‘One of these things is not like the others’

Over on 2channel, Japan largest and Influential website, people have been all in tither about this bit of Japanese artistic pride below. I have to say, I was very impressed and intrigued by the comparison too.


one of these things is not like the others

On several different levels this is a magical Muppet moment of,
said-openOne of these things is not like the others*.said-closed
My first thought was–said-openWow, the Japanese were so avant-garde in the 1700s…the 18th Century.said-closed

Using Google Image search, I was able to find out the Japanese artist was Kawanabe Kyosaii (Wiki) and the name of the artwork is “Meikyo Yamatodamashii” (名 镜 倭 魂), 1874. (Click to view a larger sized view of the artwork.)
Huh? Wait a minute…1874 is not the 18th Century, it’s the 19th Century. What gives?

With little more digging on Google Image, I discovered that the above comparison of Western vs Japanese art of the so-called 18th Century, is an impassioned Japanese rebuttal to this popular Japan-is-so-weird humor post below that has been floating around as a Net meme since 2010…



What Japanese “netizens” were so incensed about was the unfair comparison of the famous caricature by Kabukido Enkyo of a kabuki actor (circa 1796), which was intensionally drawn as goofy as a cartoon of Uncle Sam.

Perhaps they were too angry to remember that the 18th Century runs from January 1, 1701 to December 31, 1800, and this unfortunately draws away from showing how advanced Kawanabe Kyosaii‘s work was for 1874.

Learn more about the sources of 18th Century Western art shown above and about the great Kawanabe Kyosaii my Comments section.

Published by


I'm a pale, alien, quadruped who has worked for 25+ years at "Maybe-the-Largest Inc." in Tokyo.

One thought on “‘One of these things is not like the others’”

  1. Japanese-vs-Western-art-annotated

    The identities of the four examples of 18th Century art, which are the seeming boring compared to the “modern” dynamism of Kawanabe Kyosaii, are as follows:

    1) “Italy” is Pompeo Batoni’s “Achilles at the Court of Lycomedes,” 1745

    2) “England” is John Hooper’s “Lady Caroline Capel holding her Daughter Harriet,” 1793

    3)“Russia” is Ivan Firsov’s “Young painter,” 1760s

    4) “Spain” is Francisco de Goya’s “Picnic on the banks of the Manzanares,” 1776

    As you can see, Goya’s work is the only one of the four Western artists who could match the modern-looking exuberance of Kawanabe Kyosaii.


    Kawanabe vs Goya
    Kawanabe Kyosaii’s depiction of Hell (1870s)
    Goya’s ‘Saturn Devouring One of His Sons’ (1823)

    Check out more examples of Kawanabe Kyosaii’s work here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>