Sunday, October 16, 2016

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Godzilla gets an artisan makeover in traditional Kutani-yaki style

The Asahi Shimbun  by JUNYA FUKUDA/ Staff Writer  October 4, 2016

Godzilla figurines adorned with the high-quality painting techniques of Kutani-yaki pottery are displayed in Nomi, Ishikawa Prefecture. (Junya Fukuda)

NOMI, Ishikawa Prefecture--Godzilla figurines may have been around almost as long as the movie series that inspired them, but a group of traditional Kutani-yaki artisans here have presented the mini-giant monsters in a new light.

The Kutaniyaki Saishokai group of local artisans decided to decorate 20 figurines of the big screen beast for a special exhibition and sale at Tokyo's Isetan department store's Shinjuku branch to celebrate the latest movie in the blockbuster series, “Shin Godzilla,” aka “Godzilla Resurgence.”

Kutaniyaki Saishokai is a professional society comprising 11 local pottery companies, and it previously won admirers with its “Ultraman” superhero pottery series. Its head, Katsuhisa Iwata, 51, has high hopes for the project.

“We hope we can promote Kutani-yaki by taking advantage of the popularity of Godzilla,” he said.
The Ultraman-themed figurines have been displayed at two exhibition and sale events since last year at Isetan Shinjuku, catching the attention of Toho Co., according to Kutaniyaki Saishokai.

Toho, the film studio and distributor behind the Godzilla movie series, asked the association to produce Kutani-yaki Godzilla figurines in late June.

The 20 local artisans were asked to each glaze a unique design on a 12-centimeter high figurine.

In addition to Buzan Fukushima, a leading artisan in the “aka-e saibyo” painting technique, potters of “aochibu,” “kinrande,” “Yoshidaya-fu” and other styles lent the essence of their traditional techniques to the colorful Godzilla figurines.

The figurines are priced between 20,000 yen ($198) and 250,000 yen each.

The latest movie “Shin Godzilla,” the first Japan-made Godzilla film in 12 years, was released nationwide in late July and became a box office sensation.

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