• Top
  •  > Japanese Authors of Children's Literature: A Special-Feature Section of Outstanding Authors

Japanese Authors of Children's Literature: A Special-Feature Section of Outstanding Authors

Writers and Illustrators

Portrait of Kenji Miyazawa

Kenji Miyazawa

1896-1933 List of books

Kenji Miyazawa was born and remained living in the present-day Hanamaki City, Iwate Prefecture, till the end of his day. In Kenji’s time, Iwate was beset by earthquakes and tsunami and also suffered from cyclical poor harvest due to severe weather. He studied agricultural chemistry at the Morioka Agriculture and Forestry College(present Iwate University), a school founded to strengthen the prefecture’s agriculture, and afterwards became a teacher at an agricultural high school.

He had been writing tanka (classical Japanese poems) and poems since Morioka junior high school, and began writing dowa (children’s stories) around 1918, when he was in college.

In 1920, Kenji joined Kokuchukai, a religious group headed by Chigaku Tanaka. In January of the following year, he went to Tokyo without his family’s permission to propagate, and a large number of dowa were written during this period. In August of that same year, he returned to Iwate after hearing that his sister Toshi had fallen ill, bringing with him a large suitcase full of the dowa manuscripts he wrote. In 1924, he published Haru to Shura [Spring and Asura] and Chumon no oi ryoriten [The restaurant of many orders].

“No matter how little we possess of the rock sugar of our desire, we can always taste the beautiful transparency of the wind and drink in the glorious peach-colored morning sunlight. Among the fields and groves, I have often seen awful tattered kimonos change into the most beautiful velvet or woolen cloth adorned with jewels.” –Preface of Kenji’s short story collection Chumon no oi ryoriten [The restaurant of many orders].

This collection of dowa is entitled “Ihatov dowa (Children stories of Ihatov).” When the book was published, it was printed in the flyers that “Ihatov is the name of a place,” and “Actually, it is Japan’s Iwate Prefecture as a dreamland which does exist (in this way) in the author’s imagination.” In reality, Iwate in those times was far from a dreamland. Even so, Kenji overlaid “Japan’s Iwate Prefecture” as the dreamland “Ihatov.”

Kenji Miyazawa’s works were written by his imagination power, which transformed “Japan’s Iwate Prefecture” to “Ihatov” and “awful tattered kimonos” to the “most beautiful” kimono, providing great joy and giving hints about how we should be as a human being.

Thumbnail of Haru to Shura: Shinsho suketchi [Spring and Asura: Poems of Kenji Miyazawa]

Haru to Shura: Shinsho suketchi [Spring and Asura: Poems of Kenji Miyazawa] will open in a new window
Open the enlarged image of Haru to Shura: Shinsho suketchi [Spring and Asura: Poems of Kenji Miyazawa]

C-4-1Haru to Shura: Shinsho suketchi [Spring and Asura: Sketch of mind]
Written by Kenji Miyazawa
The Museum of Japanese Modern Literature 1972
(Kindai bungakukan: Meicho fukkoku zenshu. Seisen [Museum of modern literature: Reprinted complete works of masterpieces, fine selection] 20)
Call No. KH6-58 (First ed. 522-198)
This is the first and the only poem collection by Kenji Miyazawa, self-published during his lifetime. The poet Shinpei Kusano read this book and was greatly impressed and he invited Miyazawa to become a member of the poetry magazine Dora [Gong]. This is a reprinted edition by Sekine Shoten in 1924. The image is the book's outer box and the title page.

Thumbnail of Kaze no Matasaburo [Matasaburo the wind imp]

Open the enlarged image of Kaze no Matasaburo [Matasaburo the wind imp]

C-4-2Kaze no Matasaburo [Matasaburo the wind imp]
Written by Kenji Miyazawa/Illustrated by Ryuichi Oana
HOLP SHUPPAN, Publishing 1971
(Nihon jido bungakukan: Meicho fukkoku [Japanese children’s literature: Reprint of masterpieces] 29)
Call No. KH6-23
This is a reprint edition published by Haneda Shoten in 1939. Besides the title story, it also contains Kai no hi [Gem fire], Ari to kinoko [The ant and the mushroom], Serohiki no Goshu [Gauche the cellist], Yamanashi [Wild pear] and Opperu to zo [Ozbel and the elephant]. Joji Tsubota wrote the postface "To those persons who have read this book" at the end of the book. The image is the cover and the title page of the book.

Thumbnail of Gusuko Budori no denki: dowa [The life of Gusuko Budori: children's stories]

Gusuko Budori no denki: dowa [The life of Gusuko Budori: children's stories] will open in a new window
Open the enlarged image of Gusuko Budori no denki: dowa [The life of Gusuko Budori: children's stories]

C-4-3Gusuko Budori no denki: dowa [The life of Gusuko Budori: children's stories]
Written by Kenji Miyazawa
HOLP SHUPPAN, Publishing 1974
(Nihon jido bungakukan: Meicho fukkoku [Japanese children’s literature: Reprint of masterpieces] Second series, 30)
Call No. KH6-23 (First ed. 児935-23)
This is a reprint of a dowa (children’s story) collection published by Haneda Shoten in 1941. In addition to the title story, it also includes seven other stories including Chumon no ooi ryoriten [The restaurant of many orders]. Kozo Yokoi, who designed and illustrated the book, wrote the postface.

Thumbnail of Ginga tetsudo no yoru [Night of the milky way railway]

Open the enlarged image of Ginga tetsudo no yoru [Night of the milky way railway]

C-4-4Ginga tetsudo no yoru [Night of the milky way railway]
Written by Kenji Miyazawa/Illustrated by Hitone Noma
Shinchosha 1941
(Nihon dowa meisaku senshu [Selection of the best Japanese children's stories])
Call No. 児935-42
This is a dowa (children's story) collection of six stories. The postface was written by Joji Tsubota. The title story is Kenji's dowa masterpiece. It is said that his feelings toward his deceased young sister, Toshi, underlie this story of traveling the galaxy, a place in a different dimension.

Thumbnail of Donguri to yamaneko [Wildcat and the acorns]

Donguri to yamaneko [Wildcat and the acorns] will open in a new window
Open the enlarged image of Donguri to yamaneko [Wildcat and the acorns]

C-4-5Donguri to yamaneko [Wildcat and the acorns]
Written by Kenji Miyazawa/Illustrated by Sho Nakao
Chuokoron-Sha 1949
(Tomodachi bunko [Friend library] 1)
Call No. 児93-M-3
Ichiro, who received a postcard from the wildcat, concludes the acorn's court case. In this book, dialects are annotated to make it easier to read. Naive illustrations by Sho Nakao are used throughout all six stories included in this book.

Thumbnail of Kairo dancho [A group leader Kairo]

Open the enlarged image of Kairo dancho [A group leader Kairo]

C-4-6Kairo dancho [A group leader Kairo]
Written by Kenji Miyazawa/Illustrated by Hitone Noma
Sakurai-Shoten Publishers 1947
(Shonen no tameno junbungakusen [Selection of pure literature for children])
Call No. Y7-4548
The title story is about tree frogs who have drunk whiskey, and forced to work for the group leader Kairo the pond frog. Book design is by Katsuzo Satomi. This volume also includes six other stories.

C-4-7Nijurokuya [Twenty-six nights]
Written by Kenji Miyazawa/Illustrated by Yoshiro Sato
Nihon Shoin 1948
Call No. 児乙部48-M-66
This work was published as Miyazawa Kenji dobutsu dowashu [Kenji Miyazawa's children's stories of animals] 2. The title story is about a group of owls, gathering at night to listen to a sermon, from the 24th to the 26th of June (in the old calendar). The editor of this book is Miyazawa's real younger brother, Seiroku Miyazawa. It contains five children's stories.

Thumbnail of Futago no hoshi [The twin stars]

Open the enlarged image of Futago no hoshi [The twin stars]

C-4-8Futago no hoshi [The twin stars]
Written by Kenji Miyazawa/Illustrated by Shiro Kawakami
Dai-nihon Yubenkai Kodansha 1948
(Miyazawa Kenji dowa senshu [Selection from Kenji Miyazawa's children's stories] vol. 1)
Call No. Y7-4552
Kotaro Takamura and Miyazawa's younger brother Seiroku cooperated to select the works and the styles of writing for the stories in this book.

Thumbnail of Ihatovo monogatari [The stories of Ihatovo]

Ihatovo monogatari [The stories of Ihatovo] will open in a new window
Open the enlarged image of Ihatovo monogatari [The stories of Ihatovo]

C-4-9Ihatovo monogatari [The stories of Ihatovo]
Written by Kenji Miyazawa/Illustrated by Toshiko Akamatsu
Oyama Shoten 1948
(Fukuro bunko [Owl library] 9)
Call No. 児93-M-1
This collection comprises the following eight stories: Yodaka no hoshi [The nighthawk star], Ki no ii kazandan [The light-hearted volcanic bomb], Hatake no heri [The edge of the field], Manazuru to dariya [The dahlias and the crane], Kashiwabayashi no yoru [The night of the oakwood], Kairo dancho [A group leader Kairo], Saru no koshikake [Chestnut tree and monkey chairs] and Kai no hi [Gem fire]. The illustrations that Toshiko Akamatsu prepared for each of the stories are full of impact.

Thumbnail of Kaze no Matasaburo [Matasaburo the wind imp]

Open the enlarged image of Kaze no Matasaburo [Matasaburo the wind imp]

C-4-10Kaze no Matasaburo [Matasaburo the wind imp]
Written by Kenji Miyazawa/Illustrated by Chuya Takahashi
Akane Shobo 1950
(Sekai ebunko [The world picture library] 2)
Call No. 児913.8-M674ka
The postface says that "the story was made full of pictures and dialects were revised so as to make it easier for children to understand." Naive illustrations throughout the book are drawn by Chuya Takahashi, an artist who maintained close relations with Kenji Miyazawa.

Thumbnail of Serohiki no Goshu: Gendai nihon dowa [Gauche the cellist: Contemporary Japanese children's stories]

Open the enlarged image of Serohiki no Goshu: Gendai nihon dowa [Gauche the cellist: Contemporary Japanese children's stories]

C-4-11Serohiki no Goshu: Gendai nihon dowa [Gauche the cellist: Contemporary Japanese children's stories]
Written by Kenji Miyazawa/Illustrated by Fumiko Hori
Kodansha 1954
(Sekai meisaku dowa zenshu [Complete works of the world's best children's stories] 50)
Call No. 児913.8-M674sd
This is a collection of five stories, selected from all three volumes of the Miyazawa Kenji dowa senshu [Selection from Kenji Miyazawa's children's stories].

Thumbnail of Kaze no Matasaburo [Matasaburo the wind imp]

Open the enlarged image of Kaze no Matasaburo [Matasaburo the wind imp]

C-4-12Kaze no Matasaburo [Matasaburo the wind imp]
Written by Kenji Miyazawa/Illustrated by Sho Nakao
Kawade Shobo 1955
(Robin bukkusu [Robin books] 1)
Call No. 児913.8-M674k
This is a dowa (children's story) collection of three stories. The title story Kaze no Matasaburo [Matasaburo the wind imp], is a tale in which "daily life" and "wonders" overlap. It can be said that this story most reflects Kenji's imagination.

Thumbnail of Miyazawa Kenji zenshu [The complete works of Kenji Miyazawa] vol. 6

Open the enlarged image of Miyazawa Kenji zenshu [The complete works of Kenji Miyazawa] vol. 6

C-4-13Miyazawa Kenji zenshu [The complete works of Kenji Miyazawa] vol. 6
Written by Kenji Miyazawa
Chikuma Shobo 1956
Call No. 918.6-M674m3-t
Eleven volume set. Edited by Shinpei Kusano, Kotaro Takamura and Seiroku Miyazawa. This is the first full-scale collection published after Miyazawa's death, which was made by developing several collections. During his lifetime, Kenji often visited the Imperial Library (the present International Library of Children's Literature) when he came to Tokyo. It is said that the image of the Imperial Library's reading room (now the ‘Museum’) is reflected in the story "Toshokan genso [Fantasies in the library]".

Thumbnail of Teihon Miyazawa Kenji [The authoritative edition of Kenji Miyazawa]

Open the enlarged image of Teihon Miyazawa Kenji [The authoritative edition of Kenji Miyazawa]

C-4-14Teihon Miyazawa Kenji [The authoritative edition of Kenji Miyazawa]
Written by Minoru Nakamura
Shichiyosha 1962
Call No. 910.28-M674Nm2
This book includes commentaries about the author Kenji Miyazawa. The book was woven based on commentaries on Miyazawa Kenji [Kenji Miyazawa] (published by Eureka Shinsho in 1955) and Miyazawa Kenji note [The note of Kenji Miyazawa] which was serialized in the magazine Yuriika [Eureka] in 1958.

Thumbnail of Miyazawa Kenji Meisakushu [The best collection of Kenji Miyazawa]

Open the enlarged image of Miyazawa Kenji Meisakushu [The best collection of Kenji Miyazawa]

C-4-15Miyazawa Kenji Meisakushu [The best collection of Kenji Miyazawa]
Written by Kenji Miyazawa/Illustrated by Teruyo Endo
Kaisei-sha 1963
(Shonen shojo gendai nihon bungaku zenshu [The collection of contemporary Japanese literature for boys and girls] 16)
Call No. 児909-Sy9572-[16]
This is the sixteenth volume of the collection, created as a supplementary reader for Japanese language textbooks. It includes famous literary works written from the Meiji era (1868-1912) according to the author. It contains eighteen works, including poems. Edited by Michio Namekawa and others.

Thumbnail of Miyazawa Kenji dowa zenshu, 1  (Hana to tori no dowashu) [Complete works of Kenji Miyazawa's children's stories, vol.1 (Children's stories of flowers and birds)]

Open the enlarged image of Miyazawa Kenji dowa zenshu, 1  (Hana to tori no dowashu) [Complete works of Kenji Miyazawa's children's stories, vol.1 (Children's stories of flowers and birds)]

C-4-16Miyazawa Kenji dowa zenshu, 1 (Hana to tori no dowashu) [Complete works of Kenji Miyazawa's children's stories, vol.1 (Children's stories of flowers and birds)]
Written by Kenji Miyazawa/Illustrated by Makoto Sakurai
Iwasaki Shoten 1964
Call No. Y7-15
This is a seven-volume dowa (children's stories) collection set published for children. Sixty-seven dowa are classified by subject. The first volume includes sixteen stories such as the story about stars and works of dowa which Kenji listed as Kacho dowa shu [Collection of children's stories about flowers and birds]. Edited by Seiroku Miyazawa and Seishi Horio.

Thumbnail of Kodomo to bungaku [Children and literature]

Open the enlarged image of Kodomo to bungaku [Children and literature]

C-4-17Kodomo to bungaku [Children and literature]
Written by Momoko Ishii and others
Fukuinkan Shoten 1967
Call No. 909-I583k-h (First ed. 909-I583k)
Co-authored by Momoko Ishii, Tomiko Inui, Shinichi Suzuki, Teiji Seta, Tadashi Matsui and Shigeo Watanabe. The first edition was published by Chuokoron-Sha in 1960. In their chapter on Kenji Miyazawa, he is described as a children's writer who was “setting the truth within the real identity of imagination."

Thumbnail of Miyazawa Kenji no kanata e, shinzohokaiteiban [Beyond Kenji Miyazawa, the new revised and enlarged edition]

Open the enlarged image of Miyazawa Kenji no kanata e, shinzohokaiteiban [Beyond Kenji Miyazawa, the new revised and enlarged edition]

C-4-18Miyazawa Kenji no kanata e, shinzohokaiteiban [Beyond Kenji Miyazawa, the new revised and enlarged edition]
Written by Taijiro Amazawa
Shichosha 1987
Call No. KG567-118 (First ed. 910.28-M674Am、増補改訂版 KG567-35)
This book is a new binding of a "revised and enlarged edition" published in 1977, which revised and enlarged the first edition (series of critiques that was serialized in the magazine Kyoku [Depressing district]) published in 1968, based upon Kohon Miyazawa Kenji zenshu [Variorum complete works of Kenji Miyazawa]. Upon this new binding, Miyazawa Kenji ron sobyo [Description of Kenji Miyazawa's theories] (first published in 1963) was added.

Thumbnail of Shinpan Miyazawa Kenji dowa zenshu. 1 (Tsue nezumi) [The new and complete works of Kenji Miyazawa's children's stories, vol.1, (Tsue the mouse)]

Open the enlarged image of Shinpan Miyazawa Kenji dowa zenshu. 1 (Tsue nezumi) [The new and complete works of Kenji Miyazawa's children's stories, vol.1, (Tsue the mouse)]

C-4-19Shinpan Miyazawa Kenji dowa zenshu. 1 (Tsue nezumi) [The new and complete works of Kenji Miyazawa's children's stories, vol.1, (Tsue the mouse)]
Iwasaki Shoten 1978
Call No. Y7-6743
This is the first volume of the twelve-volume set. Seventy-nine dowa (children's stories) are included through volume eleven, while volume twelve contains works such as tanka (Japanese short poems), poems and letters. Compared to earlier editions, this book offers easier access by the heavy use of illustrations, and including a variety of dowa in each volume.

C-4-20Kaze no Matasaburo: Kenji ni ichiban chikai kaze [Matasaburo the wind imp: The wind closest to Kenji]
Written by Hiroshi Masumura/Original story by Kenji Miyazawa
Asahi Sonorama 1983
Call No. Y16-6626
This work was created by a comic artist who drew many cats. Words and scenic depictions faithfully reflect the original work. Supervised by Taijiro Amazawa.

C-4-21Ginga tetsudo no yoru: Kenji ni ichiban chikai hikari [Night on the milky way train: The light closest to Kenji]
Written by Hiroshi Masumura/Original story by Kenji Miyazawa
Asahi Sonorama 1983
Call No. Y16-6642
The majority of the characters are cats in this work. Supervised by Taijiro Amazawa. An animated film based on this comic was released in 1985.

Thumbnail of Shin kohon Miyazawa Kenji zenshu, daihachikan (dowa 1), honbunhen/kouihen [The new complete variorum of Kenji Miyazawa, vol. 8 (children's stories 1), main text/comparison]

Open the enlarged image of Shin kohon Miyazawa Kenji zenshu, daihachikan (dowa 1), honbunhen/kouihen [The new complete variorum of Kenji Miyazawa, vol. 8 (children's stories 1), main text/comparison]

C-4-22Shin kohon Miyazawa Kenji zenshu, daihachikan (dowa 1), honbunhen/kouihen [The new complete variorum of Kenji Miyazawa, vol. 8 (children's stories 1), main text/comparison]
Written by Kenji Miyazawa/Compiled by Seiroku Miyazawa and others
Chikuma Shobo 1995
Call No. KH361-E15
This is a complete work recording the transition of original manuscripts. The older versions (fourteen volumes) published between 1973 and 1977 were reviewed, and the main text and the comparison were published separately. Sixteen volume set.

Thumbnail of Yamanashi [Wild pear]

Open the enlarged image of Yamanashi [Wild pear]

C-4-23Yamanashi [Wild pear]
Written by Kenji Miyazawa/Illustrated by Kazuo Kawakami
MIKI HOUSE 2006
(Miki house no ehon [Picture books of Miki house])
Call No. Y17-N07-H507
Kazuo Kawakami's illustrations carefully express the words of Kenji, with the soft and delicate use of blue as the predominant color. Processes of life seen in "the magic lantern slides" and "the bottom of a little valley brook" are illustrated in this picture book full of poetic sentiment.

Thumbnail of Yamanashi [Wild pear]

Open the enlarged image of Yamanashi [Wild pear]

C-4-24Yamanashi [Wild pear]
Written by Kenji Miyazawa/Illustrated by Hojiro Hayashi
Penguin-Sha 1985
Call No. Y18-2361
This picture book is drawn by multi-color wooden engravings. Its rich color and dynamism expresses the beauty and the intensity of the nature that the two small crab brothers experience at the bottom of the river, which draws the readers into the world of Kenji.

Thumbnail of Yamanashi [Wild pear]

Open the enlarged image of Yamanashi [Wild pear]

C-4-25Yamanashi [Wild pear]
Written by Kenji Miyazawa/Illustrated by Shigeki Suezaki
CHILD HONSHA 1999
(Chairudo ehonkan, Nihon no meisaku/Nishimoto Keisuke sekinin henshu [Child picture book museum, Japanese masterpieces/editor-in-chief Keisuke Nishimoto] 7)
Call No. Y17-M99-1186
The world of the bottom of the river is depicted with transparent illustrations in a quiet tone. The scenes of "the kingfisher" and "the wild pear" are effectively inserted in the work. This is a picture book like watching a magic lantern show made up of two parts.

Thumbnail of Serohiki no Goshu [Gauche the cellist]

Open the enlarged image of Serohiki no Goshu [Gauche the cellist]

C-4-26Serohiki no Goshu [Gauche the cellist]
Written by Kenji Miyazawa/Illustrated by Kunio Sato
Fukutake Shoten 1992
Call No. Y18-6579
The illustrator was praised for expressing the world of Kenji in woodcut engravings besides working as a carpenter. The distinctive thick lines of woodcut engravings are simple and strong. When the pictures were originally printed, the images came out inverted and the character appeared left-handed. However, it was left as it is, because Gauche in French means left-handed.

Thumbnail of Serohiki no Goshu [Gauche the cellist]

Open the enlarged image of Serohiki no Goshu [Gauche the cellist]

C-4-27Serohiki no Goshu [Gauche the cellist]
Written by Kenji Miyazawa/Illustrated by Osamu Tsukasa
Fuzambo 1986
Call No. Y18-1837
This is a monochrome picture book with delicate illustrations drawn on a scratch board. The sharp unique lines of the engraving arouse the well-honed sound of a cello. In this work, the artist overlaps himself with Gauche.

Thumbnail of Serohiki no Goshu [Gauche the cellist]

Open the enlarged image of Serohiki no Goshu [Gauche the cellist]

C-4-28Serohiki no Goshu [Gauche the cellist]
Original story by Kenji Miyazawa/Supervised by Taijiro Amazawa/Translated by Roger Pulvers/Illustrated by Osamu Tsukasa
Labo Kyouiku Center 1998
(Sounds in kiddyland ; series 27)
Call No. Y17-M99-1098
The book design is colorful, drawn using primary colors in oil paint on a pink background. The animals are exaggerated by a freewheeling touch. This picture book was made for English language education.

Thumbnail of Serohiki no Goshu: Gahon Miyazawa Kenji [Gauche the cellist: Picture book of Kenji Miyazawa]

Open the enlarged image of Serohiki no Goshu: Gahon Miyazawa Kenji [Gauche the cellist: Picture book of Kenji Miyazawa]

C-4-29Serohiki no Goshu: Gahon Miyazawa Kenji [Gauche the cellist: Picture book of Kenji Miyazawa]
Written by Kenji Miyazawa/Illustrated by Toshiya Kobayashi
Parol-Sha 1989
Call No. Y18-4569
Toshiya Kobayashi is well-known as a picture book author who is conscious of printing techniques and bindings. The distinctive feature of the book is the scenes drawn from the perspective of Gauche. The image is the front cover and the book jacket.

Thumbnail of Serohiki no Goshu [Gauche the cellist]

Open the enlarged image of Serohiki no Goshu [Gauche the cellist]

C-4-30Serohiki no Goshu [Gauche the cellist]
Written by Kenji Miyazawa/Illustrated by Suekichi Akaba
Kaisei-Sha 1989
(Nihon no dowa meisakusen [The selection of best Japanese children's stories])
Call No. Y18-4392
The distinctive emblems and the pale water colors that encompass the pages, draw the readers into the world of Suekichi Akaba, who received the Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration in 1980.

Thumbnail of Gusuko Budori no denki [The life of Gusuko Budori]

Open the enlarged image of Gusuko Budori no denki [The life of Gusuko Budori]

C-4-31Gusuko Budori no denki [The life of Gusuko Budori]
Written by Kenji Miyazawa
Jido bungaku [Children's literature] vol.2, the reprinted edition
Alice Kan 1984
Call No. Z12-628
Kenji published this story during his lifetime in the second issue of the magazine Jido bungaku [Children's literature] in March of 1932. Illustrated by Shiko Munakata. The story is about the main character Budori, who lives a life of dedication and self-sacrifice towards others, which symbolizes Kenji's way of thinking. Jido bungaku was first published in July of 1931 by the poet Ichei Sato. It was devoted to pure and poetic dowa (children's stories), however, it discontinued after the second issue. Kenji also published Hokushu shogun to sannin kyoudai no isha [Northguard general Son Ba Yu and the three doctor brothers] in the first issue.