Nogizaka46 Yumi Wakatsuki, collaboration with hometown Shizuoka and design: What are the roots full of small treasures

乃木坂46 若月佑美、地元静岡とデザインでコラボ:小さな宝物溢れるルーツとは
Nogizaka46 Yumi Wakatsuki, collaboration with hometown Shizuoka and design: What are the roots full of small treasures

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Yumi Wakatsuki of Nogizaka46 designed the original T-shirt for the “Street Performance World Cup in Shizuoka 2018,” which will take place in her hometown of Shizuoka from November 1st to 4th, and her design is enjoying a good reputation. The event gathers more attention than any other performing arts festival in Asia, this year expecting 1.5 million visitors.
Wakatsuki just announced her graduation from Nogizaka46 on October 1st.

She writes “I would like to build on what I experienced in Nogizaka46 to realize my next dream.” What does she have in store for us?
The group just gave its first live performance in China at a live event organized by the Japan-China Youth Friendship Exchange Program in the world heritage site of Daming Palace National Heritage Park in Xi’an. We visited Wakatsuki after she came back from China, and asked her about her views on her hometown of Shizuoka, her design, and her painting.


– This time the offer came from your hometown of Shizuoka, and we heard that some of your fans are now interested in the Street Performance World Cup that the city is hosting. How would you describe the charms of Shizuoka to people outside the prefecture or outside Japan?

”Well, I think Mt. Fuji is almost like Japan’s icon among people overseas, and of course, we can see Mt. Fuji from Shizuoka. But I’d rather say that I like this city because it has more little gems and little nice things. Yui’s sakura shrimp or young sardine are good examples. I want people to try sakura shrimp tempuras or freshly-boiled young sardine in an old and local restaurant, and see that Shizuoka has these little gems as well.
I want people to come to Shizuoka on their second visit to Japan. They can visit all the major places like Tokyo or Kyoto that you find in guide books on their first visit, but I want them to come to Shizuoka if they are coming back to Japan.“

– Are you inspired by the scenery and the environment of your hometown when you paint?

”Yes, I felt a huge gap between Shizuoka and Tokyo in a good sense when I moved to Tokyo. I noticed that I could not take for granted what I had in Shizuoka, like the nature and Mt. Fuji, which I saw every morning through my bedroom window. I want to keep them, and I could do that in photographs, but the only way I can express my own Mt. Fuji is by paining it myself. I really want to preserve what I had and do not have now.“

– Are you influenced by other countries, or is there a country where you want to learn design or art in the future?

”With regards to the US, I have only been to Guam lol. I have not been to cities like New York, and there they have Broadway in terms of stage performance, and sometimes I feel like I want to study various things there. Also, I visited Spain for a photoshoot of a photo book, and in a city called Mijas, I saw dishes hung on white walls. The dishes were very decorative, and the fact that they were hung on a wall was so fantastic. I felt a large difference because in Japan, we only use dishes for serving food. Also, the walls were really white, and it looked like vacuum, like zero. So if you paint the scenery, it will be a blank, and you want to fill in that. But if everything is so white, even little things like dishes do stand out, and it was really great to see that. It really challenged my old ideas. I had always thought it is the color black that accentuates other colors, so I had been using a lot of black in the background, like red on black rather than red on white. But I saw the charm of the color white overseas, so I thought I should start using more bright colors lol.“


She paints more abstract work than figurative work, and she says she puts her emotions into her work, explaining she likes to ”paint what cannot be expressed through words.“
The blog announcement of her retirement reads ”I have a dream to realize.“
What are her plans for the future after leaving Nogizaka46?

”The Street Performance World Cup“ is an annual event that started in 1992, and is participated by over 90 groups of artists both from Japan and overseas. This year, the central area of Aoi-ward, Shizuoka-city will host the event from November 1st to 4th, and the city is expecting outstanding performance by artists from around the world.
Wakatsuki’s T-shirt is available on the official website of the event until October 6th for pre-sales, and during the event, it will be available in the ”Asahi TV Area“ inside Sumpu Castle Park, etc.
People from overseas are welcome to check out this annual event and find Shizuoka’s charms.

Related Links
Street Performance World Cup in Shizuoka 2018

Nogizaka 46 official website

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Related Artists : Nogizaka46
Kenji Harada

The venerable Japanese word "kawaii" is not the adjective "cute"; it is just a word used to communicate the state of mind of feeling love for something.

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