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Off the coast of the Japanese city of Nagasaki lies a terrifying symbol of shortsighted development. Out of the dark blue East China Sea rises a dead island covered with dilapidated concrete buildings. Forms of life are absent. No people, no animals. However, in the not so distant past more than five thousand inhabitants lived here. The voices of children echoed from the houses, laughter sounded in the streets. Now only dead concrete is left. This is the island Hashima, once the most densely populated place in the world.
The 1995 earthquake that devastated Kobe and environs destroyed something inside fashion designer Takuya Sawada (1967) as well. “It was an incredible shock. Western-style buildings and even highways came tumbling down. I thought ‘wow, concrete is really brittle’,” says Takuya Sawada. “Everything I believed in was demolished. It shattered something inside me too.” Just as he describes the pain he felt at the time, RINGO Shina’s ‘Odaijini’ (‘Get well soon’) plays in the background. We both laugh at the coincidence.
I discovered Sayaka Adachi (1977), or Chitchi, while I was taking Street Fashion photos in Osaka’s very trendy Horie district. Walking out of a park my eye got a glimpse of a huge painting hanging in a second floor gallery. The work pulled me into the building and up a gaudy staircase until I arrived in a large space with paintings showing faces of young Japanese that were very colorful and very ‘now’.
The character Gloomy the Bear at first sight looks like a possible friend of Hello Kitty. Cute face, pink skin, simply drawn in basic colors. And then, suddenly, you notice the blood on its claws. Japanese illustrator Mori Chack’s creation is the most horrible nightmare you can ever fall in love with.