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Japan’s new passports to feature ukiyo-e designs

18 Comments
By Casey Baseel, RocketNews24

When Japanese travelers go abroad, they’ll be taking some of the country’s most famous and beautiful examples of woodblock print artwork with them.

A while back I had to renew my passport, and when my new one came in the mail my wife was amazed at how incredibly American it is. Splashed across every visa page is an iconic American scene, such as the Statue of Liberty standing tall, a pair of grazing buffalo, or a group of cowboys leading their herd on a cattle drive.

But Japan’s passports have their own makeover in the works that will provide just as much national color and character. As just announced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the not-too-distant future Japanese passports will be graced by the artwork of Katsushika Hokusai, Japan’s most celebrated painter and woodblock artist.

As the conclusion of a project to find a new design that would be both representative of Japanese culture and difficult to counterfeit, the ministry-appointed committee has decided to use a selection of works from Hokusai’s famous "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji" ukiyo-e series.

However, Japanese passports aren’t 36 pages long, which means there’s not room to include every single piece from Hokusai’s series. In the end, the committee decided on 24 prints to be used, which includes such internationally recognized masterpieces as The Great Wave off Kanagawa and Koshu Kajikazawa

The new passports are scheduled to be introduced in 2019. Oddly enough, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says this timing was partially chosen so that they’ll be ready in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, during which one would expect a smaller-than-normal number of Japanese citizens to be travelling abroad. Still, if that self-imposed deadline means we get to see these traveling works of art sooner, so much the better.

Source: Japaaan

Read more stories form RocketNews24. -- Stirring animated version of Hokusai paintings is like watching anime from the Edo period 【Video】 -- The Artist’s Daughter: the girl behind Hokusai’s prints -- Seiko’s blingtastic luxury watch based on Hokusai’s Great Wave costs a pretty yenny

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18 Comments
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"during [Tokyo Olympics] one would expect a smaller-than-normal number of Japanese citizens to be travelling abroad."

What is the basis for this assumption? I live within a day's drive of TWO different Olympics and I didn't participate in the events in any way. If anything, MORE Japanese may be going abroad to avoid the madness.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

Isn't it a bit risky to put a drawing of a killer wave on an international travel document? I know most people travel by airplane these days but there are still alot of nervous cruise ship passengers to think about.

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

What is the basis for this assumption?

The collective belief that everyone is going to stay home and support the home team!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Cool design

5 ( +6 / -1 )

What happened to Hello Kitty and all things cute and cool? Cool Japan?

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Lovely. What a nice idea

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Ukiyo-e is a good choice for the pages, and with subtle printing (maybe 30% or so) it would make a beautiful passport. Last time I got my Canadian passport renewed my wife kept looking through it over and over and marvelled at the pics and asked me the background of it, saying it was beautilful. Until now, Korean and Japanese passports have been pretty plain by way of design, and I think Japan has made a good choice here with what to use.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

My staff member showed me his Canadian passport when he got it renewed, they are definitely quite nice. I was a little envious. My passport is boring.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I am not to sure that I would agree with the comity that voted for these scenes, I would liked to see 24 pictures the represent Japan as a nation IE: the emperor and his wife, mount Fuji, the bullet train, hello kitty, Tokyo tower, a fighting Ninja and samurai, a Tori, Sakamoto Ryoma, Shirakawa go in Gifu, the onsen monkeys in Nagano, Geisha/meiko there are stacks more things that represent Japan better.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

The US guys pasports at the office are full of patriotic pictures and quotes. OK for the US maybe, but not good for Japan. Ukiyo is fine. To bad my favorite one does not seem to be included.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

My team of Canadian staff showed me their passports recently during my staff meeting at the end of the business quarter. Very nice.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

What is the basis for this assumption? I live within a day's drive of TWO different Olympics and I didn't participate in the events in any way. If anything, MORE Japanese may be going abroad to avoid the madness.

That is precisely what I've been thinking. Unless I have a lucrative job related to the 2020 Olympics, I'm going to do my best to be somewhere else when it is staged.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

My wife is upset because her passport has to be renewed next year. Why the wait?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

what's so exciting? finally, it will be spoiled by immigration dept., Visa, re-entry, arrival and departure stamps.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That's a great idea! That would fit nicely in a passport

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@kaitenzusi: "during [Tokyo Olympics] one would expect a smaller-than-normal number of Japanese citizens to be travelling abroad." ..What is the basis for this assumption? I live within a day's drive of TWO different Olympics and I didn't participate in the events in any way. If anything, MORE Japanese may be going abroad to avoid the madness.

The basis is that the airplane capacity is a limiting factor. With a set number of air seats and an increased number of foreign visitors during the Olympics, it will be more difficult for local people to book air tickets (the foreigners who come will have to go back making seat availability for locals smaller than at any other given time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Shunga Passports will be great. Hokusai dabbled in some spectacular stuff.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

1990 calendar book by Brooklyn Museum has 100 photocopy pages of HIROSHIGE.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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