All About Japan

Mario and Luigi Get a Makeover

Art Ukiyo-e Gaming

Mario and Luigi caused a buzz in 2015 when they appeared on a couple of traditional Japanese folding screens, posing in the same powerful stance as Fujin and Raijin, the Japanese gods of wind and thunder.

They’re making another appearance in godlike form, but this time they’ll be immortalized in a ukiyo-e woodblock print and available to the public for purchase thanks to a Kyoto-based artist specializing in traditional art technique.

The art is based on a national treasure dating back to the 17th century, Fujin-Raijin-zu by Tawaraya Sotatsu, showing Raijin on the left and Fujin on the right.

In the new woodblock print, Luigi takes on the role of Fujin, one of the eldest Shinto gods, who is traditionally portrayed as a red-haired demon with green skin. Luigi keeps his shoes on for the role and looks a lot less terrifying than the original, while carrying a large bag of wind on his shoulders. Well-known villains Lakitu and Bullet Bill also make an appearance in the background.

Mario, as the god of lightning, thunder and storms, holds a drumstick in each hand and is surrounded by a ring of stars instead of the usual drums Raijin strikes to create thunder.

While the images are beautiful and humorous, there’s actually a skilled craftsman behind the project, using centuries-old printing techniques to create the final image, which is limited to a run of 90 prints in total. The end result is a beautiful framed picture priced at ¥194,400 (US$1,734.40). Instead of using traditional Japanese paper known as washi, a layer of gold leaf is used, making this one expensive yet beautiful piece of art.

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