“The Pilgrimage Route” by URUSHIHARA Yuki (above), “The Sea Route” by SATONAKA Machiko (left bottom), “The Mythology Route” by YASUHIKO Yoshikazu (right bottom)

The Agency for Cultural Affairs presents “CULTURE GATE to JAPAN”

OSAKA, Japan, March 24, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — On March 20, 2021, Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs opened an art exhibition at Kansai International Airport as part of a wider project entitled “CULTURE GATE to JAPAN“. Multimedia artworks by eight artists will be exhibited at the airports and online in order to promote the appeal of Japanese culture around the world.

"The Pilgrimage Route" by URUSHIHARA Yuki (above), "The Sea Route" by SATONAKA Machiko (left bottom), "The Mythology Route" by YASUHIKO Yoshikazu (right bottom)
“The Pilgrimage Route” by URUSHIHARA Yuki (above), “The Sea Route” by SATONAKA Machiko (left bottom), “The Mythology Route” by YASUHIKO Yoshikazu (right bottom)

Since antiquity, the Kansai region of Japan has been a focal point of the country’s flourishing politics, commerce, and culture.

Even today, remnants of these historical sites and traditions remain. The diverse lifestyles and cultures found within the region were largely shaped by the surrounding geography – it’s mountains, rivers, seas, and more.

The jagged San-in coastline, created when the Japanese archipelago separated from mainland Asia millions of years ago, resulted in a number of natural harbors. Lake Biwa, the largest lake in Japan, supplied fresh water to the entire Hokuriku region.

The islands of Awaji island and Tokushima are home to some of Japan’s oldest creation myths. And the historical areas of Ise and Nara in the Kii Peninsula, with is bizarre rock formations, virgin forests, and local craft culture, are the setting for some of the country’s most enduring legends. The natural geography and resources of each area greatly influenced the development of regional culture, each with their own unique distinctions.

For this exhibition, eight areas in and around the Kansai region have been reinterpreted as “eight roads” coexisting with nature. Eight manga artists with personal connections to each area have produced works depicting the nature, culture, and people of each of these “roads”.

  • Date: Now open
  • Location: Kansai Airport Terminal 1, 2F Atrium, Canyon Bridge
  • Entrance: Free
  • Theme: LIFE
  • Artists: In alphabetical order below

“The Cape Route” – Sanin Coast

A manga artist. He was born in Saitama Prefecture, and graduated from the Department of Painting at Tama Art University. Through a unique worldview, he expresses the connection between nature and humans, the world of traditions and mythology, and the origins of life and ecosystems. In 2004, he won the Excellence Award in the 8th Japan Media Arts Festival Manga Division for his manga, “Witches” (Shogakukan Inc.). In 2009, he won the Excellence Award in both the 38th Japan Cartoonists Association Award and the 13th Japan Media Arts Festival Manga Division for his manga, “Children of the Sea” (Shogakukan Inc.). Other representative works are “Little Forest” and “Designs” (Kodansha Ltd.), “SARU” (Shogakukan Inc.), and “The Adventures of Kabocha” (Takeshobo Co., Ltd.). He has also created numerous picture books and book cover designs. “Little Forest” was made into a live-action film in Japan and Korea in 2014 and 2018, respectively. “Children of the Sea” was made into an animated movie in Japan in 2019.

“The Fruitful Route” – Tamba
KARI Sumako

She was born in Fukuoka Prefecture. After debuting in 1994 with “SWAYIN’ IN THE AIR” (“Ranmaru” published by Ohta Publishing Co.), she has been active in a wide range of genres, including girls’ comics and youth comics. Her manga are characterized by stories woven with a unique humor and sensitive psychological descriptions, and distinctive characters. She has earned a strong following from readers. Her outstanding works include “Kayo-chan no Nimotsu” (Takeshobo Co., Ltd.), “Ibara Ra Lullaby” (Kodansha Ltd.), “Nohara Nohara no” (Taiyotosho Co.), and “Ikuhyaku Seiso” (Ohta Publishing Co.). In 2006, “Family Restaurant” (Ohta Publishing Co.) was made into a movie. In 2020, she won the Excellence Award in the 23rd Japan Media Arts Festival Manga Division for her manga, “Ashita Shinuniha (If I Might Die Tomorrow)” (Ohta Publishing Co.).

“The Sea Route” – Awaji Island and Tokushima

She was born in Osaka Prefecture in 1948. In her second year of high school, she won the 1st Kodansha New Faces Award with “Portrait of Pia” and later became a professional manga artist. Many of her works deal with history. She completed “Celestial Rainbow”, which features Empress Jito as the main character, after 32 years. Her representative works include “Tomorrow Will Shine”, “Ladies of Aries”, “Aurora of the Ocean”, “Cypress Hill”, “Constellation of the Hunter”, and “Kojiki: Manga Koten Bungaku”. In 2006, she was awarded the Japanese Ministry of Culture and Science Achievement Certificate for Lifetime Works and Cultural Activities. She has won many other awards, such as the Commendation of the Commissioner of the Agency for Cultural Affairs (2010), the Kojiki Publishing Grand Prize’s Ono Yasumaro Award for “Kojiki: Manga Koten Bungaku” (2013), and the Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation (2014). In addition to being a manga artist, she is also involved in a range of activities related to popularizing manga and culture. These include being a professor at Osaka University of Arts, being the director of the Japan Cartoonists Association, and the representative of the NPO Asian Manga Summit Administering Authority Japan.

“The Water Route” – Lake Biwa and Hokuriku

An illustrator and manga artist. She was born in Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture and lives in Isumi, Chiba Prefecture. She graduated from the Department of International and Cultural Studies at Tsuda University. Her work is characterized by warm water-painting colors gained from ideas based on day-to-day life, and expressions that leave blank spaces and suggestiveness. Sekine won the Excellence Award in the 9th Japan Media Arts Festival Manga Division for her first picture book, “a continuous day” (Shinpusha). Her illustrations include “Sora no Teppen Giniro no Kaze” (Komine Shoten/assigned reading book for the 51st National Youth Book Report Contest), “Saigo no Jugyo” (Poplar Publishing Co., Ltd.), “Yasashii Oto” (Komine Shoten/winner of the 28th Niimi Nankichi Children’s Literature Award), “Asu no Konai Kuni” (serialized novel, Asahi Shogakusei Shimbun). Her works as a manga artist include “Yuruyuru Makurobi Seikatsu Kantan Genmai Saishoku Comic Essay” (Kadokawa Co.).

“The Pilgrimage Route” – Kii Peninsula

She was born in Yamaguchi Prefecture in 1974. Her manga series, “Mushishi” (Book title: “The Light of the Eyelid”) won the Grand Prix in the Afternoon Four Seasons Award in 1998 and debuted in commercial publications. “Mushishi” was turned into an anime in 2005 and a movie in 2007. Her works are distinguished by a nostalgic and in some respects painful world, and a lyrical style that doesn’t sway from mundanely and delicately depicting the inexplicable in that setting. “Mushishi” won the Excellence Award in the 7th Japan Media Arts Festival Manga Division and the 30th Kodansha Manga Award in the General Division. Her outstanding works include “Mushishi” (Kodansha Ltd.), “Suiiki” (Kodansha Ltd.), and “Neko ga Nishimukya” (Kodansha Ltd.).

“The Crafts Route” – Fukui, east Lake Biwa, and Mie
YAMADA Yoshihiro

He was born in Niigata Prefecture in 1968. In 1987, he debuted as a manga artist while in university in the then-titled weekly publication, “Comic Morning” with the manga, “Taisho Yaro”, which was awarded the Chiba Tetsuya Prize by Kodansha Ltd. To this day, he continues to consistently pursue portraying “the Japanese people”. His distinctive characters that possess a strong destiny and stories of highly original dramatic nature have garnered solid support that exceeds genres. His representative works include “Decathlon” (Shogakukan Inc.), “Dokyo-Boshi” (Shogakukan Inc. and Kodansha Ltd.), “Giant” (Kodansha Ltd.), and “Hyouge Mono” (Kodansha Ltd.). He won the Excellence Award in the 13th Japan Media Arts Festival Manga Division in 2009 and the Grand Prize in the 14th Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize for his manga, “Hyouge Mono”. Currently, his serialized work “Bokyo Taro” (from 2019) is appearing in the weekly publication, “Morning”.

“The Mythology Route” – Ise and Nara
YASUHIKO Yoshikazu

He was born in Hokkaido in 1947 and has worked as an animator since 1970. YASUHIKO was involved in works such as “Space Battleship Yamato” (1974), “Brave Raideen” (1976), and “Invincible Super Man Zambot 3” (1977). In “Mobile Suit Gundam” (1979), he played a central role in creating the animation, serving as the animation director and taking charge of character design. Later, he began working full-time as a manga artist from 1989. He has been involved in many projects with an historical theme, from works based on Japan’s ancient history and mythology to works based on Japan’s modern history. He won the Excellence Award in the 19th Japan Cartoonists Association Award for “Namuji”, and the Excellence Award in the 4th Japan Media Arts Festival Manga Division for “Oudo no Inu”. “Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin” won the 43rd Seiun Award (Best Comic).

“The Artisans’ Route” – Harima

An artist and manga artist. He was born in Miyazaki Prefecture in 1967. YOKOYAMA graduated from the Department of Painting at Musashino Art University. He debuted in 2004 with the book, “New Engineering”. YOKOYAMA’s manga, called neo-manga, do not contain clear story development. Depictions of actions that are unfriendly and devoid of understood aims are carried out by several characters, and mysterious objects move and morph to express the pure passage of time. His representative works include “Travel”, “NIWA”, “Baby Boom“, and “World Map Room”. He is also an artist who has held many private exhibitions in Japan and abroad. His manga, “Baby Boom” earned a Jury Selection in the 14th Japan Media Arts Festival Manga Division.


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