“Every spring, Japanese people (and maybe their cats) celebrate the budding cherry blossoms with picnics, food and plenty of saké. These special gatherings are called hanami, which literally means ‘flower viewing’. The title caption of this print is read Hanyami, which combines the word hanami with nyan, the Japanese word for ‘meow’. Yay cat puns! The larger caption refers to the falling blossoms of a thousand cherry trees, and of course the yummy mochi sticks prepared especially for flower viewing.
Jed Henry grew up in rural Indiana and “fell in love with video games”, most of which had their origins in Japan. “I escaped into the world of heroes, competition, and fun that Japanese gaming offered. Later, I served an LDS mission in the Tokyo area, where I fell in love with Japan and the Japanese people. Then, while a student at Brigham Young University, I had the opportunity to study Japan’s culture and history alongside my major field of animation. I began to wonder if there was a way to bring all the places, people, and characters I loved into one medium.
For hundreds of years, Japanese woodblock printmakers worked in a thriving popular art scene. Their prints depicted heroes, villains and monsters, spanning every genre from satire, to romance, to horror. This heritage is especially evident in Japan’s video game industry, a new chapter in an ancient, enduring culture. To celebrate Japan’s contribution to video games, Jed took his favorite game characters and returned them to the ukiyo-e woodblock-print style. He lives in Provo, Utah with his family.