“Koshimaki-Osen” – Tadanori Yokoo

Tadanori Yokoo’s poster “Koshimaki-Osen,” which can be literally translated as “Loincloth Hermit,” is a work the artist produced in 1966 in advertisement of an upcoming theatrical event which was to be put on by the Gekidan Kara-Kumi troupe. The poster, advertising a show open only to those above 18 years of age, as evidenced by the text on the tongue of the open mouth near the poster’s lower left corner, is laden not only with innuendos, but with many of Yokoo’s signature personal motifs as well.

The poster is comprised of a cacophonous symphony of elements; of pieces which should not make sense together, should not seem to meld together to create one singular whole, but which attract viewers’ attention and admiration nonetheless. It uses a balanced, symmetrical composition, considering elements on the left and mirroring them, to a degree, on the right. We see the vertical symmetry of the poster in Yokoo’s placement of ocean wave motifs, columns of text, and collage figures. These collage figures, assumedly members of the theatre troupe to which this production belongs, appear at the center of the composition, facing each other in dynamic poses and at an angle which intrigues the viewer. They appear in black and white with only a pop of color on one figure’s lips, a pink shade the only thing which assimilates the photo into the rest of the poster’s style, bringing Yokoo’s trademark photo-collage element into the piece. The figures have been superimposed upon an image of a rising sun, and are bracketed on either side by graphic depictions of Hokusai-inspired ocean waves, two of Yokoo’s most trademark motifs. Above the figures, one ray emanating from the rising sun becomes a guide of perspective, a nude woman outfitted in only a helmet catapulting forward from the center of the rising sun. Copies of the woman which diminish in size appear below her, following a single ray until reaching the center of the rising sun. This nude woman seems to pop out from the two-dimensional world of the poster and into the three-dimensional world from which the viewer sees her, and this is emphasized by the title text above the woman, which reads in three-dimensional extruded block letters. The last prominent aspect of the poster is the large graphic peach placed at the lower middle of the composition, slightly covering the collage figures. This peach, a reference to a Japanese folktale in which an elderly couple find a peach and open it to reveal a healthy young boy, Momotaro, who goes on to become a monster-defeating warrior, bears meaning to Japan, as the country adopted Momotaro as a national icon during WWII. Here, Yokoo uses the peach to represent an idealized past.

“Koshimaki-Osen” is a poster which accurately portrays the vast majority of Yokoo’s work: it is a piece which does its job to advertise, which also functions as a standalone piece of art, and which is steeped in Yokoo’s own personal motifs and style.


***excluding references, this post fits within the word limit at 469 words***


  • Whittick, Olivia. “Aesthetic Shock: Designer Tadanori Yokoo.” Ssense, 2 Feb. 2017, www.ssense.com/en-us/editorial/culture/aesthetic-shock-designer-tadanori-yokoo-2.
  • Mangialardi, Nicholas. “Art and Advertisement in Yokoo Posters.” Remix and Dialogic Culture, 2014, blogs.commons.georgetown.edu/cctp-725-fall2014/2014/02/25/art-and-advertisement-in-yokoo-posters/.