Vivid “Ryukyu Illustration” originating from Koza put on display for Japan

Vivid “Ryukyu Illustration” originating from Koza put on display for Japan

Masayuki Yogi showing off his unique and vivid art pieces, including the wordless picture book he published. November 3, Soranoe art gallery and workshop in Okinawa City

November 29, 2021 Ryukyu Shimpo

By Takeshi Kishimoto


Okinawa – Masayuki Yogi, 47, who creates “Ryukyu Illustrations” depicting images of southern Japan using a computer, is approaching his fifth year at the Soranoe art gallery and workshop on Palmyra Street in Okinawa City. His work has made its way throughout Japan, attracting fans at exhibitions all over the country.

After graduating from the Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts with a major in design, Yogi worked in Tokyo as a graphic designer. However, it never gave him a sense of accomplishment, so he returned to Okinawa when he was 29.

He poured himself into his pictures while working as a freelancer, devoting himself to his craft. He created his illustrations with influences from traditional art such as Bingata, Raden, Ukiyo-e and Jomon pottery, blending them with the powerful natural features of Okinawa and the southern islands, constructing a unique view of the universe.

Yogi draws Okinawan animals such as whales, tropical fish, and Okinawa rail with a pencil or pen in a unique form, then uses a computer to add vivid colors. Then, he prints the images using a high-color, high-tolerance inkjet printer.

His works, which overflow with southern Japanese imagery, started to attract attention, and were used for a long time on the covers of Okinawan prefectural and city PR brochures, as well as in collaboration with major Okinawan manufacturers. In addition to the publication of a picture book with no words featuring his unique images, he strove to expand into making other goods.

In recent years he has held exhibitions in places such as Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama, Kyoto, and Nara, and even Taiwan, attracting a large number of fans in the process.

People who have purchased his works have given a variety of reactions such as, “It gives a moving, calm feeling,” “It brightens up the room,” “I can sink into the world of the art for hours on end.” Yogi says, “Nothing makes me happier as an artist than making people excited, exhilarated.”

Yogi, who originates from Naha, wanted a mental escape from the hustle and bustle of “mini-Tokyo,” and while he wound up with a studio in the middle of Okinawa City’s main commercial area, he burst into a smile saying, “I’ve grown to appreciate Koza culture.”

The gallery is actively looking for young artists, “to be a home for art, and to invigorate the town,” by breathing new life into it. For inquiries, call 098 (988) 7848.

(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)


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