When I decided to come to Japan for a year (18 years ago), I had no idea how much this country suits my personality. However, it did not take me long to notice how important cuteness is in Japanese culture. So I can easily see why Snoopy is so well-loved here.
The Snoopy Japanesque exhibit was held at Hankyu Department store in Umeda. I made a date to go with my darling husband and when I saw the works, I was so moved that I had to fight hard to retain my composure, for fear of embarrassing DH.
There were two parts to the exhibit. In the main display, I saw familiar traditional Japanese crafts including lacquer ware, kimonos, and pottery representing 20 regions across Japan. However, the reason that we came was to see the calligraphy. This section was aptly entitled Peanuts: Found in Translation. To my amateur eyes, calligraphy could not be a better medium for representing Snoopy. Black ink on white rice paper and the lines really suit Charles Schulz’s drawings of his famous characters. Yoshiteru Otani’s works playfully and wittily incorporate kanji ideograms with the familiar Peanuts characters.
To our delight, the artist was there that day to sign autographs, but he was not around the moment that we arrived at his table. My quick-thinking husband knows how much both my mother and I adore Snoopy. He explained to the exhibit staff that we wanted to send my mother in Toronto a copy of the books that the artist was signing. We were asked to wait a moment, and lo and behold–a few minutes later the artist appeared! We exchanged a few pleasantries in English and he was happy to autograph the books for us.
I learned a few things about Snoopy that day, and I was able to enjoy the art for its own sake. So if you appreciate calligraphy and enjoy reading Peanuts as much as I do, I urge you to see this exhibit when it comes to your town.