A Closer Look at Golden Kamuy Exhibition Charmed with Over 120 Manuscripts, Replica, and More


*This is a translated article by QooApp under the permission of SPICE. Reproduction in any form without permission is prohibited.

Golden Kamuy, the popular manga series by Satoru Noda is having its first art exhibition from April 28 to June 26, 2022 at the Gallery AaMo located in Tokyo Dome City, featuring over 120 manuscripts, illustrations, models, replicas, and more.

As many may know, the story of Golden Kamuy takes place in the early twentieth century, where the Russo-Japanese War veteran Saichi “Immortal” Sugimoto scratches out a meager existence during the postwar gold rush on the wild frontier of Hokkaido.

It’s an adventure action drama featuring both an ex-soldier and an Ainu girl, and it is also the catch copy of the serialization in Weekly Young Jump. It is so excellent so I have to quote it: “Adventure, history, culture, hunting, gourmet, horror, GAG & LOVE!” I’ll admit, when I first saw it, I thought: “What the heck is that? It’s such a jumble of excitement from all genres, and you can’t predict what’s going to pop in the next scene!”

A Closer Look at Golden Kamuy Exhibition Charmed with Over 120 Manuscripts, Replica, and More
The entrance to the venue. ©野田サトル/集英社

With over 120 exhibits, this Golden Kamuy Exhibition features a large number of related materials from the series, including tools, uniforms, and other items that appeared in the manga. This large-scale exhibition primarily concentrates on the appeal of Golden Kamuy, which is highly acclaimed both in Japan and around the world.

The Golden Kamuy Exhibition kicks off on Thursday, April 28 which also happens to be the day that marks the eight-year anniversary since the manga came out. On the day before the exhibition opened, beyond the “do not enter” tape of the entrance, we went inside for the press preview of the exhibition, which was opened a little earlier for the media.

*Please be aware that this exhibition is composed of stories that were published in the original manga, which may include scenarios that have not been adapted into the anime, so depending on how much of the series you’ve exposed yourself to, this article might contain some spoilers.

Various Memories Gathered in One Place

Let’s start with the first zone of the Golden Kamuy Exhibition, titled “Opening of the Battle for the Gold Bullion”, shedding the spotlight on the main characters one by one. Just a few steps after you enter, you are immediately drawn by the unsparing presentation of the exhibition.

A Closer Look at Golden Kamuy Exhibition Charmed with Over 120 Manuscripts, Replica, and More
Exhibition photo. ©野田サトル/集英社

What really caught my eye is the trademark military cap of the main character, Saichi Sugimoto (he did not even take it off during that hot spring scene; so I assume by this point, it is now part of his face). Seeing the actual model makes one feel as if Sugimoto were a real soldier. Next to the exhibits are manga manuscripts of the scene where Sugimoto says his signature line: “I am Sugimoto the Immortal!”

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Exhibition photo. ©野田サトル/集英社

There are also other parts dedicated to different characters, which includes, of course, the Ainu girl Asirpa. It is definitely worth seeing, as there are many models and costumes for her character in the anime and other related materials on display. Decorative embroidery on the matampu and tecumpeh (hand armor) was also designed specially for each character in this Golden Kamuy Exhibition.

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Exhibition photo. ©野田サトル/集英社

Asirpa is a woman of a hundred faces, so she’s not like any heroine with many impressive funny faces. With each passing volume, her expressions in serious scenes as well as in gags become richer and richer. In particular, the expression of the lower eyelids becomes more and more delicate, and the expression of complex emotions including hesitation and melancholy is surprisingly expressive. Incidentally, the illustration on the upper left shows a memorable moment when the Ainu first ate “miso,” which is not part of their culture.

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A stuffed brown bear is on display in the hall of this Golden Kamuy Exhibition. Note the sharpness of its claws. The hunting skills of the Ainu people were amazing, as they were capable of killing such a thing with a poisoned arrow that they crafted themselves.

Enemies and Allies Alike

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Exhibition photo. ©野田サトル/集英社

A replica model of the Type 38 infantry gun used by Hyakunosuke Ogata, the lone sniper who appears in the latter parts of the series is proudly on display in the Golden Kamuy Exhibition. It is said to have a range of approximately 2,400 meters…so cool. The manga manuscripts also show scenes with his brother and a sniping confrontation with a Russian soldier. You can actually see the “eyeballs glinting and trailing a tail of light”, something that is often used in the series when the gun is in its “killing mode”, so be sure to take a good look at it when visiting!

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Exhibition photo. ©野田サトル/集英社

Now we’re in the zone introducing the characters of the 7th Division, where the uniforms of Lieutenant Tsurumi and Sergeant Tsukishima, are on display. It may be a little hard to see, but at the center of the photo is Second Lieutenant Koito’s saber, which was modeled after one of the characters in the series. You can almost hear the lively voices of the characters in this display, which gives it a realistic feel.

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Exhibition photo. ©野田サトル/集英社

The second zone, titled “24 Tattooed Prisoners,” continues in a similarly fast-paced fashion with an exhibit about the 24 tattooed prisoners that appear in the series. The entire exhibition space is inspired by the Abashiri Prison, and it is rather cute to look up and see panels of the three main characters hanging from the ceiling as they try to sneak in.

A Cultural Part That Knows Its Pressure Points

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Exhibition photo. ©野田サトル/集英社

Let us continue our tour of the Golden Kamuy Exhibition with the third zone, “Things That Connect Our Lives”. The exhibits in this area focus on the Ainu people and their culture, such as typical food, clothing, housing, and many others. I thought it would be more of an “educational” part, but the abundant materials and detailed explanations linked to the story made it a very interesting part for me personally.

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Exhibition photo. ©野田サトル/集英社

Inside the glass panels are models and materials that draw reference from the traditional folk tools in the series, such as glass ball trinkets, the “stu,” which is a stick used for sanctions, and the “kisarari,” used to scare children who have trouble sleeping. The explanatory panels provide in-depth information on the usage and history of each of these items, making it a pleasant experience to learn more about each of them.

Most of the materials on display are from the personal collection of the author, Satoru Noda. He says that even with this amount of materials, he has carefully selected them because it would be too much to display everything at hand. One can deeply feel that Golden Kamuy’s story is the result of very careful research and investigation to ensure that it stays true to history.

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Exhibition photo. ©野田サトル/集英社

Showcased in the picture above is “chitatapu”, a dish of raw meat and fish tataki that appears every time an animal is hunted during the course of the adventure. The project team’s love can be felt in the way they carefully recreated this dish using food samples. This one, in particular, uses pink salmon (Karafuto trout), and seeing it up this close brings a greater impact than you might imagine. In the foreground, you can also see a row of eyeballs, which are sucked as a snack. I’m sure that when the author tried these dishes for the first time during his research, he probably had an expression on his face that was very hard to describe.

Of course, this Golden Kamuy Exhibition not only shows Asirpa’s “Hokkaido Ainu,” culture, but also those of other Ainu tribes, such as the Sakhalin Ainu, the Uilta, and the Nivkh, are all introduced as well, without a single one being left behind. Of course, the Russian culture that appeared in the Sakhalin section is also introduced…and yes, it is a “thing”.

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Exhibition photo. ©野田サトル/集英社

Speaking of Russia, Banya (Russian steam bath) is not to be missed! It’s nice to see this illustration, stretched to the size of the entire wall to speak out about its existence in this Golden Kamuy Exhibition. It is a scene where the muscular soldiers who were in a war a while ago, but jumped into Banya in order to survive the cold. So you can understand why I laugh every time I see this photo. 

An Empowering Display, As Far as the Eye Can See

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Exhibition photo. ©野田サトル/集英社

Let us tally-ho now into the fourth zone of Golden Kamuy Exhibition, “To Each Their Own Role”. In this zone, visitors can relive the three battles in Abashiri, Karafuto, and Sapporo, all of which mark major parts of the story. All of the illustrations are also arranged in chronological order. In the center of the exhibit are the weapons that were used by Sugimoto, Hijikata, Lieutenant Tsurumi, and others who fought over at the gold rush, all of which served as actual references for the items you see in the series.

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Exhibition photo. ©野田サトル/集英社

In the Sakhalin story section, there is also an illustration showing the emotional scene where the two partners are reunited. The original impact of the large panel, which could not fit on a typical smartphone screen, is very heartwarming to see. A comment by the original author is attached next to the illustration, and it is very interesting to see the creative background of this scene, which was conceived by working in a backward direction from the punchline.

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Exhibition photo. ©野田サトル/集英社

This is a replica of Sugimoto’s Type 30 rifle. If you look closely, you can see the words “Type-30” engraved in the center of it.

Colored Illustrations You Can’t Take Your Eye Off From!

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Exhibition photo. ©野田サトル/集英社

This is the Golden Kamuy Exhibition’s fifth zone, “Golden Coloured Gallery”. More than 50 carefully selected color illustrations brightly decorate the walls of this eye-pleasing corner! Photography is allowed here, so you can take pictures with your favorite illustrations. I hope your phone (or camera) has lots of storage because you will be taking loads of pictures here!

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Exhibition photo. ©野田サトル/集英社

Asirpa’s blue eyes truly look even better in color. When I clicked the shutter to see the wonderful illustration on the cover of the second volume of the book, I was surprised to see a gravure of a first-class Tanigaki graduate in a loincloth next to it. I personally like the way the author inserted the soldiers’ muscles whenever they had a chance.

Right past this corner is the sixth zone of the Golden Kamuy Exhibition, “To the Future”. But this is where our tour will end for now, so if you want to see it, I recommend coming here yourself! Several illustrations drawn especially for this exhibition were also on display, and I left the venue with a very joyous feeling. In the words of the Ainu people, this is an exhibition that will make you say “hinna” (Ainu word to express gratitude) with all your heart.

If You Laugh You Lose! (LOL)

Well then! We are now at the official store located at the Golden Kamuy Exhibition, and this is where more than 90 original goods were created to commemorate the exhibition are on sale here. All of them are funny items related to the story and the character traits, and you can feel the love the production team has put into each and every item.

*The image showcases the final sample of the products

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A portion of the merchandise available in the store.  ©野田サトル/集英社
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An illustrated plate showing a very funny-looking Asirpa. (Available from the store for JPY$2,200)

During the exhibition, panels of animals from the northern lands that appear in Golden Kamuy will be hidden throughout Tokyo Dome City. After viewing the exhibition, I recommended walking around the area and hunting them yourself. I personally roamed around the area and managed to kill an Ezo-shika (deer).

Golden Kamuy Exhibition Details

Period: April 28 – June 26, 2022
Business hours: 11:00 – 20:00 (At 30 minutes before closing, you can’t enter it anymore)
Official website: https://goldenkamuy-ex.com
Inquiry Phone Line: Tokyo Dome City Wakuwaku Dial: 03-5800-9999
(Inquiry Line’s Business Hours: 10:00-17:00 on weekdays, weekends, and holidays)
Organizer: Golden Kamuy Exhibition Tokyo Executive Committee
Original story by Satoru Noda
Planning cooperation Weekly Young Jump Editorial Department
Planning and production Golden Kamuy Exhibition Production Committee
Supported by: Kyodo Printing, e-plus

The original article was written by Mika Kosugi and published by SPICE, which can be found here: https://spice.eplus.jp/articles/302216


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