Part of the beauty of Japanese culture is the integration of the modern with the traditional. Bullet trains, robotics, and some of the most cutting-edge technology being developed in the world exist alongside feudal architecture and age-old customs. Even inside the brightly buzzing cities, there’s an underlying sense of tranquility in Japanese lifestyle and aesthetic.
That cultural dichotomy is perfectly captured in Toyoi Yuuta’s lovely 8-bit GIFs, which depict everyday life in Japan. Published under his pseudonym 1041uuu, Toyoi’s subtle, artful animations play out the routines of life on an endless loop: a woman beneath an awning waters her plants; gentle rain falls onto a flickering cityscape; a pastel train pulls into the station. In my personal favorite, a man sits inside of a late-night noodle shop with his head on the counter while steam rises, lights buzz, and the cook’s iphone screen lights up in the corner. It’s like a modern day, Japanese, pixel art version of Nighthawks.
A professional illustrator who specializes in animation videos, Toyoi created the GIFs using the touchpad on his PC laptop. He says that most of his work depicts life in Tokyo or in nearby towns.
While the charming 8-bit aesthetic will no doubt evoke nostalgia in anyone who grew up playing video games in the ’80s and ’90s, the medium also works in perfectly depicting the complexity of the city with just a few blocks of color and subtle animation. The GIFs capture the gentler, more prosaic side of Japanese culture.