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    Traditional Japanese Art Meets Modernity in FUSO Calendar


Artist Fumiaki Muto leads FUSO lineup on whimsical journey though Japanese tradition.

For this year’s brand calendar, FUSO turned to artist, Fumiaki Muto to blend the past, present, and future with the traditional Japanese art, ukiyo-e. We believe the traditional artform is the perfect fit to visually convey the importance we place on taking insights from our predecessors and incorporating their knowledge and experience into our practices.

While commercial transportation may be an afterthought for most, it’s an integral part of everyday life. At FUSO we take pride in this by supporting those who move the world: businesses, distributors, and especially the drivers. We strongly believe in channeling our 90-year heritage as we move forward full of hope into the future.

Ukiyo-e, which translates to “pictures of the floating world,” is a genre of traditional Japanese art that depicted subjects from daily life and was prominent from the 17–19 centuries.

Muto utilized ukiyo-e’s charm to convey the kaleidoscope of influences the transportation industry has on our daily lives.

“There was a time when I dreamed of becoming a car designer, so I was truly delighted to work with FUSO,” the Gifu native said.

“But I entered a design company after graduation instead. However, I held solo exhibitions on the side with other works such as illustrations and Nihonga-style paintings because I loved drawing.  When entrusted with the design of a map, I started approaching it by adding elements of Ukiyo-e. The results excited me. You could say that was the inception of my current style.”

Since taking on the assignment, Muto became aware of just how ubiquitous trucks are.

“It made me realize how unaware I was of the amount of goods being transported. So, displaying this in the backdrop of our daily lives was my tribute to all of the drivers who make the transportation industry possible.”

RELATED TOPIC  Get a behind-the-scenes look at the 2022 and 2023 FUSO calendars here.

BRINGING THE PAST TO THE PRESENT  The task of contrasting the past and present in a natural-looking image that blended the two turned out to be a challenge for Muto.

“I always blend hand-drawn sketches with digital tools in my works,” he said. “This time, I sought to render the past in woodblock print style and add a watercolor touch to the present. I regard the result as an unusually captivating and new expression.”

Muto strives to incorporate what he considers to be the idiosyncratic way the Japanese perceive the natural world in ukiyo-e depictions.

“I think that this [approach] gives my work a fairly new angle and appeasing warmth.”

Muto channels a similar sentiment as FUSO by evoking the works of renowned artist Katsushika Hokusai (AD 1760-1849).

“Every time I reproduce [his] work, it makes me realize his greatness. There is so much we can still learn from our predecessors.”

THE CALENDAR  The result of Muto’s efforts depicts FUSO vehicles in hybrid scenes of modernity seamlessly blended with Edo-period Japan (1603–1867) in the finest traditions of ukiyo-e. The scenes have an unusually natural consistency given the artificial mix of elements.

Jan-Feb: Canter at Fishing Port

Mar-Apr: eCanter in the City

May-Jun: Rosa and Onsen (Hot Springs)

Jul-Aug: Fighter at Construction Site

Sep-Oct: Aero Queen in Tokyo

Nov-Dec: Super Great at Container Yard

Not only that, but the illustrations manage to capture the subtle seasonal ambiance of each month, through thoughtful attention to natural elements like the clouds and the delicate hues of the sky.

The end results present the viewer with a combination of a woodblock print, layered texture, and the gap between past and present exquisitely rendered.

Details like clouds and the haze part the present and past through the fusion of traditional Japanese painting techniques, and other Easter eggs, that make this calendar a delight to view as the depictions unfold before your eyes.

“We tend to inadvertently overlook commercial trucks and buses, but you’ll notice they are each unique and possess a distinctive charm,” Muto said. “I’d be honored if this calendar manages to make just one more FUSO fan like me.”

THE WIDER MESSAGE  The transportation industry plays a key role in our day-to-day lives and the wider progress of society. That will remain unchanged while adapting to the times. Goods must be moved and delivered, and people must be transported.

Our aim is through continuous innovation and technological advances, to be the ideal partner for those in the transportation industry. FUSO, building the future together with you.