Cover illustration for The Crane Wife (Fukuinkan Shoten Publishers)

Suekich Akaba1979 - 1979

Chihiro Art Museum

Chihiro Art Museum
Tokyo, Japan

Suekichi Akaba started energetically creating picture books at the age of 50, and during the subsequent 30 years until his death in 1990, he published over 80 picture books. In 1980, he became the first Japanese recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest honor for writers and illustrators of children’s books, thus contributing to raising the profile of Japanese picture books. The approximately 6,900 pieces that comprise the whole of Akaba’s artwork are held in the Chihiro Art Museum collection.
The Crane Wife is a Japanese folktale that takes place in a snow-covered farming village. For Akaba, who spent 15 years in the northeastern part of China (former Manchuria), the moist Japanese climate that he saw anew upon his return to his homeland proved inspiring. In accordance with his theory that a picture book represents a stage, Akaba would thoroughly read the original text for story he would illustrate, and then visually “produce” the narrative. In this picture book, the artist used a different kind of traditional Japanese paper for each scene to convey the snow-covered landscape as well as the dimly lit interior of the humble farmhouse, and lyrically depicted the pity and beauty of the self-sacrificing crane-daughter.


  • Title: Cover illustration for The Crane Wife (Fukuinkan Shoten Publishers)
  • Creator: Suekich Akaba
  • Date: 1979 - 1979
  • 画家名 (日本語): 赤羽末吉
  • 作品説明 (Japanese): 赤羽末吉は、50歳のときから精力的に絵本の制作に取り組み、1990年に亡くなるまでの30年間に80冊を越す絵本を発表した。1980年には子どもの本の最高の国際賞であるアンデルセン賞画家賞を日本人として初めて受賞し、日本の絵本の評価を高める功績も果たしている。ちひろ美術館には赤羽の全遺作約6900点が収蔵されている。 『つるにょうぼう』は、雪国の農村を舞台にした民話である。15年間を中国東北部(旧満州)で過ごした経験を持つ赤羽にとって、帰国後に改めて見た湿潤な日本の風土は大いに魅力的だった。「絵本は舞台だ」という持論をもとに、赤羽は一作ごとに原作を読み込んで、物語を視覚的に演出した。この絵本では、場面ごとに和紙を使い分けて、しっとりとした雪景色や貧しい農家の薄暗い家屋を表し、そこに献身的な鶴の娘のあわれさ、美しさを叙情的に描き出している。
  • 作品名 (日本語): 『つるにょうぼう』(福音館書店)表紙
  • creator: Japan
  • Physical Dimensions: w550 x h341 mm (complete)
  • Type: painting
  • Rights: Copyright © 2013 Chihiro Iwasaki Memorial Foundation. All rights reserved.

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