Chihiro Iwasaki

While in Nagano last year I was lucky enough to visit the Chihiro Art Museum in Azumino which houses the artwork of Chihiro Iwasaki, one of Japan’s most loved artists. (There is also one in Tokyo.)

Chihiro created water-colour paintings of children, flowers and nature throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Her method of painting was unusual as it combined traditional Japanese ink drawings with European watercolour. She aimed to capture the personalities of children.

I picked up a book of her illustrations at the museum and it’s filled with some of her lovely quotes. She said of her paintings in 1963, “Children get muddy and dirty when they play. Shouldn’t I depict them that way in order to make them look more like real children? Instead, a dreamlike sweetness always seems to pervade my illustrations. But no matter how dirty children get, or how ragged their clothes are, I can’t help seeing them as beautiful children whose minds are filled with dreams.”

A Japanese friend told me that Chihiro drew the children’s features until they were only 60% complete, so that the viewer could fill in the remaining portion in their mind, and the faces would appear to resemble children they knew.

During the Vietnam War, Chihiro drew children playing happily to illustrate her hope that they would grow up in a world free of war, and the Chihiro Art Museums promote peace and happiness. The museums feature galleries of her work, a library of thousands of picture books, a huge park and a shop where you can buy prints, postcards and books of her work. I think I bought 17 postcards when I was there. Randomly, you can also buy her postcards online at this Austrian website.


  1. Posted December 7, 2009 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

    Oh, wow, thanks a lot for this post. As a child I loved my Momoko books illustrated by Chihiro Iwasaki… Her way is unique!

  2. Posted December 7, 2009 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Oh I never knew about this artist or her works before, thank you for introducing her!

  3. prettyprettyyumyum
    Posted December 9, 2009 at 3:39 am | Permalink

    kekstester, thanks for commenting ^_^ momoko is so cute! her illustrations are definitely one-of-a-kind!

    sara mari, you can see some more of her artwork on her website or if you are in japan you can stop into her art museum in tokyo or nagano! ^_^

  4. Caroline lefebvre
    Posted April 23, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    these are really amazing pieces of art work, please direct me to where i can find moe paintings like this, i need to view them for an art project.

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