Horyukaku: Harmonizing Traditional Japanese and European Designs

An Illustration Inspired by Japanese Classic Literature

Inspiration for the illustrations come from Japanese classic literature Nanso Satomi Hakkenden. This work depicts a scene where the cornered hero fights on the castle Horyukaku. He is desperately climbing on the roof to survive. A popular scene in Kabuki. Japanese classical literature is becoming unfamiliar even to the Japanese. However, its charm has not faded even today.

The Horyukaku illustration, created by designer Nico Aihara, is a unique blend of traditional Japanese and European designs. Drawing inspiration from the Japanese classic literature Nanso Satomi Hakkenden, this artwork captures a dramatic scene from Kabuki where the hero fights for survival on the castle Horyukaku. The intricate details and vibrant colors transport viewers to a world of fantasy and evoke a sense of nostalgia.

The strength of this design lies in its harmonious fusion of traditional Japanese motifs with the styles of Art Nouveau and Art Deco. The frame is adorned with hand-drawn peony and plum flowers, commonly found in traditional Japanese patterns. This combination creates a visual feast that pays homage to the commercial designs of the Meiji and Taisho eras in Japan.

To achieve the vintage aesthetic, Aihara employed a unique process. The illustration was first hand-drawn and then colored in Photoshop, resulting in a high-quality vintage design. The final artwork measures 4556 x 6891 pixels with a resolution of 600dpi, making it suitable for printing on various paper sizes.

Aside from its visual appeal, the Horyukaku illustration serves as a gateway to classical literature. By capturing the attention of viewers, it invites them to explore the world of Japanese classics and discover the charm that still resonates today. The design project began in January 2019 and was completed in April 2019, showcasing the dedication and meticulousness of the designer.

Acknowledging its excellence and creativity, the Horyukaku illustration was awarded the Bronze A' Design Award in the Graphics, Illustration, and Visual Communication Design category in 2023. This prestigious accolade is bestowed upon designs that exhibit strong technical and creative skills, contributing to improvements in quality of life and making the world a better place.

With its captivating storytelling, harmonious design, and nostalgic charm, the Horyukaku illustration by Nico Aihara is a testament to the enduring beauty of Japanese classical literature and the power of art to transport us to different worlds.

Project Details and Credits

Project Designers: Aihara Nico
Image Credits: Image #1-5 : Illustrator / Aihara Nico
Project Team Members: Aihara Nico
Project Name: Horyukaku
Project Client: Aihara Nico

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