Chiaki Kohara

Idol? Anime? Art

Chiaki Kohara is an artist from Osaka. Born in 1986, she is still young enough to have the vibrant quality of a J-Pop idol. And her art has the lively quality of anime.

But look underneath the surface of her colorful characters and one gets the sense that there is much more to her art than at first glance. Which isn't exactly a surprise, when you consider that a young woman of 27, with nearly a decade of professional work under her belt, should have a wealth of experience than the gaudy pastel colors first reveal.

Under the Skin

I know that when I first met Chiaki in April 2013, I thought,"Wow, cute!" I thought that about her as a person and her art. But I also saw sneering, somewhat unhappy looking people in her characters. They seemed like they were a bit disturbed, not unlike some versions of the characters in Alice in Wonderland. It was in great contrast to her playful and cheery personality.

This was, however, not disturbing, but strangely gratifying in Japan, where there is no shortage of euphoric "cute." Instead, Hug-chan seemed to relish in her disdain for pure "cute," and would rather be prepared for both the best and worst in people.

Nevertheless, there is no doubt that as a young woman Chiaki Kohara is blessed with a tremendous supply of cute. Both she and her characters bubble with Lolita-esque and Kawaii-Goth fashion.

Kohara's art has certainly grown since 2007, when she won the Yayoi Kusama choice UNIQLO Creative Award, and being rewarded with a shirt design sold in Uniqlo stores.

She has since been awarded on numerous occasions and has held exhibitions throughout Japan and in Korea and Taiwan. Perhaps her greatest achievement so far has been having her art adorn the SONY Building in Ginza in the "Canvas @ SONY" Art Wall Exhibition.

Needless to say, I think that Chiaki Kohara's art is very much representative of something cool in contemporary Japan. You can find her online at the following:

mikekato image


United States

mikekato's other advice

A Really Close Shave... images

A Really Close Shave...

I've been shaving my head for the past 15 years. It is a chore, but I've gotten used to it. It sometimes grows a bit, during camps and sometimes during long holidays like Golden Week. But basically, …

An Eye-con of Shinjuku images

An Eye-con of Shinjuku

Subaru is a fairly well known brand globally, particularly for those who are familiar with off-road racing. It's definitely not as much a household brand name as Toyota or Honda, or even companies kn…

Send Out the Towels images

Send Out the Towels

Ikeuchi Organic is a Japanese company that makes towels like no other. Towels are not its only products, but towels are the company's core products. And what wonderful towels they are!The company…

Lights, Camera, Attraction! images

Lights, Camera, Attraction!

There's no shortage of holiday blessings in Japan. Not being a Christian nation has never stopped Japan from adopting this holiday as its own. And while Christmas caroling has not yet become a holi…

I'm Punched images

I'm Punched

At a recent bonenkai (year-end party), one of the entertainers was Neko Punch. Neko Punch is a band, led by singer/songwriter Leanne and producer/bass player Macc. Later, the duo was joined by dancer…

Celestial Geisha: A Perfect Performance images

Celestial Geisha: A Perfect Performance

Yes, you may not realize it, but not only is there a history of geisha in Tokyo, but there are quite a few places where there are active geisha communities, including Kagurazaka, Asakusa, Shinbashi/G…

You might also like

What to do at a Japanese Funeral | Funeral Etiquette images

What to do at a Japanese Funeral | Funeral Etiquette

Attending a Japanese funeral can be stressful, even shocking, if you don't know what to do. The more you know beforehand the better, as you'll be able to comfort and support mutual friends and their …

Former Deep Japan Writer image

Former Deep Japan Writer

Don't Wear Black in Japan images

Don't Wear Black in Japan

In Japan, the color white is attributed to happiness and good times. Death is a time of mourning and so people must dress in the color of depression, black. Men usually wear a black suit with a black…

GenS image


Yurei, Yokai and Obake: Japan's Very Busy Ghost Scene images

Yurei, Yokai and Obake: Japan's Very Busy Ghost Scene

Ghosts and spirits hold a place in the folklore of many cultures around the world. In the western world, Halloween, observed on October 31st, is a time for scary, spooky tales, while Latin America w…

jdlawrence image


Enjoy bath, Japanese style images

Enjoy bath, Japanese style

Enjoy taking bath with Babu(Bub), a popular Japanese bath tablet to Relax after Exploring Japan on Foot.All travelers know how sight seeing can be exhausting. Especially walking around on foot, t…

mimichan image


Ride The Tokyo Metro Like A Boss With These Apps images

Ride The Tokyo Metro Like A Boss With These Apps

To people new to Japan, the Tokyo subway system, stylishly called "Tokyo Metro" is a confusing labyrinth of lines going every which way. Orderly thought and planning, it would appear, seem to be the…

jdlawrence image


Why Do Japanese People Call Mt. Fuji, Mr. Fuji? images

Why Do Japanese People Call Mt. Fuji, Mr. Fuji?

If you wondered why Japanese people refer to Mt. Fuji as Mr. Fuji, you are not alone.When I first came to Japan, and actually until about two years ago, well okay, actually it still happens a lot…