In mid-Edo period Japan there lived an artist by the name of Masayoshi Kitao. He adopted the name Keisai Kuwagata once he became an artist but today both have sunken into obscurity.
However, at the time, Keisai, who worked during the same period as iconic artist Katsushika Hokusai, was popular enough that people often identified with one style or the other: Keisai or Hokusai.
If he was around today, perhaps Keisai’s name would have lived on as his loose, abbreviated style seems perfectly in touch with contemporary sensibilities. His animals are just… just so cute!
In 1795 he created Chujuryakugashiki (鳥獣略画式), an illustrated zoological booklet of dogs, birds, monkeys, elephants and all sorts of animals. We could picture any number of these adorably drawn creatures being turned into municipal mascots.
Could this perhaps be the origin of kawaii culture?? We’d like to believe so.