Manga is, perhaps, one of the most famous Japanese art forms. Popular both locally and internationally; it’s hard to escape manga, when in Japan. There are entire stores dedicated to it – targeting a wide audience – with different genres. Over the years, manga has evolved from comic books into graphic novels. Some paperbacks run into a series of volumes. Themes vary from legends, folklore to modern concepts. Although, finding a manga book in English, might prove to be a challenge. The airport store (expensive) might be a good place for any last minute shopping. An alternate option would be to order books online and it could turn out to be cheaper. We picked up a beginner’s book on Kanji and though it sits pretty on our bookshelf – it’s worth the buy.
Netsuke or the art of miniature sculptures is quite fascinating. We first came across a netsuke exhibit at the Tokyo National Museum. Intricate patterns of animals, people or a mix of both dominate carvings. Although, the true purpose of netsuke, was to serve as a holder/container for personal effects; it seems to have evolved into an internationally recognised art form. Depending on the level of detail and concept, netsuke sculptures vary in price. Souvenirs are available at small tourist shops of Arashiyama (Kyoto) or Asakusa (Tokyo). The more serious art collector might have to do a bit of hunting.
Kabuki paintings won’t be hard to find in Japan. On shop shutters, product labels in supermarkets or hoardings; they seem to be everywhere. Kabuki was an ancient Japanese form of musical drama. To see some stunning works of Kabuki artists, the Tokyo National Museum would be a good place to begin.