Symposium Celebrating Yōkai Hikimaku from Waseda, Featured in the British Museum's Manga Exhibition

WASEDA University

2019/6/21 16:30

21 June 2019

Symposium Celebrating Yōkai Hikimaku from Waseda, Featured in the British Museum's Manga Exhibition

Explore how classical works are revitalized with digital technology

‘Yōkai Hikimaku’ is a kabuki theatre curtain painted by famed artist KAWANABE Kyōsai (1831-1889), featuring various Japanese demons called yōkai. The Theatre Museum at Waseda University has recently digitized this piece in high-definition, converting the still images of the demons into vivid animation, in collaboration with Toppan Printing. This symposium explores various examples of artwork turned digital in Japan and the UK, including the yōkai theatre curtain, demonstrating how classical works can be revitalized with the assistance of digital technology. Curators from the British Museum will reveal the secrets behind the yōkai theatre curtain and its relationship with the museum’s Manga exhibition.

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- Symposium “Classical Arts x Digital Technologies”

- Date & Time: Saturday 29 June 2019, 14:00-16:30 (Doors open at 13:30)

- Venue: Japan House London, 101-111 Kensington High Street, London W8 5SA

- Admission free; Booking essential

- For booking, visit:

- Organized by the Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University and Japan House London

- In co-operation with University of Birmingham and the Global Japanese Studies Model Unit, Top Global University Project at Waseda University


14:00 Opening Remarks

Simon WRIGHT, Director - Programming, Japan House London

KASAHARA Hironori, Vice President, Waseda University

Part 1: Digital Technologies to Revive Classical Arts

14:10 Classical Arts Meet Digital Technologies at the Theatre Museum

OKAMURO Minako, Director of the Theatre Museum, Waseda University

14:30 Preserving Culture with Digital Humanities

Matt HAYLER, Senior Lecturer, University of Birmingham

Dominique CHEN, Professor, Waseda University

15:00 Q&A

15:10 Break

Part 2: The Yōkai Kabuki Theatre Curtain

15:25 KAWANABE Kyōsai and the Remaking of Japanese Art

Tim CLARK, Head of the Japanese Section, Department of Asia at the British Museum

15:40 The Citi exhibition Manga and KAWANABE Kyōsai’s Curtain

Nicole Coolidge ROUSMANIERE, Curator, the Japanese Collections at the British Museum

15:55 The Journey of the Yōkai Theatre Curtain

KODAMA Ryūichi, Vice Director of the Theatre Museum, Waseda University

16:10 Q&A

16:20 Closing Remarks

Robin MASON, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (International), University of Birmingham

16:45 Reception (until 18:00)


This painted curtain was a gift from KANAGAKI Robun, a popular writer in the Edo and Meiji periods, to the Shintomi-za Theatre in Tokyo, a popular theatre in the early Meiji period. It is said that the artist KAWANABE Kyōsai, a friend of Robun’s, finished the painting in just four hours, drinking the entire way through. In the painting, popular kabuki actors such as ICHIKAWA Danjuro IX and ONOE Kikugoro V are depicted as yōkai, or demons, jumping out of a bamboo box and heading for the audience in the theatre. This is an extremely fascinating piece not only because of the unique artist who created it, but because kabuki theatre curtains are so rarely preserved.


A digital image and an animation were created to celebrate ‘Yōkai Hikimaku' being featured in the Citi Manga exhibition at the British Museum.

‘Yōkai Hikimaku’ is a large work of art, measuring 4 meters wide and 17 meters long, and it is very difficult to capture in its entirety. To digitally archive this piece, a special set was installed into the studio. The curtain was then divided into 419 sections, and a photograph of each section was taken with a digital camera. These photographs were then compiled to create a high-definition image of 9.4 billion pixels.

In the animated version of the image, two troops of demons led by kabuki actors ICHIKAWA Danjuro IX and ONOE Kikugoro V confront one another in a face off. Viewers are also able to see how the curtain was used in the kabuki theatre, as the moving images depict the interior of the Shintomi-za Theatre and how it appeared in date.

©Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum, Waseda University; Toppan Printing Co. Ltd.


Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum has loaned the ‘Yōkai Hikimaku’ to the exhibition, which is considered the largest manga exhibition in the world outside of Japan. This large art work is on display on the museum’s wall, providing a dramatic backdrop for exhibition visitors. The exhibition is taking place at the British Museum from 23 May to 26 August, 2019. Learn more about the exhibition here:



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