FUKUOKA--A special exhibition at a museum here is offering visitors an opportunity to take a fresh look at old artworks with the help of the buzzword "yurukawa," derived from "yurui" (loose) and "kawaii" (cute).

The Yurukawa Japanese Art exhibition at Fukuoka City Museum in the city's Sawara Ward features about 20 pieces of art, including woodblock prints and hand-painted drawings created in the ukiyo-e style by Utagawa Hiroshige and other artists between the Edo Period (1603-1867) and Meiji Era (1868-1912).

"Yurukawa" is used to describe things that are laid-back and cute, particularly for women’s clothing and popular characters. The exhibition suggests that the aesthetic sense of the term is deep-rooted and unique to Japanese art.

“Choju Ryakuga Shiki” (birds and animals in abbreviated style) features colorfully illustrated rabbits, deer and other animals drawn with simple and roundish lines. It is a classic example of laid-back aesthetics filled with elements of "caricatured cuteness," such as small eyes and pale colors.

It is said that the artist drew the animals with quick brush strokes as his friend read out their names.

“Jinbutsu Ryakuga Shiki” (figures in abbreviated style) shows kimono-clad women engaged in such activities as playing with a cat and reading a book while lying on the floor. Also filled with casual charms, some women are covering their mouths with their hands while chatting.

Other works are somewhat heartwarming. One illustration features Raijin, the god of thunder, hastening to pick up his thunder-producing drum after accidentally dropping it into the ocean. In another, a monkey is seen making desperate efforts to reach for a shining moon.

Another piece has an element of the absurd, showing a stray cat with a fish in its mouth being chased by a samurai, running toward a half-finished statue of Buddha for no apparent reason.

Perhaps the most striking example of yurukawa is an illustration of legendary swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, who is dressed in a loosely fitting garment standing idle with two wooden swords in his hands. Still, the lines for his garment and the coloring of the swords are done with careful brushwork.

"Yurukawa can be described as a state of sophistication and is unique to Japanese art," senior curator Takeshi Sueyoshi said. "We'd like visitors to think outside the box and enjoy (the works) in their own way."

The exhibition runs until May 6.

Visit the museum’s official website at (http://museum.city.fukuoka.jp/en/).