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The SMA MASTERCLASS 2016 Special Report Day 4: The bullet train / Mixing with Japanese apprentices

Taiyo Nakashima Taiyo Nakashima 10/03/2016 8 min read
Farewell Tokyo! On Thursday morning, dragging bags heavily laden with Tokyo souvenirs, the Master Class sleepily boarded a Shinkansen (Bullet Train) headed for Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan. shink

Japanese-style Bentos for lunch

  Arriving in Kyoto, the Master Class dropped off their bags, and then went straight to the first item of business:
shinchou Shinchosaryou is built on the site of the former Honnoji Temple, the final resting place of the Japanese Warlord Oda Nobunaga. It serves as a shrine to Nobunaga and Samurai Manga set in the Sengoku period. On the lower floors of Shinchosaryou, the Master Class came face-to-face with: The Ghost of Oda Nobunaga!!!!

Oda Nobunaga

Have no fear, he’s no vengeful spirit, he’s the guide! The tour began with the “Tomb of Nobunaga”. Since Honnoji Temple was burned to the ground around the warlord, no body remains, but Nobunaga’s ashes are thought to be mixed into the earth in this spot.

Nobunaga explaining the finer points of Japanese sword play.

On the wall behind Nobunaga-san is the phrase 天下布武 (Ten-ka-fu-bu : “Governing the land while following the 7 virtues of the Samurai”), painted by a famous calligrapher. This phrase was used on Nobunaga’s personal seal.

Group photo in the tomb. Everyone was very keen to hold the swords;)

But Shinchosaryou contains more than dark basements and old calligraphy! On the 2nd floor is a recreation of Tetsu Hara‘s (creator of Fist of the North Star) workplace. IMG_2475 This is a replica of Hara-sensei’s desk, complete with all the tools that he uses. The skeleton is for reference when drawing Fist of the North Star’s martial arts techniques (A-TATATATATA!!!!) Some of the Master Class couldn’t resist trying out the Hara-sensei’s comfy chair 😉

Who’s the boss? Lounging in Hara-sensei’s chair.


This is what a pro mangaka looks like!

Shinchosaryou also contains a SILENT MANGA AUDITION “Hall of Fame”, and a bar where you can order manga character-themed cocktails. After the tour, the Master Class settled in for a manga workshop. Also participating in the workshop were students from Kyoto Zoukei Daigaku (a famous art college in Kyoto). This was a chance to both learn about story-telling, and rub shoulders with local manga students. Task 1: To learn how to tell a story across cultures, using wire-man as characters. DSC_0099 First, everyone created a “wire-man”, using 3 pieces of wire. These wire-men were then put in a variety of poses to create various stories and situations. If there’s no explanation, then depending on the viewers background or culture, they might interpret the situations in different ways… just like a SILENT MANGA!

What do you see? 5 people dancing? Or a Super-Sentai stance?

Of course, as winners of SILENT MANGA AUDITION, they’re already old-hands as this sort of thing. Even recreating and guessing anime titles using wire-men was no problem;)

See the pig-tails? That’s Sailormoon wire-man.

  Task 2: Drawing a samurai from the Sengoku period. Everyone picked up their pens, and suddenly a very different group sat before us. The easy-going smiles were replaced with looks of intense concentration as they practiced their craft.

Creating manga together while listening to music. Now that’s great teamwork!


Everyone was very keen to use the copic markers.


Is that Hamtaro drawing manga??

Samurai Armour – for reference and inspiration!

  The results… IMG_2514 IMG_2513 IMG_2512 IMG_2511 IMG_2510 IMG_2509 IMG_2508 IMG_2507 IMG_2506 IMG_2505 IMG_2504 IMG_2503 IMG_2502 Look at that artistic skill! In just under 90 minutes, we had 14 amazing Samurai, done in 14 different styles. That’s the talent that won SILENT MANGA AUDITION 😉 Finally, a tired but satisfied group of mangaka headed back to the hotel, to eat, and to rest. The following day, their Kyoto cultural education would begin… The Manga Museum, famous temples and Geisha!!  

Please come again!

Taiyo Nakashima

Taiyo Nakashima