Rune Naito’s “The Roots of Kawaii” with Sebastian Masuda in Tokyo

Rune Naito was a Japanese artist and illustrator who was active from the 1950s through the 1970s. He is credited with being one the originators of modern “kawaii” culture. Naito died in 2007, but his influence lives on in Japan and around the world.

Sebastian Masuda at Rune Naito Roots of Kawaii

To celebrate the life and work of Rune Naito, his family is working in collaboration with Japanese fashion designer and visual stylist Sebastian Masuda. Masuda is the founder of the Harajuku fashion brand 6%DOKIDOKI as well as being the mastermind behind many of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s most famous visuals. Masuda, along with the family of Rune Naito, announced the launch of the “Rune Boutique” project last year in Tokyo. The first Rune Boutique event was held in Los Angeles in December, and featured original artwork by Rune Naito, as well as the debut American concert by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.

In May, the second major Rune Naito exhibition in collaboration with Sebastian Masuda opened, this time in Tokyo. The “Roots of Kawaii” exhibition is a little more serious look at the artwork that Naito left behind when he passed away in 2007. The “Roots of Kawaii” at Parco Shibuya features several hundred original works by Rune Naito spanning his entire career. In addition, there is a gift shop featuring a large selection of new kawaii “fancy goods” which were created based on his original works. One of the creations that Naito was most famous for was his kawaii “Rune Panda” character, and that is represented in both the artwork and the goods at “Roots of Kawaii”.

Sebastian Masuda was kind enough to invite us to the “Roots of Kawaii” exhibition in Tokyo. We had our first chance to look at Rune Naito’s original artwork, and we were able to bring back lots of photos to share with you. In addition, Sebastian took some time to speak to us about Rune Naito, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, and what the future holds for “Rune Boutique”/”Roots of Kawaii”. Please check out all of the Rune Naito pictures and Sebastian Masuda video below!

Sebastian Masuda Talks about Rune Naito

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“The Roots of Kawaii” by Rune Naito at Parco Shibuya Pictures

Click on any of the Rune Naito “Roots of Kawaii” pics to enlarge them!

A big thank you to Sebastian Masuda and the Rune Naito family for allowing us to cover this event, and we hope that you’ve enjoyed this “kawaii” history lesson.

For more information, check out the official Rune Naito website (available in English).


All photos by Kira.

About the photographer:
Born in Japan, educated in Japan and the US, Kira shoots exclusively with Canon DSLRs. Photography assignments include fashion, bands, sporting events, and portraiture for various companies and bands throughout Japan & the world. His portfolio can be viewed at Artist-Photo.

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  1. I am in love with this exhibition, I wish i was there to attend and buy the goodies <3 I think im just gonna go cry now (;__;)

  2. cats, cuteness, style, atmosphere, creativity (^o^) and many more (^0^) I love that mirror with the girl, the cat with a girl’s face!!! I AM IN LOVE <3 Rune Naito was a fantastic artist <3 I love his work <3

  3. Ichiban…….i like the drawings on the walls ^^

  4. D3 & EGOSELF

    This is amazing! My favorites are the walls, the mirror and the Alice!