Kamekura Tokyo Olympics 1964

Following a brief period of peace and rebuilding in Japan after their defeat in the 2nd world war, Tokyo was to host the next Olympic games in the capital of Tokyo. This was a symbolic gesture that would hopefully show the world that Japan was not only willing to put aside past differences and move forward towards a unified and prosperous international community. Since this event would have Japan front and center on the global stage they wanted a designer that could create works that were distinctly Japanese while also being inclusive of other areas of the world. Yusaku Kamekura was given the chance to design the branding behind the series of posters for the event, which would go on to make up some of his most iconic and prolific pieces in his growing portfolio.

This poster series was the first, ever in Olympic history, to feature photographs as an element in their design. Kamekura sought to bring the attention to the athletes by having these photographs be the focal point for the two posters shown below. As for the elements of his design, they follow Kamekura’s usual simplistic style with simple and clear geometric forms. The red circle is actually symbolic of many things and one of which is the obvious reference to the modern Hinomaru flag. Kamekura has also said that this symbol is reminiscent of the rising sun, which is meant to symbolize a new era of peace and prosperity for Japan and the outside world.

I think Kamekura was able to create a uniquely timeless and incredibly applicable piece with this project. Not only did he manage an amazing photographic feat for the time, he also managed to create a system that was synonymous with Japan and at the same time something that could be applied to anywhere around the world. The message was clear, regardless of language and this is what Kamekura strived for in all his works.

This piece also offers a decent foil for designing the Olympics brand for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Many Japanese designers, such as Kazumasa Nagai, are looking to Kamekura’s approach to the creative blending of international design and the Japanese identity to get a better understanding of how to proceed with the next event.

Works Cited:

“Power of Design Yusaku Kamekura Demonstrated at the Tokyo Olympics.” BRAIN, 18 Aug. 2015, brainmag.sendenkaigi.com/post/126991609085/power-of-design-yusaku-kamekura-demonstrated-at.

“社団法人 日本グラフィックデザイナー協会 JAGDA.” JAGDAAbout JAGDA, www.jagda.or.jp/en/about/.https://medium.com/@kailindong/yusaku-kamekura-biography-8b15c3fcb0c7