Naomi Watanabe is huge in Japan. With 7.5 million Instagram followers, the comedian is a distant 1st; at least 2.5 million ahead of any of her Japanese Instagram peers. Appearing on TV, radio and in ads left and right, she’s often referred to as Japan’s top influencer. But behind every well-crafted image, as we’ve found, is a strong design team. And for Watanabe, she’s increasingly teaming up with art director Yuni Yoshida.
Yoshida’s specialty is a unique combination of old-school props, costumes and special-effect make-up. She relies sparingly on digital manipulation and prefers to orchestrate her surreal images using visual puns. In the case of Naomi Watanabe, the visuals are often food-related, owing, perhaps, to the comedian’s sense of humor about her weight – in a country of overwhelmingly super-skinny women, Watanabe stands out at 220 pounds.
A good example of how Yoshida conjures up some of her innovative visuals is a scene she produced that appeared in Japanese fashion magazine ViVi. In it, Watanabe appears in a pink pajama gown with rollers in her hair. Except, the rolls are sushi rolls. Rather than digitally splicing in the sushi, Yoshida opted to hire an actual chef to come in and make real sushi rolls that were then expertly placed and rolled using Watanabe’s hair instead of seaweed.
Check out some more examples below of the collaboration between Watanabe’s humor and Yoshida’s creativity!