Hokusai Graphic: The Art You Can Wear

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“Our visit taught me that it pays to understand the cultural impact and the influence of tradition to the things we enjoy and sometimes even take for granted nowadays.”

When we talk about art, some images immediately comes to mind: Paintings, sculptures, and decorative vases from centuries ago. Most of them have similar characteristics: they cannot be touched, they cannot be used and are for your eyes only.

But what if I were to tell you that there exists a form of artwork in Japan that was so powerful it inspired and motivated even the great Impressionist artists such as Monet and Van Gogh? Its influence so vast that it became a part of the “Blue Revolution” and ultimately inspired the concepts of an existing form of ‘usable art’: Hokusai Graphic.

From a glance, you may notice Hokusai Graphic stores all over Japan. The beautiful array of colors and designs may even catch your eyes for a moment without you realizing what you’re looking at. For you are staring at artworks inspired by the world-renowned Japanese artist and Ukiyo-e painter Katsushika Hokusai.

We decided to see for ourselves the beauty of such usable art or in many cases, wearable art. And where else is the perfect store to visit if not in Asakusa, one of the pinnacles of fashion on the planet? A trip there is another one to add to your bucket list. Here is our experience.

Inside the store you will find different arrays of umbrellas, raincoats and even Yukata. The ones which are particularly popular among women lately are products with handles made from natural bamboos. They also offer different Hokusai patterns from flowers to landscapes to sumo wrestlers. What I loved most is their “un-tout-cas” umbrellas which combines the look of an umbrella and a parasol.

One of the things I also would like to highlight is how inclusive their store is when it comes to gender. They also offer a vast array of umbrellas with colors and patterns suitable for men.

One of the staff we interviewed shares that their designing process is very traditional that it undergoes more than 100 stages and some of the umbrellas even includes the use of “Washi” or traditional Japanese papers. We also learned that the use of umbrellas flourished through the influence of “Sukeroku” or “The Flower of Edo” which was a Kabuki performance during the Edo era which made use of umbrellas.

I think it is true that you can never truly tell the value of a thing just by taking it at face value. Sometimes, it pays to dig deeper and understand the cultural importance and the influence of tradition to the things we enjoy and sometimes even take for granted nowadays. To start your dig, I recommend checking out the Hokusai Graphic store in Asakusa for yourself, and see what treasures you find.

All images for this article were provided by Zygel Doll Jamelano. An expanded version of this article is also available on Zeefinity.

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Zygel Doll Jamelano

From the Philippines
Has experienced Japan for 2 years!