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4–7 September, 2019

Thursday, 5 September | | Innovation Hall

Talk | Presented in Japanese

Japanese Fat Faces from the Edo Period to Today

With their “ample” character, fat faces have existed in Japan since its inception. This talk focuses on fat faces from the Edo period to the present day. The political capital of Edo (the former name of Tokyo), nurtured many pop cultures, and in that environment, hand-painted letters on storefronts and quotidian consumer goods evolved to please the eye. Kanteiryu (a style of calligraphy used for publicity and programs for arts like Kabuki and others), characterized by its extremely dense texture, was conceived in such a climate, as were Yose Moji (a handwritten style for Japanese theater), Sumo Ji (a special style for sumo rankings), and Kago Ji. (cage letters—the characters are thick and square in shape). All were made for specific businesses and cultural realms, and were beloved by the people of Edo. These so-called Edo Moji—both traditional styles and new ones reflecting a contemporary aesthetic— can still be found on the streets of Tokyo. What have the modern fat faces inherited from the old, and what roles will they play going forward? This presentation examines the lineage of fat faces, as well as their future.