ddd 214

Kouga Hirano and Shobunsha

  • The exhibition displayed some 600 of the more than 7,000 books designed by Kouga Hirano over the course of more than half a century, with a focus on those he designed for the publishing firm Shobunsha. The books were arranged by series on shelves set into the gallery's inner walls and on display tables, affording visitors an opportunity to take the books in hand just as they would in a used book shop. The gallery walls were also used to display 80 reworked versions of decorative handwritten works originally shown at his solo exhibition in Taichung, Taiwan in 2017, and his theater and concert flyers and posters-another area in which Hirano has been very active. To these original works Hirano added written notes and then printed them on washi paper. The items on display were accompanied by captions relating anecdotes from the period when Shobunsha was founded, providing visitors with a nostalgic look back at a period when books, publishers and book designers enjoyed close and mutually productive relationships.

  • ID


  • Exhibition Name

    Kouga Hirano and Shobunsha

  • Period

    September 04, 2017–October 24, 2017

  • Exhibition Type

    Traveling exhibition from ddd to ggg

  • Venue

    ddd Uzumasa, Kyoto

  • Featured Designers

  • Poster Designers

  • October 24, 2017

    kyoto ddd gallery

    A Gallery Tour was led by Osamu Torinoumi, a friend of Kouga Hirano who mobilized the assistance of students from Kyoto Seika University, to set up this exhibition. Using the books on display as examples, Mr. Torinoumi spoke of the distinguishing features of Mr. Hirano's work: his use of only three Mincho typefaces in titled, his use of typefaces of different thicknesses, his tendency to pack characters and letters close together, etc. Referring to the individual posters mounted on the gallery walls, Mr. Torinoumi revealed how much he is a fan of Mr. Hirano's work, through episodes as "each individual character seems impossible, but the whole fits well together" or "Mr. Hirano's superlative skill at sketching conveys emotion through the title on the cover." Mr. Torinoumi closed his remarks with the view that during the more than 30 years Mr. Hirano worked at Shobunsha, although he learned typography and design from Kogei Sugiura and Kiyoshi Awazu, ultimately he did not fit into their mold but rather created a style all his own.

  • September 04, 2017
    Gallery Talk
    kyoto ddd gallery

    Thie Gallery Talk was an exchange between of Mr. Hirano and Sou Kurokawa, a critic and writer of fiction. They have known each other for more than 30 years, starting from when Mr. Kurokawa took part in editing Shunsuke Tsurumi's "Shiso no Kagaku (Science of Thought)," a book designed by Mr. Hirano. Mr. Kurokawa opined that, generally, the relationship between the editor of a book and its designer is tense, like that between the actors in a play and the stage props, but in Mr. Hirano's case, he goes beyond this and is a full-fledged collaborator. Mr. Hirano said that, in retrospect, he had to works that way because he has always been supported by like-minded colleagues. When asked why, even today, he continues to touch up works he created in the past, Mr. Hirano replied that what he is doing today is the most interesting, and he takes pleasure in the beauty of the Japanese language. The written word not only expresses concepts; there is also meaning in its form, and when considered repeatedly, different perspectives and new discoveries are made.


Photographer: YOSHIDA Akihito

Related Links