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[ISHES Newsletter #31]A Sustainability Message Spanning Five Decades: Environmental Manga Artist Hiroshi Takatsuki (High Moon)

2021/02/25 14:24:55

ISHES Newsletter #31
February 25, 2021

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Copyright (c) 2021

Institute for Studies in Happiness, Economy and Society, Japan


Dear Readers,

In Japan, coronavirus vaccinations are now underway, first for healthcare workers and then for people aged over 65, but still many challenges remain as the country works toward complete coverage. Looking around the world, there are gaps between the "haves" and "have-nots" on many fronts, not just in terms of vaccinations but with many other challenges as well, and it looks like we still have a difficult year ahead. The Institute for Studies in Happiness, Economy and Society (ISHES) will continue seeking out and sharing valuable stories as Japan moves toward a "new normal." We hope our readers will stay positive and find inspiration and creative ideas to get us all through this together.

In this February 2021 issue, you will find the following articles:

- A Sustainability Message Spanning Five Decades: Environmental Manga Artist Hiroshi Takatsuki (High Moon)
Manga (cartoons) have the power to convey a message without words, and even to go beyond language. Our feature article introduces the genius and works of Hiroshi Takatsuki (alias High Moon), who for decades has been creating compelling manga art on environmental themes.

- Recommended articles from the JFS Newsletter
Behold the environmental manga of Hiroshi Takatsuki, a collection of his cartoons carried by JFS once every month for years.


A Sustainability Message Spanning Five Decades: Environmental Manga Artist Hiroshi Takatsuki (High Moon)


By the Institute for Studies in Happiness, Economy and Society, Japan

One of Joe Biden's first acts after being inaugurated as president of the United States in January 2021 was to sign an executive order to have his country rejoin the Paris Agreement. To mark the occasion, prolific Japanese environmental manga artist Hiroshi Takatsuki drew a cartoon depicting the re-entry of the U.S. into the climate accord.

Paris Agreement: CO2 Reduction Game
"Welcome back!"
Artist's note: One hopes this little change in membership will help improve their game.
(The alias "High Moon" comes from his family name, with "taka" meaning high and "tsuki" meaning moon).

A special thing about cartoons and manga as a medium is that they can deliver a message without words. And they can go beyond words. This month's issue of the ISHES newsletter focuses on the efforts of Takatsuki, who has created a platform that uses manga to succinctly portray environmental topics and for us to learn and think together about what we can do about them.

High Moon Gallery

Takatsuki's diverse range of titles includes being the director of Miyako Ecology Center, the chairman of the Kyoto Environmental Activities Association (KEAA), professor emeritus at Kyoto University (Ph.D. in engineering, waste management), and member of the Japan Cartoonists Association. He likes illustrating and publishing cartoon works on his website, High Moon Gallery.

While still a student in 1966, Takatsuki self-published his first collection of manga, entitled "A-a" (meaning "Oh, my!" in Japanese). Inspired by an art club friend who had been drawing single-panel manga for a magazine, he taught himself how to create manga by studying foreign cartoons. The title "A-a" originates from the feeling of "Oh, my. What are we going to do?" Since those early days he has maintained a consistent style that seems to strike a chord among readers.

He started drawing manga on the environment in 1978. At the time there was a debate in Kyoto about the growing litter problem from discarded soft drink cans, and many discussed the responsibility of the industries that had introduced disposable containers into the market, along with the need for measures to prevent littering. Hoping to raise public awareness about the litter problem, Takatsuki created and printed at his own expense a publicity campaign-style booklet of his manga, "Akikan" (meaning "Empty Cans").

Since 1982, he has contributed two comics entitled "Gomic Haikibutsu" (Garbage Cartoon) to every issue of the monthly industry journal Haikibutsu (The Monthly Waste). The title of these comics conveys his questioning about our lifestyles that waste precious things. These comics have gradually expanded from initial themes of garbage and waste problems to environmental issues as a whole. Each set of 100 manga are compiled into books and published as a collection in print about once every four years.

The Gomic manga was featured for a few years in a biweekly series, "Learning Ecology by Professor High Moon's Cartoon," in the local pages of the Kyoto Shimbun newspaper since April 2016. One cartoon was selected from his collection each time and combined with a commentary to help readers learn about that particular issue.

"Picturecology" was published in 1990 as a picture book consisting of illustrations and stories. It contained his works that had been published in the bimonthly newsletter of the Chubu Recycle Citizens' Organization. The book clearly explains various environmental issues with data and illustrations. The material was updated and reprinted a number of times, and republished as a separate book containing 87 works in 2002.

In 1992, the Japan Environmental Exchange (J.E.E.) began publishing an Eco-Calendar on an environmental theme, featuring important environment-related dates each calendar year. The 13 manga illustrations on the cover and monthly calendar pages convey Japanese and English bilingual messages for the environmental movement. It has been published annually for 30 years, but having reached this milestone, the final year for the calendar is 2021, regrettably.

One of his works, "Ima Eco" (Now Eco), is a little different from the rest. It appeared in a promotional magazine of a department store from 2011 to 2014, to introduce environmentally friendly products with his illustrations in a fun way. For example, the image below was to introduce recycled Japanese fashion items such as Japanese-style bags and sandal thongs, originally made from used kimonos and traditional obi-belts of customers.

"The remade bag contains our memories, too..."

Eco Manga

The environmental NGO Japan for Sustainability (JFS, where Junko Edahiro, also president of ISHES, served as chief executive) posted on illustration a month from "Cartoon Gomic" with an English translation as "Eco Manga" on its website. The series carried a total of 187 illustrations between June 2003 and 2018 when JFS ended active operations.

The information from JFS reached a high-interest global audience of individuals concerned about sustainable society. The Eco Cartoons always ranked high in web traffic, which attests to the quality and clarity of the message. In 2011, JFS held a Cartoon Popularity Contest for readers to choose their favorites, and the following ones came in as the top three.

No.1 How long can this situation be sustained?

No.2: Garbage-kind

No.3 What are the things that we really need?

The Gomic series continues to this day, and some collections have been published as books both in Japanese and English.

Ecology Center (Kyoto)

Takatsuki also serves as the director of the Miyako Ecology Center, established in 2002 in Kyoto to commemorate the third Session of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP3), when the Kyoto Protocol was adopted. The Center aims to expand environmental education and environmental conservation activities. The Center's website carries the following director's greeting from Takatsuki.
Hello everyone! I hope you all are well.

Actually, the Earth we are living on is in some trouble at the moment, in terms of environmental issues. What are the environmental issues like? Extreme weather caused by global warming, for one thing. We are also facing resource and energy issues, which lead to waste problems and water issues. The Miyako Ecology Center is a place to study such global environmental issues and think about how we can save the Earth.

Please come and join us. "Eco-mate" volunteers are waiting to show you around the Center. Let's study environmental issues together and think about what we can do about them. We look forward to seeing you!

(From the website of the Miyako Ecology Center: )

To realize a sustainable local society, the Miyako Ecology Center provides a wide range of environmental education programs to bring together many people, including children, adults, business people, students, and NPO workers from Japan and around the world. It aims to be a place for the following three purposes:

1. A place to nurture people working for environmental conservation activities,
2. A place to support and work with environmental conservation activities,
3. A place to release achievements in environmental conservation activities.

The Center's website features Takatsuki's illustrations adding a touch of color in many places. Its mascot is also designed by him. It represents the planet Earth and is nicknamed "Chikyumaru" ("chikyu" meaning earth + globe, and "maru" meaning round). It depicts a troubled character with a high fever, with the message, "I'll get better if everyone leads an environmentally friendly way of life!"

From his base in Kyoto, Hiroshi Takatsuki been actively delivering environmental information and messages for over five decades as a manga artist so that people at home and abroad can understand environmental issues, while also nurturing and supporting people working locally on in environmental conservation activities. And he's not done yet! We hope you'll watch out for his future works!


Recommended articles from the JFS Newsletter on sustainability issues in Japan


In this regular section of each issue of the ISHES Newsletter, we recommend past articles from Japan for Sustainability newsletters. The non-profit JFS was active from August 2002 until July 2018, sending out information to the world with the aim of moving society in Japan and the world toward sustainability and greater happiness.

This month we introduce an Eco Cartoons section dedicated to the works of environmental manga artist Hiroshi Takatsuki. At this link what you will find is not a newsletter article but a chance to peruse 187 of his works, one featured each month over the years JFS was actively publishing online.

Eco Cartoons

Institute for Studies in Happiness, Economy and Society

*The Institute for Studies in Happiness, Economy and Society (ISHES) is an organization based in Japan that is working to build a happy and sustainable society. To this end, we need to think about happiness, the economy and society together by learning from, analyzing, and thinking about theories and cases in Japan and around the world on what happiness is and what kind of economy and society will create and support happiness.

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