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(above top) The Time Traveler Umeyama’s Report: The Sacred Red and White, 2015, Sumi ink and gouache on oriental paper, 22 x 40 inches

(above below) Drawing of Labels of Umeyama’s Report: The Sacred Red and White, 2016, Graphite on paper, 19 X 24 inches

(Contents from the drawn labels)

Shoei Umeyama


Umeyama’s Report: Red and White, the Eternal Auspiciousness, c. 2015

Gouache and ink on oriental paper   


Courtesy of H.T. Stringer 

Since ancient times, the color combination of red and white is called Kouhaku (紅白)  and used at auspicious occasions. The origin and the meaning for this color combination have not been completely defined yet, though the generally-believed idea is that of birth/start (red) and death/end (white); the repetition of red and white represent a continuing family tree, a prayer for the well-being of family, and even for world peace.


In a Japanese cultural context, all colors from orange to red violet in the color wheel are considered to be “red”. According to this cultural background, Umeyama (mis)translated the orange and white color combination, which he sees all over town, into  Japanese Kouhaku (紅白) so familiar to him.


Umeyama assumed that the color choice for roadside construction barrels and cones reflect the people’s wish for safe and peacefulness for the construction workers who work cheek by jowl with danger and the vehicles which pass right next to them.


(Illustration of a color wheel in gray scale)

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