovers a reason to think deeply on how to overcome the many struggles born from the ‘new normal,’ and these forums are perfect places to share colorful messages of hope and strength. 

Inspired by Masuda’s own struggles during his time in Manhatten in 2013, Colorful Rebellion -Seventh Nightmare- is on display at Kanda Myojin. The installation has previously appeared in locations around the world including New York City, Milan, and Amsterdam. This time, the exhibit was inspired by ‘muro,’ a basement room in Omotesando where amazake is fermented. The room was used as an air-raid shelter during the war, and walking along the dimly-lit path leading to Masuda’s brightly-colored room, it’s hard not to wish that those evacuees could have been surrounded by these beautiful colors instead of pitch darkness. 

It is no exaggeration to say that this is Masuda’s representative work. Created in the midst of the artist’s own struggles, it has helped establish the philosophy of ‘kawaii’ culture and continues to help those dealing with their own problems.

The Time After Time Capsule Art Project, starting in 2014 and held in 12 cities around the world, is a massive time capsule filled with messages and wishes for the future. Shaped like the beloved Sanrio character Hello Kitty, the capsule is gradually changing color as it becomes heavier and heavier with wishes for peace and happiness from fans around the world. Originally planned to be exhibited at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, this couldn’t come to fruition due to the current pandemic. This is the first time it is being shown in Japan. 

The WORLD TIME CLOCK, a once-famous landmark of Harajuku, has also been recreated and installed within Kanda Myojin. 

 

‘Yes, Kawaii Is Art’ at Kanda Myojin is a deeply emotional, personal, and inspiring exhibition allowing visitors to experience firsthand how ‘kawaii’ culture is capturing the hearts of people around the world. Sebastian Masuda isn’t slowing down any time soon, and his works will continue to heal people and bring joy for many years to come. 

 

Sebastian Masuda’s solo exhibition ‘Primal Pop’ will be held at Roppongi Hills A/D Gallery from December 11, 2021, until January 10, 2022.

 

TEXT:Natalie(MOSHI MOSHI NIPPON)

RELATED ENTRIES

  • Final Fantasy Artist Yoshitaka Amano Holds Art Exhibition at Myoshin-ji in Kyoto

    30.November.2022 | FASHION / SPOT

    Yoshitaka Amano, known by international fans as the artist behind the legendary Final Fantasy video game series, is celebrating his 70th birthday with a unique art project from November 23 until December 8 at Myoshin-ji in Kyoto. 

    On the first day of the event, the venue, decorated with autumn leaves, was crowded with visitors including foreign tourists, who marveled at the fantastic space filled harmoniously with gold and blue. The exhibition will be held at Myoshin-ji, the head temple of the associated branch of Rinzai Zen Buddhism. This collection of works was designed to question visitors’ sensibilities and provide a new kind of art exhibition for fans to enjoy.

     

    After the exhibition, the main art piece by Yoshitaka himself will be converted to 3DCG, and a Virtual Golden World will be developed in collaboration with the Yoshitaka Amano VR Museum. By integrating traditional and modern art methods, guests will be able to engage more deeply in the art by enjoying digital works, the metaverse, and NFTs.

     

    Don’t miss this curious exhibition!

  • Interview Series Vol.3: What Does ‘Kawaii’ Mean to You?

    14.November.2022 | FASHION / FEATURES

    “Japan is such an interesting country, where so many cultures blend and evolve.”

     

    Moshi Moshi Nippon is dedicated to sharing Japanese pop culture with audiences around the world. Recently, we launched a new interview series with foreign influencers active in Japan, and for the third edition, we’re chatting with Zhu Zhu! A popular influencer with over 2 million followers on Weibo, Zhu Zhu claims that since coming to Japan, her fashion has become ‘softer.’ We sat down to ask her what kind of Kawaii she’s found in Japan.

    Q. Why did you first come to Japan?

    “In 2013, I moved to Japan with my family because Beijing’s air pollution had become really bad. It’s already been nine years!”

     

    Zhu Zhu when she first came to Japan

     

    Q. When you first arrived in Japan, what surprised you?

    “When I first came to Japan, what really surprised me was the wide use of the word ‘kawaii.’ It’s so interesting that literally anything can be called kawaii. Sure, it makes sense to call girls, animals, or clothes cute, but in Japan, people call things cute that people in other countries would never refer to in that way. I mean, I think calling things ‘cute’ when you mean ‘good’ is something really commonplace here. (laugh)” 

     

    Q. Tell us what you find the most Kawaii in Japan!

    “There are so many cute things in Japan, but I think that the sweets take the cake. I was surprised by how small they are unlike in other countries. And there are so many kinds! Cakes, baked goods, wagashi, they’re all so incredibly kawaii!”

     

    Q. How did your encounter with Kawaii culture in Japan change you?

    “Since I first came into contact with the Japanese version of kawaii, I think my style has become softer. When I was overseas, I typically just worse really simple outfits and makeup, but now, I’m always conscious of looking girly and cute.”

     

    Q.In Japan, what are you interested in right now? Where do you want to visit in the future?

    “I recently read an article about Yufuin Floral Village, which is England-inspired. It looks so cute and I really want to go!”

     

    Q. Do you have anything to say to our readers who want to visit Japan in the future?

    “Japan is such an interesting country, where so many cultures blend and evolve. No matter how many times you visit, you can always find something new. Please visit!”

     

    Zhu Zhu Profile

    An influencer from China with 2 million followers on Weibo. Nicknamed “Big Cousin” on social media, she has been a favorite of many Japanese brands for years. Since moving to Japan, Zhu Zhu has actively shared fashion, beauty, travel, and food posts on social media. In addition to appearing on TV and in magazines, she has collaborated with a number of major Japanese apparel and cosmetics companies. 

  • 60th Anniversary Sanrio Exhibition: The Beginning of Kawaii to Open at Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art in February 2023

    11.November.2022 | FASHION / SPOT

    The word ‘kawaii’ is now commonly used around the world. Sanrio is largely to thank for this, and the beloved company has announced that the 60th Anniversary Sanrio Exhibition will open at the Hokkaido Museum of Modern Art from February 11 until April 2, 2023. Advance tickets will include a discount and will be available until November 14 online. 

     

    “Sanrio celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2020, and the company continues to share Japan’s character culture with fans around the world,” Sanrio said in a comment. “Kawaii is now a universal language, and this is very much thanks to the over 450 characters that are part of Sanrio’s history, from Hello Kitty to My Melody. 

     

    This exhibition traces the history of Sanrio and guests can enjoy seeing rare materials including merchandise, publications, and early designs from the company’s founding. We want to continue to grow and develop our characters while valuing communication with our fans, ensuring that our adorable characters are loved by generations to come.”

     

    The Sanrio exhibition is something that generations of fans can enjoy, so come immerse yourself in this kawaii world! For more details, visit the official website. 

  • Naruto Anime Series Celebrates 20th Anniversary With New Gallery Featuring Collaborations With Five Animators

    10.November.2022 | ANIME&GAME / SPOT

    To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the globally popular Naruto anime series, NARUTO THE GALLERY will be held at AKIBA_SQUARE inside Akihabara UDX from December 10, 2022 until January 31, 2023. The gallery will feature collaborations with five animators. 

     

    This will be the first Naruto exhibition held since 2015. The event will focus on the growth of the characters, the bonds they share with their friends, and the many fights that have taken place over the past two decades. 

     

    Iconic scenes from the Naruto anime series will be on display in collaboration with five up-and-coming animators: Ai Niina, Kohei Kadowaki, que, Kosuke Sugimoto, and Kohta Morie. This will give fans the chance to see an unprecedented and unique view of the world of Naruto which can only be seen at the event. 

     

    Admission Bonus: Gemaki-style Card

    Goods

    An original Gemaki-style Card featuring a newly-drawn visual will be handed out to those visiting the exhibition. 

     

    The first lineup of exclusive event-only merchandise has been revealed and longtime fans of the series won’t want to miss adding some of these goods to their collection. 

     

    Participating Artists / Episode

    Ai Niina / Sasuke’s Ninja Way

    Kohei Kadowaki / Naruto’s Path

    que / The Land of Waves

    Kosuke Sugimoto / Sasuke’s Vessel

    Kohta Morie / Naruto and Kurama

     

    ©NARUTO THE GALLERY実行委員会

  • Final Fantasy Artist Yoshitaka Amano Holds Art Exhibition at Myoshin-ji in Kyoto

    10.November.2022 | FASHION

    Yoshitaka Amano, known by international fans as the artist behind the legendary Final Fantasy video game series, is celebrating his 70th birthday with a unique art project in Kyoto. 

     

    The exhibition will be held at Myoshin-ji, the head temple of the associated branch of Rinzai Zen Buddhism. Stepping into the temple, guests will be met with colorful autumn leaves and a sea of gold and blue art pieces.


    “I want people to enter this world of light and experience being part of it,” Amano said. “Rather than art being something flat on a wall, I want to present something new and unique.” This collection of works was designed to question visitors’ sensibilities and provide a new kind of art exhibition for fans to enjoy.

     

    The main art piece, newly painted by Amano himself, will be on display in the Dharma Hall, which was decorated by one of Kano Tan’yu’s masterpieces. Tan’yu was an Edo-period painter. 

     

    The three meter tall column features Amano’s own interpretation of Hiten, part of Mount Meru, a part of Buddhism cosmology considered to be the centre of all the physical, metaphysical and spiritual universes. Four smaller pieces will be displayed on all four sides to create a three-dimensional mandala. 

  • Our National Treasures: 150 Years in the Future Exhibition at Tokyo National Museum Opens Featuring Hatsune Miku

    06.November.2022 | FASHION / SPOT

    Our National Treasures: 150 Years in the Future is a new exhibition at Tokyo National Museum, and everyone’s favorite virtual diva is making an appearance! Crypton Future Media is helping to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the museum by submitting Hatsune Miku as a potential candidate for a national treasure 150 years in the future. The exhibition opened on November 2 and will run until January 29, 2023 inside the Hyokeikan at the Tokyo National Museum.

     

    The exhibition is the first event being held to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the museum and is the first exhibition in the museum’s history to be held in an open-call format. The Hyokeikan, an Important Cultural Property, represents the Western-style architecture that was in vogue during the late Meiji period. Treasures collected from both individuals and companies will be displayed as candidates for what could become national treasures in another 150 years.



    The exhibition is divided into individual and corporate submissions, with the general section displaying a variety of treasures selected from entries from all over Japan. The corporate section features important products and technology that have been responsible for the development of Japanese society, food, clothing, and housing culture, as well as examples of entertainment and sports culture from Japan that has gained popularity around the world.

     

    Hatsune Miku has been added as a potential candidate, as the virtual singer has inspired people from around the world to become more creative.

    In conjunction with the exhibition, collaborative products are also on sale. The Museum Shop inside the Tokyo National Museum’s Main Gate Plaza and the online store are now selling these unique Hatsune Miku products, so grab them while you can.

     

    What will Japanese culture look like in another 150 years?

  • Popular Illustrator and Character Designer Mika Pikazo Holds Solo Exhibition in Shibuya

    04.November.2022 | FASHION / SPOT

    Mika Pikazo is an illustrator and character designer. The artist has designed characters for many popular titles including Fire Emblem Engage, the latest in Nintendo’s Fire Emblem series, as well as book covers and CD jackets.

     

    Starting December 10, the artist will hold his second solo exhibition in three years at the Hz event space in Shibuya.

     

    According to a press release, the exhibition is being held to show a number of creations Pikazo has made recently, and aims to show off new animation and past illustrations to merge his past and future selves. The creator hopes to challenge himself more going forward.

     

    The first main visual, REVENGE, can be seen on the exhibition’s official website. A total of three visuals have been newly drawn for the event and will be released sequentially. In addition, a number of collaborative works with other creators will be on display, so art fans won’t want to miss out.

    Limited-edition merchandise featuring new illustrations will be on sale at the venue, and autograph sessions are planned to be held. For more details, check the official Twitter page!

     

    Be sure to come to see Mika Pikazo’s colorful pieces in person!

  • An Interview with Seidenba Saku: “Kawaii Is Something You Define Yourself.”

    31.October.2022 | FASHION / FEATURES

    Moshi Moshi Nippon is dedicated to sharing Japanese pop culture with audiences around the world. Recently, we launched a new interview series with foreign influencers active in Japan, and for the second edition, we’re chatting with Seidenba Saku. The face of the music group DiAN, she’s a multi-talented pop artist, writer, and designer. We asked the Beijing and Tokyo-based artist about what she thinks about Kawaii culture in Japan.

     

    -Photo1

     

    Q. Why did you first come to Japan?

    “When I was in middle school, my favorite English teacher taught me some Japanese. After that, I started to get into Japanese literature and manga, and I was really influenced by a Shuji Terayama play in high school. Japanese content started to become a part of my daily life, and I started to get curious about the country itself. I wanted to see the place where all of these amazing things were created with my own eyes. Now I’ve been in Japan for almost ten years!”

     

    -Photo2

    Q. When you first arrived in Japan, what surprised you?

    “I thought that people who dressed really eccentrically would be difficult to 

    approach. I had no idea what kinds of lives they led, and I was nervous about 

    talking to them. After coming to Japan, I realized how nice they were! 

    They work so hard, I was incredibly impressed!”

     

    Q. What do you think about Kawaii culture in Japan?

    Kawaiiといえば、日本の音楽はすごくカワイイと思います!パフォーマンスの現場、制作スタンスを問わず、音楽そのものに対する熱い思いが伝わってきます。音楽は人生にどう向き合うかを教えてくれると言っても良いと思います。そのくらい、日本の音楽には影響を受けました。

     

    -Photo3

     

    Q. How did your encounter with Kawaii culture in Japan change you?

    “My first real exposure to Kawaii culture was in middle school. I bought a ton of Japanese magazines like KERA and Gothic&Lolita Bible, and reading those made me realize that I could be who I wanted to be and dress how I wanted to dress. I could express myself as much as I wanted to. Kawaii is something you define yourself.” 

     

    -Photo 4

     

    Q.In Japan, what are you interested in right now? Where do you want to visit in the future?

    “A friend and coworker of mine in the art world recently told me that Toyama is the “Venice of Japan,” and that it’s totally different when compared to any other Japanese city. I’d like to visit, so I can see a totally unique side of Japan!”

     

    -Photo 5

     

    Q.Do you have anything to say to our readers who want to visit Japan in the future?

    “Trust your instincts and go find your own version of Kawaii!”

     

     

     

    PROFILE 

    Seidenba Saku

    Born in Beijing, Seidenba Saku is the vocalist and art director of DiAN, a three-member music group with sound producer A-bee and composer immi. She is also a writer, designer, director, and graphic artist, having worked with a number of companies in the past. Based in both Beijing and Tokyo, she continues to attract attention from audiences and industries around the world.

  • Saiyuki 25th Anniversary Art Exhibition to Open in Osaka, Tokyo, and Fukuoka

    30.October.2022 | ANIME&GAME / SPOT

    Anime and manga merchandise seller AMNIBUS will hold an exhibition to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Kazuya Minekura’s Saiyuki series! The art exhibition will be held in Osaka, Tokyo, and Fukuoka, with the Osaka event beginning on December 30, 2022, and running through January 15, 2023. The Tokyo event will run from May 12 until May 28, 2023, and the Fukuoka event will run from August 11 until September 3, 2023. Additional events will be held in other locations to be announced at a later date.


    Minekura’s Saiyuki manga series has sold over 25 million copies as of January 2021. Loosely based on the 16th-century Chinese novel Journey to the West, the series tells the story of four heroes traveling west to stop demons from killing all of mankind. Over the past 25 years, the manga series has spawned several anime adaptations, live-action musicals, video games, and more.


    The exhibition will feature plenty of must-see items for fans, from original manuscripts to full-color drawings by the original creator. Will you be attending this once-in-a-lifetime event?


    *Addition venues, exhibition details, ticket and merchandise sales information, and additional details will be announced at a later date.

     

    ©峰倉かずや/一迅社

  • 30th Anniversary Crayon Shin-chan Exhibition to Open in Ikebukuro

    19.October.2022 | ANIME&GAME / SPOT

    Crayon Shin-chan’s 30th Anniversary Exhibition will be held at Ikebukuro Sunshine City starting December 17, 2022. Humorously titled The Adventure in Ass Wonderland, the interactive exhibition will pay homage to the past three decades of the beloved anime series. In conjunction with the event, a key visual drawn especially for this exhibition has also been unveiled.

     

    This special exhibition looking back on the 30th anniversary of the anime series and films will feature many hands-on Crayon Shin-chan projects based on the theme of Shinnosuke’s butt. More details will be announced soon, so stay tuned.

     

    Advance tickets for the exhibition will be on sale starting November 17, 2022. The exhibition is also scheduled to travel to other venues in Japan beginning in 2023. See the official website for more information. 

     

    ©臼井儀人/双葉社・シンエイ・テレビ朝日・ADK

  • teamLab to Display First NFT Work ‘Matter is Void’ at teamLab Planets TOKYO in November

    17.October.2022 | FASHION / SPOT

    Art collective teamLab will exhibit its first NFT work, Matter is Void – Water, at teamLab Planets TOKYO DMM in Toyosu, Tokyo starting November 1, 2022. This is the collective’s first NFT work to be released through Pace Gallery’s NFT platform Pace Verso, and those interested can purchase one starting October 19 at 11:00 EST. Outside of Japan, the work will be exhibited for the first time in Paris at Paris+ par Art Basel, the world’s largest contemporary art fair, and on a giant billboard in Times Square in New York City. At teamLab Planets in Tokyo, the exhibit will be housed in an incredible immersive space. 

     

    The Matter is Void NFT project includes seven NFT works. One of these, titled Matter is Void – Water, will be on display at teamLab Planets.

     

    “Although only one of the seven NFTs will be for sale, anyone can download and own the overall work itself, whether or not they own the NFT. In other words, the uniqueness of the work is not conferred by the NFT, and nothing can distinguish the downloaded work.  Regardless of whether a person owns the NFT or not, it is all still authentic.

     

    teamLab’s work is titled Matter is Void. However, owners of the NFT can change this title, and this change will be reflected in all works downloaded and owned by people around the world. Even the text on exhibition at teamLab Planets will be rewritten!

     

    The value of the work change depending on the text added by NFT owners. If the words are valuable, more people will want to own it–if the words are nonsense or without value, no one will want it on display. This will keep people from writing something offensive or useless. Everyone will want to write something that will make the value increase. It’s all decided by the owners!

     

    Also, even if the NFT owner reverts back to “Matter is Void” after rewriting it in other words, the words “Matter is Void” will be written with different wording.

     

    Once the NFT is altered, it will never go back to the way it was. That makes this a more novel and exciting experience!”

  • Sanrio Characters, Representatives of Japanese Pop Culture, Gather in Kyoto

    09.October.2022 | SPOT

    The 60th Anniversary Sanrio Exhibition: The Beginning of Kawaii will be held at the Kyoto City KYOCERA Museum of Art from October 7 until December 11, 2022. Cinnamoroll, the grand prize winner of the 2022 Sanrio Character Awards, visited the event on opening day, and second place winner Pompompurin visited on October 8. 

     

    The exhibition itself traces the long and storied history of Sanrio, as the company celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2020. Guests will be able to learn more about ‘kawaii culture,’ something that has since garnered worldwide attention and become massively popular with audiences around the globe. Fans of specific Sanrio characters will be able to see how each was designed, and rare drawings and products will be on display.


    Visitors will be able to trace how Sanrio developed each character’s personality and style over time, and will surely see how the company placed major importance on communication with audiences. Sanrio’s characters continue to transcend time, popular with people of all ages.

RANKING

  • DAILY
  • MONTHLY

FOLLOW US