|11/9/14 Pitt Artist's Pen, colored pencils, Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook|
In August 2001, Greg and I visited Japan with part of my extended family on a tour of Yamaguchi prefecture on the western end of Honshu. The tour included attendance at a major expo highlighting the prefecture’s culture, commerce and industry. Called Kirara (a play on the word for sparkling or glittering), the expo culminated with a spectacular electronic and fireworks display (I’m amazed that I was able to find a link to the show 13 years later!).
Although the Kirara expo doesn’t really stand out in my memory, the trip itself is special to us for a couple of reasons: For one, it was not only our first (of several so far) trip to Japan; it was also our first trip with a passport. (It may now seem like we travel frequently, but that has only been true the past few years.) Secondly, we returned home from that trip only days before 9/11, so it was the last time we flew without going through the TSA security procedures that we all now know and love so well. After that, the world was forever changed, so I still associate a sense of innocence with that first trip to Japan.
|Here we are at the expo with a 3-D version of the logo characters.|
The logo for the Kirara expo included a musical band of five animal mascots who appeared in many forms all over the expo grounds. The Japanese are famous for their love of all things cute – Japan is the birthplace of Hello Kitty, after all. Since grown Japanese men have no problem wearing clothing or carrying backpacks with cute icons on them, the official expo T-shirt was emblazoned with this logo – and this logo only. There was no conservative (non-cute) alternative.
Of course my family ended our expo visit in the gift shop, where I spotted the T-shirts. I decided it would be a terrific idea if everyone in my family got the shirts and wore them on the flight home, expressing some kind of family team spirit. Everyone managed to dredge up enough spirit to buy the shirts, but I didn’t see many wearing them (I’m guessing my brother wouldn’t have been caught dead in a “cute” shirt even in the privacy of his own home).
|Greg and me in our Kirara shirts at Kansai airport. |
I think my nephew Jason was the only other family
member who wore his on the flight, but I couldn't
find a photo of him wearing it.
I, on the other hand, not only wore my Kirara T-shirt on the flight home; I continued to wear it to Jazzercise, to wash the car, to clean the bathroom or to do any other activity that required my least formal attire. I tell you all of this seemingly irrelevant information because today, 13 years later, I’ve decided to retire that shirt. (A hole finally appeared in the armpit after its last washing.) Despite what you may be thinking, I’m not one of those people who keeps on wearing clothes until they are rags, but I guess I was sentimental about that shirt. (And although the logo is a bit faded, that T-shirt has held up better than most!)
Normally if I’m feeling sentimental about an object that needs to be tossed, I get Greg to take a photo of me with the object, and then I can let it go. This time I decided to memorialize the logo by sketching it. I tried to reproduce the details and colors as faithfully as possible. Despite the many years that I wore the shirt, I had never studied the logo as carefully as I did today. It incorporates an amazing number of colors – I had to use 12 colored pencils!
OK, now I can toss it. (But it’s not the last time I’ll see the logo; it also appears on a dishtowel that I still use!)