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Mundane Urban Moments Get Translated into Japanese Woodblock Illustrations

Zenjidou Yamada's illustrations capture everyday situations in classic Japanese woodblock print style.
Images courtesy the artist

The struggle is real for kimono-clad, minimalist characters in pseudonymous Japanese artist Zenjidou Yamada's anachronistic woodblock print-style illustrations. Yamada taught himself ukiyo-e with no professional schooling and has now prolifically catalogued the ephemeral sensations of global culture. Edo-era men and women act out each anachronistic concept, from train fatigue and awkward invasions of personal space to fashion faux pas and the pleasure of instant noodles. Yamada tells Creators he started the project after attempting to paint his favorite musician in the ukiyo-e aesthetic. He was fascinated by how the guitar and drums came out, and decided to blend more modern elements into his ukiyo-e paintings.


Each drawing is captioned exclusively in Japanese calligraphy, so we asked Yamada to translate a few of the pieces.

The feeling when you drink a stranger's coffee at the side-by-side seats.

That mysterious force that makes you sleepy just before arrival.

The unpleasantness of passing by the outdoor heating unit.

When you see someone in pants so skinny, it look's like they're not wearing anything.

Johnny Strategy of Spoon & Tamago also translated several of Yamada's captions.

Eating instant noodles outside makes it taste oddly better.

When the guy who was least interested in the party is clearly trying the hardest.

That feeling when you want the free sample but pretend you totally don't want it.

When "now with 10% more" doesn't make you feel any happier.

That disappointment when you spot a fancy cafe but it turns out to be a beauty salon.

Some of Yamada's illustrations don't require any translation.

See more of Zenjidou Yamada's work on his website.


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