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Children's Song
Kodomo no kuni and It's Artist
The Children of Kodomo no kuni
Introduction

Kodomo no kuni was one of the leading journals for children featuring artwork, founded and published by Kyutaro Takami in 23 volumes and 287 issues from January1922 to March 1944.
Cover January 1922. Takei Takeo
The magazine included pictures, stories, children's songs, dances, plays, and articles on handicrafts for young children. It was published in a format and content pioneering a totally new genre of artistic children's magazines.
     
(from left to right) Cover January 1925. Honda Shotaro / Cover April 1927. Takei Takeo
Cover November 1927. Okamoto Kiichi / Cover August 1928. Okamoto Kiichi
The 260 x 185 mm format was somewhat larger than the conventional journal. A heavy matte paper was used, both to enhance the feeling of intimacy for young readers and to sustain repeated turning of the pages.
The effect of color printing on this paper turned out to be outstanding, and eventually provided a vehicle much in demand for numerous talented artists whose creativity was devoted to children.
It was the time of the free spirit of "Taisho democracy," when educators were advocating a child-centered system of education stressing the natural personality and individuality of children.

Editorial advisor Kurahashi Sozo, a leading authority on children's education, strongly believed in the role of art in the pursuit of the ideal way of life. He called on artists to produce varied yet genuinely artistic forms of expression for children. The editorial staff included poets Kitahara Hakushu and Noguchi Ujo as advisors on children's songs, composer Nakayama Shinpei as advisor on musical compositions, Wada Koko as editor-in-chief, and Okamoto Kiichi as chief art editor.

The artists regularly attended editorial meetings of the journal. 0They were encouraged to view children straightforwardly, ask what they were thinking, and to urge young readers to find themselves in the pictures. In the first phase of the journal's publication, from 1922 to 1932, more than one hundred artists contributed, a quarter of whom were women.

The leading artists were Okamoto Kiichi, Takei Takeo, Shimizu Yoshio, Kawakami Shiro, Hatsuyama Shigeru, and Honda Shotaro, all already highly reputed in children's magazines for their work. Tokyosha also brought in the already established artists Takehisa Yumeji and Hosokibara Seiki to join them.
 
A Baby's Expression
May 1931 Extra issue. Okamoto Kiichi
The Chimney Sweeps
August 1923.Takei Takeo
 
The Log Swing
April 1928. Kawakami Shiro
Baby Teeth
September 1927. Hatsuyama Shigeru
 
Dipping for Fish
August 1929. Honda Shotaro
Ring Around the Mountain
December 1922. Takehisa Yumeji
Matsuyama Fumio, Ito Takashi, Fukazawa Shozo, Fukuda Shinsei, Onchi Koshiro, Higashiyama Shinkichi, Yasui Koyata, and Koga Harue were among the newcomer artists introduced by their established colleagues.
 
Night Station
April 1932. Matsuyama Fumio
The Akebi Flower
November 1928. Onchi Koshiro
 
Elevated Railroad
January 1932. Yasui Koyata
An April Stroll
April 1932. Koga Harue
Already at the turn of the nineteenth century, the universal appeal of their images and styles made picture book artists like Walter Crane, Ernst Kreidolf, Boutet de Monvel, and Elsa Beskow internationally popular.
 
Illustration from "Baby's Bouqet"
1878. Walter Crane
Illustration from "NOS ENFANTS PAR ANATOLE FRANCE"
1886. M Boutet de Monvel
   
Illustration from "Pelles nya Kläder"
1912. Elsa Beskov
 
Besides the so-called fin-de-siecle styles shown in various graphic arts journals such as Yellow Book (London), Jugend (Munich), and Ver Sacrum (Vienna), had embarked in Japan.

On the other hand, the trend in Western art towards Modernism in theory and form was extending its influence over Japanese artists under the constant influx of information about Fauvism, Cubism, Suprematism, Futurism, etc. The artists of Kodomo no kuni were no exception.

Kurahashi Sozo was extremely fond of the way Ludwig Richter of Germany and Karl Larsson of Sweden captured the lives of children, and must have exercised considerable influence in editorial direction of Kodomo no kuni.
 
Illustration from "ABC-Buch für kleine und grosse Kinder"
1845. Ludwig Richter
"The Apple Orchard" From the SPAD-ARVET, MITT LANTBRUK
1905. Carl Larsson
The 1920s was an era of urbanization and technological revolution. The role of art in society was also transformed with the growing importance of such genres as architecture and commercial art. However, Kodomo no kuni maintained its devotion to the nourishment of the minds and hearts of children in the newly modernized Japan. The pages of Kodomo no kuni brought to children pictures not only illustrating poetry and stories but also vividly recording the colorful daily life and fantasies of childhood.