Summer in Japan and ghost stories have always been a pair. With this extremely hot summer and the constant typhoons, I ventured on a chilling adventure to the GeGeGe no Kitarou exhibition held at Sunshine City, Ikebukuro, in Tokyo.
GeGeGe no Kitarou (ゲゲゲの鬼太郎) is one of Japan’s most treasured classic manga, started in the 1960s by the late Mizuki Shigure. The manga works as an incorporation of traditional Japanese folklore, considering its many unique demon and spirit characters from all over Japan, and has been loved by many from both inside and outside Japan for decades.
The exhibition featured the life of the genius that is Mizuki Shigure and his beloved characters, as well as his original works and life-size models of his creations. What was quite intriguing about this detailed exhibition was the reflection it has upon Japanese beliefs. Before the age of science and technology, each phenomenon observed was reasoned through this folklore and beliefs in the unseen. Not only are these beings, yokai (妖怪), a popular subject in Japanese pop culture, but it is also the very core reflection of the connections that traditional Japanese people have with nature and their surroundings.
GeGeGe no Kitarou is not only loved for its story line and characters but also for the talent and love that Mizuki Shigure poured into each piece. Imagine if you will a time when everything was drawn by hand instead of through the technologies that we have today. Mizuki Shigure’s work is known to be extremely detailed and looking at it up close leaves me in awe. For every line and dot that forms the textures of his work is unbelievably thin, showing us the amount of attention and time put into them.
Though the work has been around for a long time, the fans that came to experience his work range from small children (though some of them were quite terrified I'm sure) to the elderly, a fact which truly brings out how treasured this work is in the eyes of those who have read it. Some fans even felt that because they grew up with GeGeGe no Kitarou, though the author has passed, the stories will always hold a dear place in their hearts. This exhibition was intended to celebrate the life and work of Mizuki Shigure, but it seems that it also brought a lot of people together who share the same love, where they can relive the memories that are GeGeGe no Kitarou.