Agency for Cultural Affairs, Goverment of Japan

with nature

Kansai International Airport

The Kansai International Airport exhibition theme is “LIFE.” Eight manga artists depict culture in eight areas around Kansai.
Since long ago, government, commerce, and culture have thrived in the Kansai region throughout Japan’s history, and even today historic sites and traditions remain in various areas. Behind the diverse cultures and lifestyles of each area exists the nature of the land, such as the sea, mountains, and rivers that made such diversity possible. These areas are Sanin Kaigan, a coastline of varied features that was created when the Japanese islands separated from the Asian Continent; Harima that developed as a hub for transportation; Lake Biwa and Hokuriku where the benefits of water are closely connected to lifestyles and faith; Tamba that cultivates unique farm products; Awaji Island and Tokushima where the legend of Kuniumi endures; Ise and Nara that are linked with ancient mythology; the Kii Peninsula that has strangely shaped rocks and the pilgrimage route that winds through the virgin forests; and Fukui, the east bank of Lake Biwa, and Mie where an abundance of crafts and culture remain. The characteristics of the nature found in each area significantly impacted the regions’ lifestyles and ecosystems, and cultivated unique cultures.
This exhibition reframes the eight areas around Kansai as “Eight Routes” from the standpoint of coexisting with nature. Eight manga artists who possess worldviews that link to each area depict nature, culture, and people’s lifestyles based on the theme of each route.

Location: Kansai Airport Terminal 1, 2F Atrium, Canyon Bridge

Exhibition theme

Coexistence with nature

Exhibition list

The Cape Route (Sanin Coast) IGARASHI Daisuke

Artist's Comment
There is an abundance of nature in the Sanin Coast terrain, which is filled with diverse landscapes, and the lifestyles of the people living there have been nurtured by that nature. There are too many such captivating elements, and it was difficult to narrow my focus. For this project, I let the stork represent the richness of nature. The exhibit is structured around the image of riding on its back and exploring various sites. I depicted the thoughts of people living there in the performing arts born from lifestyles, and the history of each in episodes of mythology. The living creatures that coexist with humans add color to the work.
The Cape Route (Sanin Coast) Details
This route that passes along the coastline from Kyoto to Tottori is “The Cape Route”. Sanin Kaigan is a coastline of varied features that has been registered as a UNESCO Global Geopark. Sanin Kaigan’s coastline of varied features was created when the Japanese islands separated from the Asian Continent. Today it still produces unique terrain and ecosystems in this area. In addition, people have carried out lifestyles unique to the coastline against the backdrop of its nature.
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 Artisans’ Route (Harima) YOKOYAMA Yuichi

Artist's Comment
These two works that illustrate the distress of the men who created tiles and Japanese swords are titled, “Tiles and Swords.” (Note: The actual manufacturing process is not faithfully portrayed.) Please read them both from left to right. What I really wanted to depict are the faces of the artisans who appear and of the group of spectators (various people appear).

Translation : Ryan HOLMBERG
The Artisans’ Route (Harima) Details
The Harima area has once prospered as a transportation hub that connected Japan’s Kinki and Chugoku regions since ancient times. This area had at its center Himeji Castle, and boasted a rich culture steeped in ways of the samurai such as Zen Buddhism and tea ceremony. A wide range of other technologies and cultures has also thrived, evolving over time to connect to the present age, including the plaster and smoked roofing tiles used on Himeji Castle (nicknamed “White Heron Castle”), sword smithing that has existed since the days of the traditional tatara smelting furnaces, and sake brewing which was praised in Edo (modern-day Tokyo) and still stands today as one of the leading sake producing regions in the country.
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 “The Room of the World Map.” 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.

The Water Route (Lake Biwa and Hokuriku) SEKINE Yuki

Artist's Comment
I was given the theme “The Water Route” that continues from Fukui to Lake Biwa and Kyoto. I was especially fascinated by Chikubu Island, which floats on Lake Biwa and is home to the god of water, Ryujin. My illustrations focus on Chikubu. In the moments during day-to-day life when you feel thirsty or quenched, it may be that you’ve encountered Ryujin—such a thing could be possible. I myself live near the sea, and when creating this project I explored the nearby beach.
The Water Route (Lake Biwa and Hokuriku) Details
The route that spans from Hokuriku to Lake Biwa is “The Water Route”. Starting with the largest freshwater lake in Japan, Lake Biwa, plentiful water resources have not only quenched people’s thirst, but have also sustained people’s lives as important means of traffic and transportation. People are thankful for the blessing of water, and various beliefs have been developed that are linked to water. You can witness those beliefs that have been passed down even to present day through related temples/shrines and rituals.
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) URUSHIBARA Yuki

Artist's Comment
I was already interested in the landscape and history of the Kumano Kodo and have walked along it just a little. It was a place where I keenly sensed the power of the huge trees, the purity of the air, and the thoughts of the innumerable pilgrims who traversed the rugged mountains. In this project, I illustrated the pilgrimage route linking Koyasan, Kumano, and Yoshino. Based on my memories of that time, I feel like I’ve traveled even further. In addition, I became aware of many attractive sites that I didn’t know about, and I now want to visit again. I’ll be happy if I’m able to communicate as much of that allure as possible.

The Pilgrimage Route (Kii Peninsula) Details
The theme for the Kii Peninsula is “The Pilgrimage Route”. Mountains covered in virgin forests deep in the Kii Mountains and a terrain of numerous giant rocks inspire reverence for nature in people. A variety of beliefs have been nurtured that mix with foreign religions, including nature worship. In particular, the three sacred sites of Kumano Sanzan, Koyasan, and Yoshino/Omine and their pilgrimage routes have been registered as a World Cultural Heritage in recognition of the value of the cultural landscape born within the history of pilgrimages.
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 Mythology Route (Ise and Nara) YASUHIKO Yoshikazu

Artist's Comment
The combined areas of Yamato and Ise are an important setting in stories depicting the legendary hero, Yamato Takeru. Ancient Japan, veiled in mystery, was home to many such heroes whose presence can still be felt to this day.
The Mythology Route (Ise and Nara) Details
This route from Nara to Ise is “The Mythology Route”. This area was also where government and culture originated In the dawn of ancient Japan. In the “Kojiki” (Records of Ancient Matters), the oldest historical record of Japan in existence, the history of that time was written as a compilation of myths. The ancient tombs and historic sites of Nara, and Ise-jingu Shrine, the top Japanese Shinto shrine, convey images of the Kojiki era to present day. It is an area where historical ruins and unexplained mysteries kindle people’s imaginations.
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.

The Sea Route (Awaji Island and Tokushima) SATONAKA Machiko

Artist's Comment
According to mythology, the first land of Japan was created by the couple, Izanami and Izanagi. Since ancient times, the Japanese people must have acutely felt that creations are born from cooperation between men and women. While I believe that modern thinking is wonderful, I illustrated the scene where Japan’s very first couple created Awaji Island. The airport is the gateway to dreams and the future, so I hope you’ll feel an aura filled with the expectation that new worlds will be formed in the future.
The Sea Route (Awaji Island and Tokushima) Details
This route that crosses the Seto Inland Sea from Awaji Island to Tokushima is “The Sea Route”. This sea is known for features such as the Naruto whirlpools, which are said to be one of the world's three greatest currents. It is the setting for the first story in Japan’s oldest historical record, the “Kojiki” that details the Kuniumi (Japan’s Creation Myth). The creation myth says the two gods, Izanagi and Izanami first created Awaji Island in the center of this area, then one by one forged the islands that form the Japanese Islands. In this area you can sense the enduring history as you gaze out at the sea.
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 Fruitful Route (Tamba) KARI Sumako

Artist's Comment
The theme I was given for this project is “The Fruitful Route”. I portrayed two women spending four seasons in the Tamba area. I hope that I’ve conveyed as much as possible the beauty of nature in the wisteria and autumn foliage, and the impressive, lively feel of various events. I also want to communicate the appeal of delicious-looking Tamba adzuki beans.
The Fruitful Route (Tamba) Details
The theme for the Tamba area is “The Fruitful Route”. This area once called Tamba Province is known as a treasure trove of abundant foods, which gave rise to the theory that the name stems from the image of billowing ears of rice. In this area the climate of the Sea of Japan side and the climate of the Seto Inland Sea side mingle. Since long ago, unique farm products have been harvested here and are familiar under the brand name, Tamba. The fruitful four seasons are particularly evident in this area among village forests, the original landscapes of Japan.
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 comics on male homosexuality, 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, “To Die Tomorrow,” (Ohta Publishing Co.).

The Crafts Route (Fukui, east Lake Biwa, and Mie) YAMADA Yoshihiro

Artist's Comment
I detailed regional handicrafts from that area that also influenced my manga, “Hyouge Mono”. If Sabae eyeglasses became obsolete, you probably wouldn’t be able to get good eyeglasses. Putting aside the various reasons, I very much want eyeglasses made from celluloid, not acetate. With the desire to value traditions, I purposefully used the Shigaraki ware tanuki (raccoon dogs) as products from the Edo period. I sense a simple appeal in Echizen lacquer ware and Echizen ware. I want nothing more than for them to endure forever, so I’d be honored if my work can contribute to new discoveries.
The Crafts Route (Fukui, east Lake Biwa, and Mie) Details
The route that goes from Mie through the east bank of Lake Biwa to Fukui is “The Crafts Route”. Against a backdrop of nature’s blessings, including soil and an abundance of trees and water, a culture of crafts has developed that uses those natural blessings as materials. The crafts include Iga ware and Shigaraki ware created from potter’s clay, and Omi jofu cloth that utilizes the bountiful water. The area is known for numerous crafted products, such as Echizen lacquer ware, Echizen paper, and Echizen knives. The spirit of craft making has been passed down, and even today the artisans continue to take up new challenges.
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.”

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