Sisyu: The Japanese Calligraphy Artist Who Created the Kanji for Pixar’s Inside Out


The emotions from ‘Inside Out’ and their corresponding kanji character

As Pixar plans the release of their latest film ‘Inside Out,’ slated to hit the big screen in the U.S. on June 17th, so too turns the Japanese marketing engine, albeit in a different direction. Besides opening in Japan 2 weeks later, and under a slightly different name (‘Inside Head’), Disney’s Japan arm has hired calligraphy artist Sisyu to create a unique kanji characters that corresponds to each of Riley’s emotions.

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Joy (yorokobi, 喜) and Sadness (kanashimi, 悲)

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Disgust (mukamuka, 嫌)

For each of the 11-year old protagonist’s emotions – Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness – Sisyu created kanji characters that capture that very emotion. Fear (Bibiri, in Japanese) was given thin, shaky lines that look as though they’re about to collapse at any moment. Disgust (Mukamuka, in Japanese) was drawn with quick, annoyed lines as if the task was completely beneath her. It’s amazing how accurately each emotion is captured within the strokes.

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Anger (ikari, 怒) and Fear (bibiri, 怖)

While keeping her real name and age private, the slightly mysterious Sisyu has been collaborating with artists and companies to expand the realm of calligraphy. According to her bio she’s a calligraphy artists “officially recognized by the Japanese government” as has helped create several campaigns for various ministries. Below is a selection of some of her recent work.

If you’d like to see her work in person Sisyu actually has an upcoming solo exhibition at the Sogo Department Store in Yokohama. It will be in the store’s gallery on the 6th floor and will run from May 26 – June 1, 2015.

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the kanji hatsu (初) meaning first will be on display at Sisyu’s upcoming exhibition.

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One of Sisyu’s most recent commissions were these kanji-inspired lamps for the Japanese restaurant Engawa in London.

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In 2012 Sisyu collaborated with Japanese digital art collective TeamLab to create kanji-based works


Last year Sisyu created a series of three-dimensional calligraphy sculptures. They were on display in France for the Salon 2014 de la SNBA au Carrousel Du Louvre

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Sisyu also does a lot of editorial work. This piece, featuring three repeated characters for light (光) was for the magazine Aera (April 21, 2014 issue)

1 Comment

  1. I love there’s a smile in Joy’s character. 😀

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