Abstract Illustrated Maps and Japanese Culture

The Japanese enjoy rather different forms of art to many western cultures, and that is reflected in everything from their modern entertainment choices to the way they put together their Illustrated maps.
Artist Masaku Kubo has created some beautiful illustrated maps of Japan. One of his recent pieces is a map of Kamakura, Japan. This map covers Sagami Bay and the area surrounding Kamakura Station. To the west, is Enoshima, and to the north, Yokohama, but htese are not shown on the map.
The map is not a faithful scale representation of the area, although it does follow roughly the right shape. Instead, it picks out some of the most interesting attractions of the area, such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Hachimutsu-en Honey Shop, and the Zuisen-Jiu temple, and highlights those.
As a tourist guide, this map is beautiful – it contains lots of information about the area, informing tourists that they “Must ride this adorable Enoden train”, and that it’s a long walk to the temple. These points are illustrated with large, clear pictograms that any traveller would understand, regardless of the language they speak.
There are few geographical elements highlighted on this map. The bay is shown, as are a few hills and green areas, but most of the map features built- up areas and attractions, describing roughly where they are in relation to the nearest train station. The bright colours and the simple, rugged “stamp effect” make this an interesting piece of modern Japanese art.
Masako Kubo is a prolific illustrator. He has produced everything from stamps to maps and campaign posters for environmental campaigns. He has also produced book covers for several authors, including some English Language authors. This means that everyone can own at least some of his works.

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