2017 No.21

Japan’s Cutting-Edge Pop


From Ukiyo-e to Sushi to VR—Japanese Pop Is Tough

Artist KASICO is front and center in Japan’s pop culture scene. Featured on the cover of this issue is a previously unpublished work.

“To visually express the fast-changing pop scene here in Japan, I drew the colors and motifs I feel at present in the world of traditional beauty symbolized by ukiyo-e. Such fusion is, to me, the essence of ‘Nippon’ (Japan).”

KASICO goes on to say that Japanese pop culture is, in both a positive and a negative sense, “something quite messy.” He also considers this aspect unique to Japan and what distinguishes its pop culture from others.

“Buzzes happen every which way, making it impossible for we Japanese to thoroughly follow them all. In other words, ours is one huge pop culture molded as a cornucopia of many diverse elements—some from overseas and others from Japan, all coming together in a spectacular well-rounded form. That’s what makes our scene truly remarkable.”

Original illustration “Recurrence”

Japanese pop is never skewed, and there are small buzzes constantly arising across the scene. While this may reflect the Japanese mentality of uniformity and conformity, there are also movements that operate in contrast to the general order, moving toward a more individual approach. Shy or not shy? This duality is another facet of the reality of Japan’s pop culture that KASICO addresses.

“What’s important is to be pop. And “pop” equals staying power. By simplifying designs, we can make our form of expression tougher. In Japan, new trends crop up one after another, and most burn out—fast. The survivors are the tough ones with staying power. That’s why Japanese pop culture is well received around the world.”


Art director / graphic artist. Branches out in 2013 after working for a design firm. Focusing on music, ads and creative direction for girl culture, he shines overall in straightforward expression incorporating graphics, movies, animation, and textile design. Operates a new type of visual fashion website, Graphic Girl, featuring portrait photos and GIF animation.
http://kasico.jp/ (Japanese)

An opening movie of TV program

A key visual of HARAJUKU KAWAii!! WEEK 2015