Ben Kimura

The Art of Ben Kimura

Born in 1947, Ben Kimura (木村べん) was a Japanese artist known for his gay erotic artwork. As noted by historian and artist Gengoroh Tagame, he and Sadeo Hasogawa were among the central figures in Japan’s resurgence of gay artwork in the 1970s.  

Ben Kimura began his career in 1978 as an illustrator and cover artist for “Barazoku”, Japan’s first commercially circulated gay men’s magazine. The monthly magazine, edited by Bungaku Itō, began publication in July of 1971 and published four-hundred issues, the last being in 2008. Kimura was a regular art contributor until his departure in 1989. During this time, he was also a major contributor for cover and story illustrations for “Sabu”magazine. 

Kimura also contributed illustrations to the early yaoi magazines “June” and “Allan”, both male to male romance-fiction magazines for a female audience. His work for these magazines placed him among the first gay artists to achieve crossover success with a female audience. 

Ben Kimura’s artwork was highly sought after by the Japanese gay publications throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Unique among contemporary Japanese homoerotic artists, his work typically depicted masculine, handsome men rendered in a style that was romantic and sensual rather than explicitly pornographic. Kimura’s fit and stylish young men evoked both familiarity and a sense of nostalgia for life’s past encounters . 

In addition to work done for periodicals, Kimura self-published two collections of his homoerotic illustrations. The first collection was the 1997  “Tan-Pan Body (画集)” which was primarily a collection of cover art done for Sabu magazine prior to 1997. Kimura’s second collection “Go-One Boy (作品集)” was published in 1998. 

Ben Kimura died from a pulmonary embolism at the age of fifty-six on the eighteenth of February in 2003. As a tribute, a second printing of his “Tan-Pan Body” was reissued shortly after his death. Kimura’s collected works are managed by his partner and artistic executor Kihira Kai. 

Keisuke Yamamoto

Stone Lithographs by Keisuke Yamamoto

Born in Osaka in 1961, Keisuke Yamamoto is a Japanese lithographer and painter known for his still lifes and landscape images. He graduated in 1986 from historical Kanazawa’s College of Art and Design with a Master of Fine Arts in Oil Painting and then studied lithographic techniques at a printing studio. Since his graduation, Yamamoto has been an independent painter and lithography artist. He currently lives and works in Kyoto where he maintains his atelier.

Lithography, in essence, requires clear systematic planning in its execution; errors can not be corrected. Yamamoto’s hand-drawn stone lithographs, although appearing simplistic, required great forethought and skill in carving. His work does not contain any narrative but instead focuses on the incredible stillness of a moment in time. The beauty of Yamamoto’s work is created by the interactions between time, silence, light and shadow, the composition of which places the viewer as an observing visitor.

In his “Light, Time, Silence” begun in 1992, Keisuke Yamamoto created a series of lithographs which reconstructed three recurring elements, chairs, stairs and windows, which were arranged in multiple settings with different lighting conditions. The main theme for this series was the conception of the natural flow of time. To achieve this, Yamamoto had to depict the surrounding spaces as well as the gradation of light with great accuracy. He was aware that our ability to see and understand the world visually was based on the light that reflected off various objects. Upon light entering our eyes, our brains process the information and present it to us as a particular object with a particular color and shape. Yamamoto understood the illustration of the visual world depends actually on the depiction of light; and the flow of time must be illustrated through changes in that light.

Keisuke Yamamoto is represented in the United States by the Davidson Galleries, a collection of nearly twenty-thousand works on paper, which is located on Occidental Avenue South in Seattle, Washington. His works can be seen at:

Top Insert Image: Keisuke Yamamoto, “Apple Tree”, 1961/2013, Lithograph, AP, 38.1 x 60.1 cm, Davidson Galleries

Bottom Insert Image: Keisuke Yamamoto, “Sea Breeze B”, 1961, Lithograph, “Light, Time, Silence” Series, Edition of 20, 30.2 x 20 cm, Davidson Galleries

Kintsugi (金継ぎ): The Golden Joinery

Kintsugi (金継ぎ): The Golden Joinery

Translated poetically as ‘golden repair’ Kintsukurai, or ‘golden journey’ Kintsugi, is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery, which became the common practice of restoration by the 17th century.

The kintsugi technique may have been invented around the fifteenth century, under the rule of Ashikaga Yoshimasa, the eighth shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate. This seems plausible because the invention of kintsugi is set in a very fruitful era for art in Japan. Under Yoshimasa’s rule, the city saw the development of the Higashiyama Bunka cultural movement that was heavily influenced by Zen Buddhism; the start of the tea ceremony Sado or the Way of Tea; the tradition of Ikebana called Kado or Way of Flowere; the Noh theater; and the Chinese style of ink painting.

The repair of the broken pottery is achieved by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e (蒔絵) technique, which was used for decoration purposes on pottery. The glue traditionally used to bring the pieces together is the urushi lacquer, which is being sourced for thousands of years from the Rhus verniciflua plant.

Once the repairs are completed, beautiful seams of gold  and silver glint in the conspicuous cracks of the ceramic wares. Every repaired piece is unique, because of the randomness with which ceramics shatters and the irregular patterns formed that are enhanced with the use of metals.

Kintsugi does not disguise the breakage but, philosophically, treats the breakage and the repair as part of the history of the object. The art of Kintsugi has similarities to the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Marks of wear by the use of an object are valued by Japanese aesthetics. The repair marks are highlighted, proof of an event in the object’s lifetime, and the object is allowed to continue its existence.

Kintsugi is comprised of three predominant styles: the crack; the piece-method; and the joint-call. In each case the pottery is repaired by a gold, silver, or platinum-dusted epoxy; however the finished results and the techniques used vary.

The most common method of repair is the crack approach where objects are mended with a minimal of lacquer. This method culminates in shining veins of precious metal, which defines the art form. Works restored with the piece-method feature replacement fragments made entirely of gilded epoxy. Pottery repaired using the joint-call technique employ similarly-shaped pieces from other broken wares, combining the two aesthetically different works into one unique unified piece. 

Images are reblogged from kintsugi artisan Joseph Weaver’s site:

Hideo Takeda

Hideo Takeda, , “Yoshisune, Escape from Kyoto”, Date Unknown, Silkscreen, The Genpei War Series “Battle of the Genji and the Heike”, Edition of 185

Hideo Takeda was born in Osaka, Japan in 1948. He attended Tokyo’s Tama Fine Arts University, graduating in 1973 with an Master of Arts in Sculpture. Inspired by American-style cartoons and illustrations, he decided to become a cartoonist. His graduation submission for Tama Fine Arts University was a self-published book entitled “Madam Chen’s Chinese Restaurant” which consisted of one-panel cartoons. In his later years, he continued publishing one-panel collections including the 1976 “Opera Glass”, the 1986 “Sketchbook of 100 Kinds of Professions”, and the 1987 “The Poisons”.

At the age of twenty-seven, after giving several one-man shows of his work, Takeda won the Bungeishunju Manga-sho Award for his portfolio “Monmon”, a collection of eleven silkscreens focusing on the art of tattoos. In 1985, one of his best known silkscreens, “The Mark of the Fan”, showing an ancient warrior riding a horse through blue waves, appeared on the cover of art historian Lawrence Smith’s “Contemporary Japanese Prints: Symbols of a Society in Transition”. This print was one of Takeda’s Gempie series which marked the 800th anniversary of the Battle of Dan-no-Ura, the climax of the civil war between the Taira and Minamoto families.

In 1993 at the British Museum, Hideo Takeda had the first one-man show dedicated to the Japanese art of manga, entitled “Takeda Hideo and the Japanese Cartoon Tradition”. Manga, developed in Japan in the late 18th century, are graphic novels of illustrative panels presenting a broad range of genres from comedy and historical to horror and erotica. Takeda’s most recent works are a series of drawings and books titled “World Night Tours”, published in 2012.

Insert Image: Hideo Takeda, “The Training of Ushiwaka-Maru”, Genpei Series, Edition of 185, 1985, Silkscreen Print, 62.6 x 48.2 cm

An extensive collection of his Hideo Takada’s work can be found on his website located at:



Samurai Champloo

“Samurai Champloo” is a Japanese anime series developed by the Japanese animation and production company Manglobe. The production team was lead by director Shinichiro Watanabe, character designer Kazuto Nakazawa and mechanical designer Mahiro Maeda. This series was Watanabe’s first directorial effort for an anime television series after his critically acclaimed “Cowboy Bebop”.  “Samurai Champloo” ran for twenty-six episodes from May of 2004 until March of 2005.

The series blended historical Edo-period backdrops with modern styles and references. The show dealt with the Shimabara Rebellion in Edo-era Japan, the restriction of Japanese foreign relations exclusive of the Netherlands, the art of ukiyo-e painting, and fictionalized appearances of real-life Edo-era personalities. Artistic license trumped accuracy and the music score used contemporary music.

Kôichi Imaizumi, “Berlin Drifters”

Kôichi Imaizumi, “Berlin Drifters”, Trailer, 2017, Habakari Cinema Research, Jurgen Bruning Filmproduction

Pinku eiga star and intense adult director Kôichi Imaizumi teamed with Japan’s prominent adult manga author for the film “Berlin Drifters”. A low-budget, all-hands-on-deck affair, “Berlin Drifters “ unites a who’s who of Asian and European eroticists, from Dutch porn star Michael Selvaggio and German self-described erotic photographer Claude Kolz to Chinese LGBT activist and dramatist Xiaogang Wei. Most notable, however, could be the participation of Japanese gay erotica artist Gengoroh Tagame, most easily described as Japan’s Tom of Finland.

Imaizumi is perhaps best known as a pinku eiga actor — the soft-core Japanese mini-features, celebrated in last year’s Nikkastu Roman Porno Series and which have given some of the country’s most prominent filmmakers their starts. As a director, Imaizumi dabbled with graphic sex in both “The Secret to My Silky Skin”, starring Majima, and the troubling sci-fi rape comedy “The Family Complete”.

Imaizumi’s hallmarks of sexuality and masculinity are present in “Berlin Drifters”,  but also the insights regarding acceptance and the stigmas surrounding homosexuality in Japan. “Berlin Drifters” was shown at the Hong Kong Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. Sales of the film are through Habakari Cinema Research.

Dragon Fish Shachihoko

Artist Unknown, Dragon Fish Shachihoko, Edo Period, Bronze, 160 x 86 x 43 cm, Private Collection

This bronze Shachihoko, or roof decoration, is in the form of a dragon fish with bushy eyebrows and whiskers, flared nostrils, a spiny dorsal fin, and four large pectoral fins. His body, covered with the scales of a carp, has a large flared tail fin. With only remnants of the gilding existing, the dragon fish has weathered into a green patina. 

Originally completely gilded, this Shachihoko would have adorned the gable end of either a temple roof or a samurai dwelling. Attributed with the power to control rain, this creature was thought to provide protection from fire. 


Calendar: November 3

A Year: Day to Day Men: 3rd of November

The Redness of the World

November 3, 1928 was the birthdate of Japanese manga artist and film producer Osamu Tezuka.

Osamu Tezuka was born in the Osaka Perfecture of Japan. Drawing from a early age, he continued his manga skills throughout his school years, creating his first adept amateur works. In 1945, Tezuka was accepted into Osaka University in the field of medicine. It was during tihis time that he began publishing his first professional works.

After the end of World War II, at the age of seventeen, Osamu Tezuka published his first work, “Diary of Ma-chan”, a collection of four-panel comic strips about a small pre-school boy. After a discussion with fellow manga artist Shichima Sakai, Tezuka completed a manga based loosely on the famous story “Treasure Island”. This manga, entitled “Shin Takarajima (New Treasure Island)”, was published and became an overnight success, starting the golden age of manga, similar to the craze in America for comic books at the time.

With the success of his manga Treasure Island, Tezuka traveled to Tokyo to seek a publisher. The publisher Shinseikaku agreed to purchase “The Strange Voyage of Dr. Tiger” and publisher Domei Shuppansha purchased “The Mysterious Dr. Koronko”. While he was still studying in medical school , Tezuka published his first masterpiece: a science-fiction trilogy called “Lost World”, “Metropolis”, and “Next World”.

In 1951, Tezuka graduated from the Osaka School of Medicine and published ”Ambassador Atom”, the first appearance of the Astro Boy character. The humanoid robot Atom with human emotions became extremely popular with young boys. In February of 1952, “Tetsuwan Atom” became a serial in the  Weekly Shonen Magazine. The character Atom and his adventures became an instant phenomenon in Japan.

Tezuka entered the animation industry in Japan in 1961, founding Mushi Productions. He innovated the industry with the broadcast of the animated version of “Astro Boy” in 1963, the first Japanese animation to be dubbed into English for an American audience. Other series were later translated to animation, including “Jungle Emperor”, the first Japanese animated series produced in full color.

Osamu Tezuka is a descendent of Hattori Hanzō, a famous ninja and samurai who faithfully served the shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu during the Sengoku period in Japan. Tokugawa Ieyasu was one of the three unifiers of Japan in the late 1500s.

Kaneto Shindo, “Onibaba”: Film History Series


Kaneto Shindo, “Onibaba (Demon Hag)”, 1964, Cinematogapher Kiyomi Kuroda

Born in Saeki in the Hiroshima Prefecture in April of 1912, Kaneto Shindo was a Japanese film director, screenwriter, film producer and writer. One of the pioneers of independent film production in Japan, he co-founded, with director Kōzaburō Yoshimura and actor Taiji Tonoyama, the film company Kindai Eiga Kyōkai which produced most of Shindo’s films, most notably “The Naked Island” and “Ohibaba”.

Born to wealthy landowners, Kanato Shindo was the youngest of four children. His father was a loan guarantor; however, he went bankrupt and all family members, now living in a storehouse, had to seek employment to support the household. Shindo’s mother worked as an agricultural worker until her death in his early childhood. Living with his brother in 1933, Shindo was inspired by Sadao Yamanak’s early film “Bangaku No Isshō” to seek a career in film. He saved enough money working for a year at a bicycle shop to enable his move to Kyoto, the major cultural capital of Japan.  

In Kyoto, Kanato Shindo found employment at the film developing department of Shinkō Kinema, a successful film studio and distributor in the 1930s. With access to old scripts, he studied them and their relationships to the films that were processed. When Shinkō Kinema moved to Tokyo in November of 1936, Shindo was able to get a position in its art department managed by Hiroshi Mizutani, a talented art director and production designer. For his work as an art director, he scouted and sketched locations for film shooting, cameras being less used at the time.

While working at Shochiku Film Studios after World War Two, Shindo met director Kōzaburo Yoshimura and began one of the most successful film partnerships in Japan’s postwar industry. The partnership’s first critical hit was the 1947 “A Ball at the Anjo House”, a drama film that won the prestigious Kinema Junpo Award. Both men left Shochiku Studios to form, along with actor Taiji Tonoyama, the independent film company Kindai Eiga Kyokai, which produce most of Shindo’s films. 

In 1951, Kanato Shindo made his debut as director with the autobiographical drama “Story of a Beloved Wife”, with actress Nobuko Otowa in the role of his deceased common-law wife Takako Kuji. After directing the 1952 “Avalanche”, Shindo made the 1952 “Children of Hiroshima”, a drama of a young teacher who returns to Hiroshima to find surviving friends. Premiered at the 1953 Cannes Film Festival, this first Japanese film to deal with the atomic bomb was an international success. This pivotal film was followed by Shindo’s 1953 “Epitome”, whose central theme was the strength and endurance of women in times of distress.

Between 1953 and 1959, Shindo made political films that were critiques of poverty and women’s suffering in contemporary Japan. These included the 1953 “Life of a Women”, the 1954 “Dobu”, and the 1955 “Wolf”, based on a true story of desperate men and women who rob a money transport. In 1960, Shindo put all his resources into producing his “The Naked Island”, a non-dialogue black and white drama film of a struggling couple with two young sons living on a small island with no water supply. The film was awarded the Grand Prize at the Second Moscow International Film Festival in 1961.

After making “Ningen” in 1962 and “Mother” in 1963, Kanato Shindo shifted his focus as filmmaker to the individuality of a person, specifically a person’s sexual nature. From these ideas came his 1964 film “Onibaba”. Written and directed by Shindo, this historical drama-horror film was inspired by the Shin Buddhist parable of “yome-odoshi-no men”, in which a mother used a mask to scare her daughter from going to the temple. In the parable, the mother was punished by the mask sticking to her face. After begging to remove it, she was able to take it off, but the flesh of her face came with it.

“Onibaba” stars Nobuko Otowa and Jitsuko Yoshimura as fourteenth-century Japanese peasant women living in a reed-filled marshland who survive by killing and robbing defeated samurai. Wanting to film in a field of suski grass, Shindo found his location at inna-Numa in Chiba. Filming for the black and white film started on the thirtieth of June in1964 and continued for three months. Some of the sequences were shot in slow-motion. Its background and title music consists of Taiko drumming combined with jazz.

“Onibaba” won numerous awards and the Grand Prix at the Panama Film Festival. The Award for Best Supporting Actrress went to Jitsuko Yoshimura and the Best Cinematography Award to Kiyomi Kuroda at the 1964 Blue Ribbon Awards by the Association of Tokyo Film Journalists.  

Japanese Tsuba

Japanese Tsuba, Edo Period

The Tsuba is usually a round, or occasionally squarei, guard at the end of the grip of bladed Japanese weapons, like the katana and its various variations, the tachi, wakizachi, tanto, and others. They contribute to the balance of the weapon and to the protection of the hand. The tsuba was mostly meant to be used to prevent the hand from sliding onto the blade during thrusts as opposed to protecting from an opponent’s blade.

During the Muromachi period, 1333-1573, and the Momoyama period, 1573-1603, the tsuba were more for functionality than for decoration, being made of stronger metals and designs. With the peace in Japan during the Edo period, 1603- 1868, the tsuba became more ornamental and made of less practical metals.

Tsuba are usually finely decorated. Whole dynasties of craftsmen arose whose only craft was making the tsuba. These decorated fittings were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to another. Many Japanese families with samurai roots would have their family crests crafted onto a tsuba.

Ando Hiroshige

Ando Hiroshige, “Suido Bridge and Suruga Hill”, Number 63 from the “One Hundred Views of Famous Places in Edo” Series, 1857, Color Woodcut, Chazen Museum of Art

Ando Hiroshige was a Japanes ukiyo-e artist, considered the last great master of that tradition. He is best known for his landscapes, such as the series “The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido” and “The Sixty-Nine Stations of the Kiso Kaido”, and for his depictions of birds and flowers. The subjects of his work was atypical of the genre, whose typical focus was on beautiful women, popular actors, and scenes of the urban pleasure districts of Japan’s Edo period.

In 1856, Hiroshige retired from the world,  becoming a Buddhist monk; this was the year he began his “One Hundred Views of Famous Places in Edo” series.  He died aged 62 during the great Edo cholera epidemic of 1858 and was buried in a Zen Buddhist temple in Asakusa.

Hideki Koh


Hideki Koh, Title Unknown, Date Unknown

Hideki Koh was born in Mie Prefecture, Japan in 1951. In 1998 he began drawing pictures with a special focus on boys and young men. From 2000 Koh has introduced his art through solo and group exhibitions in Tokyo, Osaka, London, Melbourne, and other cities around the world.

Through his oil paintings, drawings, and other works of art Koh expresses the freshness and liveliness of the boys and young men he depicts. He often includes in his works the lives of small animals and insects. The aesthetic world he creates provides constant fascination and charm for his growing number of fans.

In addition to his paintings and drawings, Koh is a well-known doll-maker who creates stunningly realistic dolls and accessories. Beginning with his first solo doll exhibition titled “Hitogata” in 2004, his reputation as a talented doll-maker has steadily increased both in Japan and world-wide.

In addition, the multi-talented Koh does body painting for stage actors and at art gallery events. In 2013 Koh started an art and drawing school in Tokyo. He also organizes sketching workshops around the city where he teaches and mentors young artists.

Battle in the Sky

Artist Unknown, “Severe Battle in the Sky”, The Illustration of the Great European War, Plate 110, Shobido and Company, Tokyo, Japan

The Shobido and Company, a Tokyo printing firm, produced many series of illustrations of World War I battles and maps. Each series was done by a different Japanese artist, and were presented in sets of eight lithographs. These were printed from 1914 through 1918.

Ishirō Honda, “Mothra” ; Film History Series

Promotional Poster for Ishirō Honda’s “Mothra”, Columbia Pictures, 1962

A kaiju is a Japanese film genre that features giant monsters, usually attacking major cities and engaging the military and other monsters in battle. It is a subgenre of tokusatsu entertainment, which deals with science fiction, fantasy, or horror.

Tokusatsu has its origins in early Japanes theater, specifically in kabuki with its action and fight scenes, and in bunraku, which utilized some of the earliest forms of special effects, specifically puppetry. Modern tokusatsu, however, did not begin to take shape until the early 1950s with the conceptual and creative birth of Godzilla, one of the most famous kaiju monsters of all time.

Mothra is a kaiju that first appeared in Toho Company’s 1961 film “Mothra”, developing into a recurring character in the Godzilla franchise. She is typically portrayed as a colossal sentient caterpillar or imago moth, accompanied by two miniature humanoids speaking on her behalf.

Unlike other Toho monsters, Mothra is a largely heroic character, having been variously portrayed as a protector of her own island culture, Japan, and the Earth. She became one of Toho’s most poputlar monsters, second only to Godzilla in its total number of film appearances.

Yoshida Brothers, “Storm”

The Yoshida Brothers, “Storm”

The Yoshida Brothes, 吉田兄弟 , Ryōichirō Yoshida and Kenichi Yoshida are performers of the traditional Japanese music style of Tsugaru-jamisen which originated in northern Japan. Their music has been a fusion of the rapid and percussive Tsugaru-jamisen style along with Western and other regional musical infuences. In additin to performing songs that are only on the shamisen, they also use drums and synthesizers.

Both Yoshida brothers began to study and play the shamisen at the age of five under the tutelage of Koka Adachi, learning the Minyo-shamisen style. Starting in 1989 they began studying the Tsugaru-jamisen style under teacher Takashi Sasaki.