Born in Tokyo in 1969, Yamaguchi Akira has established a reputation as an innovative artist who offers fresh and sometimes startling views of familiar figures and landscapes, or cityscapes. He combines precise almost mechanical modern detail with the birds-eye perspective of traditional Japanese painting. His works have been exhibited in museums as well as used on CD and book jacket designs in Japan.
The cover for this book, adapted by designer Dan Niver, features a detail from a larger watercolor painting of 2004, titled "Department Store: New Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi." In its playful appropriation or insertion of details from the Tokugawa shogun's capital of Edo (now of course Tokyo) into a contemporary rendition of the Mitsukoshi department store at the center of Tokyo (also evoking prewar Tokyo), the cover suggests one theme of the book: the way past practices, from the imperial institution to ideals of military valor, are reformulated or reinvented at various later "present" moments in modern history.
The full painting is reproduced in a book titled Yamaguchi Akira, published by the University of Tokyo Press in 2004 (page 57).
Some of Yamaguchi's works (including this painting) can be viewed online at http://mizuma-art.co.jp/artist/0250/index_e.php