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Color Theory & Life in Japan

I recently had a chance to go to Maruzen Bookshop in downtown with some other artists after we checked out a recent exhibition at the Miyagi Museum of Art. I’ll fill you in on that trip later. I’m very limited in my Japanese language comprehension right now, especially anything past Hiragana, Katakana, and maybe some Kanji recognition. One of my friends was nice enough to direct me to the color theory books in the art section. Of course, I looked around to see if there were any western titles I recognized like Interaction of Color by Albers, but we couldn’t find it. Instead, there were quite a few books by Japanese authors on color theory in art, design, culture, etc. Apparently, there are a lot of resources out there on the subject; however, there is the language barrier which often feels like preparation for a deep space mission when I attempt to work it out. Life as a resident alien; it is what it is.

I did, however, find this fantastic tool for ¥780 ($6.35).


配色カード 199a の構成内容、監修一般財団法人日本色彩研究所

(New Color Scheme Card 199a Organizer, created under the general supervision of The Japan Color Research Institute).

Has 24 vivid tone hues (色相), deep, dark, pale, light, bright, soft, dull, light grayish, dark grayish each 12 hues 10 tones (の10トーソ:各12色相)

(Achromatic color): 17 stages (無彩色 : 17 段階), Pink: 10 colors (色), Brown: 7 colors (色), off Neutral: 15 colors (色), Flesh (肌色): 6 colors (色).

Made by Nippon Iro-ken business Co., Ltd. (日本色研事業株式会社).

Published: Tokyo Kojimachi © Japan Iro-ken 1998 (東京麹町 © 日本色研 1998)

This card set is from Lot No. 01407. The disclaimer states,

“Please understand that Lot No. colored paper will change because of the printing of color might be different.” (おことわり 印刷 による 色紙 の ため Lot No . が 変わる と 色 が 異なる場合 が あり ます ので ご 了承 ください 。)

For those of you who have worked with color aid paper, this is a very inexpensive tool that can be used similarly. I’m going to keep exploring and learning more about what different artists use here in Japan in their studio practice. I’ll keep you posted as to what I discover.