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uncle editor
Aug 24, 2023

Ryohei Yanagihara principle ~RyoheIZM~08

Ryohei Yanagihara principle ~RyoheIZM~08

uncle editor

Aug 24, 2023

How to achieve familiarity

How to achieve familiarity

Drawing ships as if they were people

Drawing ships as if they were people

The ships that Ryohei Yanagihara draws tend to be friendly and cute, rather than majestic and imposing. Where does this friendliness come from? And how does he express it?


Masakatsu Shizawa, former director of the Yokohama Port Museum, summed it up in one word:

"It's been transformed, right? In other words, it's been compressed."


Shizawa continues, "Yanagiwara felt an extraordinary affinity with ships, and so he used a variety of methods to communicate that feeling to a wide audience."


"Rather than drawing exactly as it exists, I draw exactly as I feel it. My teacher always used to say, 'Ships are just lumps of metal, but I think of them as living people.' I've loved ships since I was a child, so I want as many people as possible to know how familiar ships are. That's why I draw them that way. In terms of how I draw, in order to convey a sense of familiarity, in some illustrations you have given ships mouths and arms and legs, for example, right?"

The ships that Ryohei Yanagihara draws tend to be friendly and cute, rather than majestic and imposing. Where does this friendliness come from? And how does he express it?

Masakatsu Shizawa, former director of the Yokohama Port Museum, summed it up in one word:

"It's been transformed, right? In other words, it's been compressed."

Shizawa continues, "Yanagiwara felt an extraordinary affinity with ships, and so he used a variety of methods to communicate that feeling to a wide audience."


"Rather than drawing exactly as it exists, I draw exactly as I feel it. My teacher always used to say, 'Ships are just lumps of metal, but I think of them as living people.' I've loved ships since I was a child, so I want as many people as possible to know how familiar ships are. That's why I draw them that way. In terms of how I draw, in order to convey a sense of familiarity, in some illustrations you have given ships mouths and arms and legs, for example, right?"

"Funakichi" Ryohei makes his debut!

Yanagihara continued to borrow blueprints and make models over and over. In 1947, permission was granted to build cargo ships for foreign routes, so he also made a model of a cargo ship. The large model, made at 200:1 scale, was eventually presented to the company president, and was even published in the Japan Maritime News with a photograph. Yanagihara himself wrote in "Yanagihara Ryohei's My Life" that this was "the debut of Shipmaster Ryohei."


Yanagihara's ability to grasp objects in 3D, or by extension, his spatial awareness, may have been honed through this model making. Masakatsu Shizawa, former director of the Yokohama Port Museum and a familiar face with Yanagihara's work, told us the following story.


"When an artist who is not familiar with ships draws a ship, the shape can sometimes end up being off in the bow or stern. But with the professor, that never happened, no matter how much he deformed the ship. That's because the professor liked making models. Models are three-dimensional, so they can be viewed from all angles."


And perhaps thanks to the tutelage of design engineers, the structural knowledge he gained through understanding the position and shape of passenger cabins, cargo holds, bridge and masts, etc., likely honed Yanagiwara's antennae for detecting functional beauty.

However, lending the blueprints of a ship to an outsider, especially to a boy, reminds us of the generous spirit of those days. Nowadays, you would have to sign a non-disclosure agreement first. No, I wouldn't lend it to anyone even before that.


I do not mean to defend Osaka Shosen at the time, but at the very least, young Yanagihara must have been an exception to the rule for the company. He had a love for ships that made one think he would be okay (i.e., he would not misuse the blueprints), a solid knowledge of ships, and good manners that could put adults to shame.

If I send a letter, will I get a face pass?

Compression is the key word

There is an interesting story about how he was given a pass by the Osaka Shosen Company. Immediately after the war, Yanagihara sent letters of inquiry to major shipping companies to find out what had happened to the ships that had been built during the war and which had survived after the war.

According to Mr. Onuki, a former employee of Mitsui OSK Lines, "This was when I was in the fourth year of middle school under the old system, so it was 22. Before World War II, there were about 1947 shipping companies of a certain size." In Yanagihara's writing, after listing nine companies, he says, "I may have sent it to others, but I forget," so it's possible that he sent it to all of the more than 10 companies.


Moreover, Yanagiwara attached a list of all the ships he knew to all of these letters. Needless to say, there were no copy machines at the time. He wrote each one by hand. Or rather, since he was very familiar with the ships built by each company, it is possible that he did not use a common list, but rather wrote different lists for each company.


What is surprising is that he enclosed a stamped return envelope with every letter. Is there any junior high school student who is so considerate? Looking back at my junior high school days, this is an unbelievable level of consideration. When I read this account, I took my hat off to this manner, and even to the initiative of writing a letter.


No shipping company could keep quiet if they were treated with such consideration. As expected, replies arrived from most of the companies. Among them, Osaka Shosen was the one that showed the utmost gratitude for Yanagiwara's spirit. The sender of the return was listed as "Osaka Shosen Engineering Department" rather than "Osaka Shosen."

There were certainly some manga-like illustrations of ships that were personified. However, personification was an extreme example, and even non-personified, ordinary (?) drawings of ships share a common warmth and familiarity. I asked Shizawa about his technique.


"You shorten the overall length of the ship. In other words, it's compression. Uncle Triss is also compressed, isn't he? And it also compresses space."


Uncle Triss is 2.5 heads tall. It makes sense that this "compression" is what has made it so familiar to so many people. It is certainly clear that Yanagihara has drawn the overall length of the ship short, but Shizawa says that this is also a major reason why the ship feels familiar. But the real intention is not just that, but an extension of that.

The brevity necessary to communicate

Junior high school student captivates a professional boat driver

"My teacher was originally an advertising designer. In other words, he works in advertising. Advertising professionals have to convey the message they want to convey to consumers concisely. And once they've done that, they have to get the consumer to buy their product. To achieve this, they need to express the subject as concisely as possible. And so the illustrations are like that too."


While it is certainly true that they are simple, the impression of the ships is not diminished in the slightest. In fact, the luxury cruise liner gives off an impression of elegance, while the cargo ship gives off an impression of honesty and power.


When reading the writings of great writers, we are often bombarded with more information than what is written. This is what is commonly called "reading between the lines," and there is surely something about Yanagihara's paintings that makes us feel the gap between the lines.


So, from the picture of a passenger ship departing, we can hear the cheers, and from the picture of a large cargo ship, we can smell the rusty smell of cranes and chains. Of course, it is an illusion, but it is surely the equivalent of what you find between the lines in a great novel, and this is what gives Yanagihara's works their unique "sense of condensation."

What is spatial compression?

So what does another thing Shizawa said, "Compressing not only length but also space" mean? A hint can be found in an article contributed by illustrator Yoshiaki Nishimura in the "Special Exhibition: Ship Painter Ryohei Yanagihara" published by the Yokohama Maritime Museum (now Yokohama Port Museum).


Nishimura was interested in Yanagihara's photos of ships taken with a telephoto lens. Yanagihara said that the deformation created an interesting effect. Photos taken with a telephoto lens lose the sense of perspective, and the background, which is far away from the subject, appears much closer.


I also checked with a close photographer, and he said, "When you shoot something with a telephoto lens, the background behind the subject appears closer than it does with the naked eye, meaning it appears larger." This is what Shizawa means by "compressing space," meaning the sense of perspective is compressed.

Inquiries from the general public are usually received by the customer service desk or the general affairs department, and the department that received the letter responds. However, the fact that the engineering department sent the reply indicates that the letter was passed on to the engineering department from another department. If it was a normal inquiry, the general affairs department should have been able to write a basic reply.


This story seems to have become legendary, and Junko Nakajima, a former employee of Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, who joined the company (then known as Osaka O.S.K. Lines Shipping) in the 1970s, had also heard this episode from about 30 years ago when she joined the company.

"The letter the teacher wrote was unusual, so I think the people at the company at the time must have realized that there was something different about this kid. I think the department that first received the letter was probably something like general affairs. But the fact that it was circulated to the engineering department, in other words, the department that designs ships, means that anyone could see that he loved the structure of ships as well."


The members of the Engineering Department were delighted to receive the letter, overflowing with the boy's love of ships. In reply, they not only answered the boy's inquiry, but also enclosed a postcard and added at the end of the letter, "Please come visit us at the company if you like." In other words, it was they themselves who wanted to meet the junior high school student named Yanagihara Ryohei. In his book, Yanagihara writes that Kanou, a shipbuilding engineer he was introduced to during his visit to the company, was his foster parent, which led to him becoming a "ship fanatic." It was Kanou who showed him the blueprints and explained the structure of a ship.


I can picture Mr. Kanao explaining why the doors are installed in the way they are, and the boy nodding earnestly as he listens to the explanation. "Ryohei Yanagihara's My Life" is interspersed with illustrations by Yanagihara in his unique style, and Mr. Kanao also appears in them.


A letter of inquiry opened the door to a destiny that even the writer could not have imagined. It was the same when he asked his boss to take him to Kotobukiya (now Suntory Holdings). Long before that, while he was still in junior high school, Yanagihara had carved out his own destiny. (Continued in the next issue)

Draw as you feel

Compression and simplicity are the keys to enjoying Yanagihara's work. However, it is not as simple as saying that you can create such a familiar painting just by shortening the overall length of the ship, simplifying the details, and eliminating the sense of perspective. This is because Yanagihara has a unique sense for balancing how much to shorten and what to omit.


As Shizawa said at the beginning, "I don't draw as it is, I draw as I feel," Yanagihara's unique sensitivity is what makes him draw like that. Furthermore, he finishes it as a work with the sense of balance that only an advertising designer can have.


Even among the advertising posters we see every day, there are some that catch our eye and make us look at them for a long time (other than the photos of sexy women). There must be a mechanism carefully thought out by a top advertising designer behind them, and we must be dancing to their every move. Advertising is truly fearsome. (Continued in the next issue)

uncle editor

People in Royalty Bank. After working for a publishing company, he became independent and wrote articles for magazines and the web. Fascinated by the splendor of Ryohei Yanagihara's works, he began writing this column.

*Editor's note
The expression ``Fune-Kichi'' expresses the nuance of ``an unusual ship enthusiast.'' This expression is often used by Ryohei Yanagihara in his books, mainly towards himself, but there is no sense of any discrimination or contempt in it. Therefore, in this column, I purposely use the word ``funekichi'' without replacing it with other words.   

Ryohei Yanagihara

Born in Tokyo in 1931. In 1954, he joined Kotobukiya (now Suntory Holdings). He produced many popular advertisements one after another and won many awards, including the Dentsu Award and the Mainichi Industrial Design Award, before retiring and going independent. He loved ships and ports and moved to Yokohama. In addition to being a painter, he is a graphic designer, book designer, picture book author, animator, and writer. Passed away on August 2015, 8 at the age of 17.

uncle editor

People in Royalty Bank. After working for a publishing company, he became independent and wrote articles for magazines and the web. Fascinated by the splendor of Ryohei Yanagihara's works, he began writing this column.

*Editor's note
The expression ``Fune-Kichi'' expresses the nuance of ``an unusual ship enthusiast.'' This expression is often used by Ryohei Yanagihara in his books, mainly towards himself, but there is no sense of any discrimination or contempt in it. Therefore, in this column, I purposely use the word ``funekichi'' without replacing it with other words.   

References
・"Picture Diary of a Boat Trip" (Tokuma Bunko)

People who cooperated

● Masakatsu Shizawa In 1978, he became a curator at the Yokohama Marine Science Museum and met Ryohei Yanagihara, who was serving as a director of the museum. They remained friends until Yanagihara's death. He then built his career at the Yokohama Maritime Museum (now Yokohama Port Museum), and became the museum's director in 2015. He retired in 2019 and is currently researching maritime history.    


References

"Ship Painter Ryohei Yanagihara" published by Yokohama Maritime Museum (now Yokohama Port Museum) 

Those who cooperated

● Masakatsu Shizawa In 1978, he became a curator at the Yokohama Marine Science Museum and met Ryohei Yanagihara, who was serving as a director of the museum. They remained friends until Yanagihara's death. He then built his career at the Yokohama Maritime Museum (now Yokohama Port Museum), and became the museum's director in 2015. He retired in 2019 and is currently researching maritime history.                   

●Nakajima Atsuko Joined Osaka O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (now Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd.) in 1976. After working in the secretarial department, she was transferred to the public relations department, and has since been in charge of website management and the production of in-house newsletters and newsletters. In 2002, she established the "Captain Yanagihara Honorary Museum" on the website. She became the liaison office for ordering Yanagihara's works, and continued to correspond with him for about 13 years.

●Onuki Hidenori Joined Osaka O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. (now Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd.) in 1982. After working in the liner and container ship division and managing and selling shipping routes, he transferred to the Public Relations Office in 2000, where he met Yanagihara during a meeting to discuss a commission for a work. Since then, he has deepened his friendship with Yanagihara, inviting him to events such as the delivery ceremony of a new ship and aboard a cargo ship for an interview.



References

・“Ryohei Yanagihara’s My Life” (Kisaragi Publishing)            

Ryohei Yanagihara principle ~RyoheIZM~

In my previous column, I wrote that the individuality shown in Ryohei Yanagihara's paintings is due to the design sense he has cultivated as a designer. However, in the art world, there seems to be a big gap between painters and designers.

For example, in the case of Cassandre, a famous French revolutionary designer who appeared in the previous issue, he only considered design work as a means to make a living until he could make a living as a painter.

Naturally, Ryohei Yanagihara's paintings have a unique originality that is different from others. I have written several times before about what makes them different, but I wanted to know why they are different. The first thing that comes to mind is that Yanagihara is not only a painter, but also an illustrator, manga artist, designer, and book designer. According to Mr. Shizawa, former director of the Yokohama Port Museum,
I saw the original pen drawing, simply titled "Sailing Passenger Ship." It was a monochrome, simple line drawing, but it was detailed with the mast, protruding bow, sails, and even the many ropes, including the tugs of war.
The other day, I had the chance to see another original painting by Yanagihara. It is a rare cut-out piece with the title "The Michelangelo in the Port of Naples" written inside the painting. The sight of the famous ship, the Michelangelo, floating in the calm port under the clear skies of Naples is truly elegant, and one can feel the leisurely flow of time.
Ryohei Yanagihara's ships are often friendly and cute, rather than majestic. Where does this friendliness come from? And how does he express it? Masakatsu Shizawa, former director of the Yokohama Port Museum, sums it up in one word: "They're deformed, aren't they? In other words, they're compressed."
I wanted to know when and how Yanagiwara Ryohei's love of ships was developed. However, I couldn't find anyone who knew about his childhood. Instead, I will introduce some passages from "Yanagiwara Ryohei's My Life" that gave me some clues. After the war (1945), Japan was under the control of the occupying forces and was not allowed to build ships, but in 1946 permission was granted to build small boats. The following year, in 1947, Yanagiwara Ryohei (15 years old), a junior high school student living in the Kansai region,
Ryohei Yanagihara loved Yokohama. He lived on the hillside of Yamate and created many works while looking at the harbor from his study/workroom (though a few years later, the harbor was no longer visible due to other buildings). There was a company president with an office in Yokohama who loved his work. He had an idea that the power of Ryohei Yanagihara's paintings could be the catalyst to boost the popularity of his company's existing products.
Now, finally, let's talk about ships. Yanagiwara's love (= knowledge) of ships is so vast and deep that I'm not sure where to begin. Anyone who reads "Senpai Enikki" (Tokuma Bunko) will understand the depth of his love for ships. Not only are specifications such as displacement (total tonnage), speed, number of passengers, ship registry, construction company, and owner company (even transitions), but there are also detailed descriptions of cabin rates from first to third class, as well as diagrams showing the location of each cabin. Of course, some may say that this can be found by researching or taking notes. However, at that time, it was impossible to casually search and find out. You had to find out how to research and who to contact on your own.
Line drawings are the starting point of Ryohei Yanagiwara's work. For him, sketching is part of daily life, and sketching starts with line drawings. He has left behind many tasteful works using line drawings. The illustrations in "Three Policemen" (Gakken) are one of the works where such illustrations can be seen. The three main characters, the policemen, are all, as usual, two-and-a-half-headed, and have almost the same faces except for the direction of their whiskers, but
Last time, I wrote about the creation of the immortal character "Uncle Tris," who has been active for over half a century since its creation in 1958. Even Ryohei Yanagihara himself probably never imagined that he would be so popular for so long. This is proof that the work contains a universality that even the author himself is not aware of. In other words, Ryohei Yanagihara's work contains "universality called charm."
The path, the ship and the port that you carve for yourself are themes that Ryohei Yanagihara has faced throughout his life, and anyone who looks at his paintings is captivated by Yanagihara's unique style, which is full of originality. I will write about his charm many times in the future, changing hands and objects, but before that, I would like to highlight another characteristic of his work: the interestingness of his portraits. .
It's frustrating not being able to say what's good about it The charm of ship paintings and the fun of portraits A painting of a ship by Ryohei Yanagihara. Sometimes it's a luxury cruise ship moored at a pier, and sometimes it's a powerful container ship being unloaded with a crane. Some of the works depict passengers waving from the deck of a passenger ship, or a captain gazing at the ship's course from the bridge of a cargo ship. Although the painting of the ship itself is far from realistic, it exudes a unique sense of detail and condensation, while the people are deformed to look like manga. .

Ryohei Yanagihara principle ~RyoheIZM~

In my previous column, I wrote that the individuality shown in Ryohei Yanagihara's paintings is due to the design sense he has cultivated as a designer. However, in the art world, there seems to be a big gap between painters and designers.

For example, in the case of Cassandre, a famous French revolutionary designer who appeared in the previous issue, he only considered design work as a means to make a living until he could make a living as a painter.

Naturally, Ryohei Yanagihara's paintings have a unique originality that is different from others. I have written several times before about what makes them different, but I wanted to know why they are different. The first thing that comes to mind is that Yanagihara is not only a painter, but also an illustrator, manga artist, designer, and book designer. According to Mr. Shizawa, former director of the Yokohama Port Museum,
I saw the original pen drawing, simply titled "Sailing Passenger Ship." It was a monochrome, simple line drawing, but it was detailed with the mast, protruding bow, sails, and even the many ropes, including the tugs of war.
The other day, I had the chance to see another original painting by Yanagihara. It is a rare cut-out piece with the title "The Michelangelo in the Port of Naples" written inside the painting. The sight of the famous ship, the Michelangelo, floating in the calm port under the clear skies of Naples is truly elegant, and one can feel the leisurely flow of time.
Ryohei Yanagihara's ships are often friendly and cute, rather than majestic. Where does this friendliness come from? And how does he express it? Masakatsu Shizawa, former director of the Yokohama Port Museum, sums it up in one word: "They're deformed, aren't they? In other words, they're compressed."
I wanted to know when and how Yanagiwara Ryohei's love of ships was developed. However, I couldn't find anyone who knew about his childhood. Instead, I will introduce some passages from "Yanagiwara Ryohei's My Life" that gave me some clues. After the war (1945), Japan was under the control of the occupying forces and was not allowed to build ships, but in 1946 permission was granted to build small boats. The following year, in 1947, Yanagiwara Ryohei (15 years old), a junior high school student living in the Kansai region,
Ryohei Yanagihara loved Yokohama. He lived on the hillside of Yamate and created many works while looking at the harbor from his study/workroom (though a few years later, the harbor was no longer visible due to other buildings). There was a company president with an office in Yokohama who loved his work. He had an idea that the power of Ryohei Yanagihara's paintings could be the catalyst to boost the popularity of his company's existing products.
Now, finally, let's talk about ships. Yanagiwara's love (= knowledge) of ships is so vast and deep that I'm not sure where to begin. Anyone who reads "Senpai Enikki" (Tokuma Bunko) will understand the depth of his love for ships. Not only are specifications such as displacement (total tonnage), speed, number of passengers, ship registry, construction company, and owner company (even transitions), but there are also detailed descriptions of cabin rates from first to third class, as well as diagrams showing the location of each cabin. Of course, some may say that this can be found by researching or taking notes. However, at that time, it was impossible to casually search and find out. You had to find out how to research and who to contact on your own.
Line drawings are the starting point of Ryohei Yanagiwara's work. For him, sketching is part of daily life, and sketching starts with line drawings. He has left behind many tasteful works using line drawings. The illustrations in "Three Policemen" (Gakken) are one of the works where such illustrations can be seen. The three main characters, the policemen, are all, as usual, two-and-a-half-headed, and have almost the same faces except for the direction of their whiskers, but
Last time, I wrote about the creation of the immortal character "Uncle Tris," who has been active for over half a century since its creation in 1958. Even Ryohei Yanagihara himself probably never imagined that he would be so popular for so long. This is proof that the work contains a universality that even the author himself is not aware of. In other words, Ryohei Yanagihara's work contains "universality called charm."
The path, the ship and the port that you carve for yourself are themes that Ryohei Yanagihara has faced throughout his life, and anyone who looks at his paintings is captivated by Yanagihara's unique style, which is full of originality. I will write about his charm many times in the future, changing hands and objects, but before that, I would like to highlight another characteristic of his work: the interestingness of his portraits. .
It's frustrating not being able to say what's good about it The charm of ship paintings and the fun of portraits A painting of a ship by Ryohei Yanagihara. Sometimes it's a luxury cruise ship moored at a pier, and sometimes it's a powerful container ship being unloaded with a crane. Some of the works depict passengers waving from the deck of a passenger ship, or a captain gazing at the ship's course from the bridge of a cargo ship. Although the painting of the ship itself is far from realistic, it exudes a unique sense of detail and condensation, while the people are deformed to look like manga. .