I haven’t had a good pillow fight in a long time but these posters, created as key visuals for Japan’s National Pillow Fight Contest, are making me want to invite some friends over for a sleepover and start swinging. They feature Olympic gymnast Airi Hatakeyama in a series of poses the represent the pillars of pillow fighting: throw, dodge and defend.
The posters were produced by the organizing committee of Japan’s National Pillow Fighting Contest, which originated in 2013 in the small city of Itō on central Japan’s Izu Peninsula.
Japanese pillow fighting differs from that of the west in that pillows are thrown, instead of swung. In fact, the Japanese word for pillow fight is makuranage, which literally means pillow throwing. And historically they’ve been fought during overnight school field trips, which is why the standard uniforms are yukata robes that are worn at ryokan. You can get a sense for how the battle plays out in the video below, which was produced in tandem with the posters in 2019.
The fonts used in each of the kanji are also quite beautiful in that they communicate movement and action by emphasizing the stroke order.