For their latest collaboration, G-SHOCK are tapping into the rich mythology of their Japanese heritage with Seven Lucky Gods, a new collaboration in partnership with Tokyo-based artist and former pro-skater, Toshikazu Nozaka.
Paying homage to Japan’s Edo and Meji cultural periods (1603-1868 and 1868-1912, respectively), the Seven Lucky Gods comprise Ebisu, Hotei, Benzaiten, Bishamonten, Daikokuten, Juojin, Fukurokuju, each of whom represent specific virtues that Toshikazu references in individual designs. Through reinterpreting ancient myth with a contemporary vision, Bishamonten, the god of warriors and defence against evil is depicted surrounded by skaters, while the Falstaffian figure of Hotei, the god of abundance, is shown with his customary sack and wooden staff.
We sat down with Toshikazu to discuss the influence of Japan’s artistic heritage in his own practice and some of the challenges faced in designing G-SHOCK’s latest collection.
Georgina Gambetta: Growing up in Tokyo, to what extent did the mythology and spirituality of the Seven Lucky Gods have a presence in everyday life?
Toshikazu Nozaka: When you live in Japan, over the New Year period, everyone pays their respects to the Seven Lucky Gods. We believe they can have beneficial effects on our lives, jobs and relationships. Anyone who wants a rich and rewarding life will do this.
GG: Was there a particular God you were interested in?
TN: Personally, I’m interested in all the mythical Japanese Gods. I like all of the Seven Lucky Gods, but I am particularly interested in Juroujin and Fukurokuju.
GG: Your approach to art is influenced by the Edo and Meiji periods – one represented a period of isolationism and the other internationalism, how would you say the representation of the SGL changed across these different eras?
TN: It’s more like I’m looking at the Meiji Period and the Heisei Period (present day) from an Edo period point of view. I feel that the Meiji Period and the present day have many similarities. Just as back in the Meiji Period, today things are changing so fast and we are getting less certain as to what the future will bring. With that in mind, I tried to make a positive image and bring a bit of happiness to this situation.
GG: What elements from the two periods attract you the most – also which did you tap into for the collection?
TN: Rather than being about either the Edo Period or the Meiji period, the works reference elements from the end of the Edo Period up to the middle of the Meiji Period. In that short period of only 50 years, there was a complete change in government and we saw a sudden demise in such crafts as painting and printmaking, which were actually at their peak. There are a lot of very important factors that are packed into this period of history. I’ve contrasted Fukurokuju with kids on BMX for example, to show the fundamental contrast of old meets new.
GG: The collaboration opens up this world of Japanese history and culture to a new audience. Is that important to you?
TN: No matter how the development of technology and so on might change society, I think that there is also a part that should not be changed. With a sense of moderate distance, I designed the project so that the modern person can feel the parts of history that I think should not be forgotten.