Love cutout boards? Not as much as this man does.

Every once in a while you hear about a person who has managed to turn eccentricity into an art form, and you find yourself forced to admire their approach to life. Tomoyuki Shioya is such a person.

By day he works at a corporate job. By night and at weekends he roams Japan searching for cutout boards to stick his face through.

face in hole, photo cutout board, cutout boards, obsession, kaohame
We don’t speak Japanese, but Google translations or Mr Shioya’s comments make his face in hole board obsession all the more interesting.

What turns his photos to gold is the same deadpan expression he adopts in each and every photo. He does this for a reason: “A lot of people will take photos for a keepsake, but I believe the main character here is the cutout board, not the person. That’s why I try not to stand out,” Shioya said about his emotionless face. He explained that he is “just filling an empty space” on the board. “As a way to show respect to these boards, I also don’t drink alcohol before I take photos.”

shioya20, photo cutout board, cutout board, obsession, cutout boards, kaohame
A cricked neck is a small price to pay for a new cutout board photo.

Shioya loves finding cutout boards in unlikely places and says he enjoys the thrill of “finding hidden treasure”.

Shioya cuts an almost heroic figure in humanity’s endless search for meaning, standing out against the absurdity of modern existence by doing something equally absurd but in which he seems to find inner peace. It’s his way. And we applaud him for it.

A man of such serenity and singleness of purpose leaves us feeling speechless and inadequate. We’ll therefore let him describe his hobby in his own words:

“My collection will never be complete” because comic panels are erected or removed without notice, he said. “Some are set up for a limited period. Sometimes they are gone in a day or two.” []

“Such occasions gave me a chance to meet people, and I thoroughly enjoyed conversing with them. Then I came to feel the desire to have more such wonderful experiences, and as a result I grew more serious about searching for humorous cut-out signs.”

“Cutout boards never cease to exist. I want to continue putting my face in holes until I die.” He then added, “As a matter of fact, I want my coffin to be a cutout too.” []

photo cutout board, peep board, cutout boards, kaohame

The Japanese word for cutout board is ‘kaohame’ which means ‘insert face’.

Who uses our face in hole boards?

Maybe you’re wondering where our face in hole boards are used and who uses them. Here are just a few examples of boards we’ve made for our wide and varied customer base.

We made a nautical skulduggery-themed, three-hole board for River Dart Country Park. Talking like a pirate is obligatory when you have your face through this one. It’s easy: shut one eye and growl about random seafaring terms in a comedy West Country accent. We are also planning to make a series of themed boards for International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

face in hole board, photo cutout board, standee board, pirates
Arrrrr! Scupper me timbers and shiver me mainbrace. Pirates run riot at River Dart Country Park

Norwich City Football Club use our face in hole boards at their training events to put young players in the boots of grown-up City players. Once they’ve put their face in the hole and had their photo taken the young lads are destined for stardom.

face in hole board Norwich City
Norwich City Football Club use our boards for their training events.

The World Animal Protection charity used our face in hole boards for two of their campaigns. Here’s the one for their Full Fact Milk campaign. Somehow the faces seem to fit the animals!

face in hole board, peep board, charity events, fundraising
World Animal Protection used a board on their charity roadshow.

… and here’s the one they used for their Sea Change campaign to highlight the dangers of discarding used fishing gear in the sea.

ghost fishing, sea change, charity fundraising, campaign, face in hole board
We made this board for World Animal Protection to highlight the dangers of Ghost Fishing – what happens when fishing tackle is discarded and floats around the oceans.

A face in hole board appeared recently at the Badminton Horse Trials.

face in hole board, Badminton Horse Trials
A Photocutouts board at the Badminton Horse Trials.

Are you planning an event, charity fundraising drive, fun day, or similar occasion? What kind of picture would you like on your face in hole board? We can design and print pretty much anything, and work with  you to make it perfect for your event. Get in touch with Shelley on 08450 570321 or email to see how we can help make your event special!


Peep boards, photo boards … what to call them?

The boards are back in town! Photo cutouts, or face-in-the-hole boards, are back in fashion and creating a marketing storm for our clients such as Autoglass, Chepstow Racecourse, The Sun and many others. But we have a problem…

What do you call the boards you put your face in?

Just look at all the different names we have come across for boards that you poke your face through to have your photo taken. Click on the camera image to make it bigger.

peep board, face-in-the-hole board, character board, photo op board, standee board
People just can’t decide what to call them!

Peep boards, photo cutout boards (of course), Aunt Sally boards, peep through boards, character boards, photo boards, standee boards, face-in-the-hole boards, fat lady on the beach boards … how come there are so many different names for the same thing?

Some people call them Aunt Sally boards because of the traditional English pub and fairground game of throwing sticks and other items at a model bust of ‘Aunt Sally’, a generic character used for venting spleen upon. Why everybody hated her isn’t clear. Fortunately, this tradition has largely died out, though versions are still played in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire and Warwickshire. The most famous use in mainstream television was Una Stubb’s Aunt Sally character in Worzel Gummidge. 

Peep boards? Famed diarist Samuel Pepys wrote of one of these boards after happening upon one at a fairground. They then became known as ‘Pepys’ boards’.

All right, we made that one up.

Standee or character boards are actually not quite the ones you put your face through, but we have seen them referred to by this name. Standee/character boards are what are commonly known as ‘cardboard cutouts’ or ‘lifesize cutouts’, like the one Justin Beiber made his fans pay $2,000 to ‘meet’ backstage. They are used to promote films, but do not usually have a hole. People generally stand next to them to have their photo taken.

Face-in-the-hole boards? Theories abound as to the origin of this name, but we feel it’s likely to be connected to the fact that you put your face in the hole.

Fat lady on the beach boards? Well of course that one comes from the art of Donald McGill, whose name is synonymous with the saucy seaside postcards we all know and love, like this one that got McGill into a bit of trouble with the law in 1954 when he was 80.

peep boards, photo boards, donald mcgill
Oo-err missus!