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

Writers and Illustrators

Portrait of Mimei Ogawa
Courtesy of Mimei Ogawa Literature Museum

Mimei Ogawa

1882-1961 List of books

Mimei Ogawa began writing novels while studying at Waseda University. After graduation, he was involved in editing the magazine Shonen bunko [Children's library] and began writing children’s stories. In 1907, he published his first collection of short stories, Shujin [Bundle of sorrow] with Ryubunkan and his first collection of dowa (children’s stories), Akai fune [Red boat], in 1910 from Kyobundo. Mimei was a neo-romantic novelist, but also moved toward socialism over time. After the announcement of Kongo wo dowa sakka ni [Mimei’s intention to dedicate himself to writing children’s stories] in 1926, Mimei ended his career as a novelist and decided to devote himself on dowa. He published about 1,200 dowa in his lifetime.

Mimei Ogawa was heavily criticized in the 1950s. After the long period of war, writers of children’s literature had tried to explore what and how they should write for children in the midst of new post-war realities through critical examinations of Mimei’s works. Dying people, withering plants and destroyed towns ― Mimei’s themes for dowa were considered negative and not appropriate for children’s literature. His words were also criticized as being incantation-like and difficult to understand. Thus, from around 1960, Japanese children’s literature shifted from the modern dowa style represented by Mimei to contemporary children’s literature.

However, in the 1980s, the importance of avoided issues such as death, started to be recognized and began to be addressed in contemporary works. Some critics said Mimei’s dowa was “undifferentiated children’s literature,” which meant that it was not a children’s literature clearly delineated from adult literature. Also, many works published after the 1990s don’t have a clear line between “children’s literature” and “literature.” This could be said to be a reinstatement of Mimei’s thinking; even fifty years after his death, his works continue to shed light upon literature for children.

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C-2-1Rodonna neko [The dull cat]
Written by Mimei Ogawa
Yumani Shobo 2000
(Hennentai Taisho bungaku zenshu. Daiikkan (Taisho gannen)[The collection of literature in the Taisho era written in chronological form (1912)] vol. 1)
Call No. KH6-G504 (First ed. 特106-259)
This is the only full-length novel written by Mimei Ogawa and was serialized in the Yomiuri Shimbun [Yomiuri newspaper] from April 24 to June 5, 1912. It was later included in the collection Rodonna neko [The dull cat], which was published by Shunyodo in September 1912.

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C-2-2Kin no wa [The golden circle]
Written by Mimei Ogawa/Formatted by Shintaro Hiroshima
HOLP SHUPPAN, Publishing
(Nihon jido bungakukan: Meicho fukkoku [Japanese children's literature: Reprinted masterpieces] vol. 2, no. 11)
Call No. KH6-23
Reprint of the 1919 edition from Nanbokusha. This is Mimei’s third collection of dowa (children's stories), after Akai fune [Red boat] and Hoshi no sekai yori [From the world of the stars]. The title story “Kin no wa [The golden circle]” is said to be a requiem for the author's eldest son, who died young.

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C-2-3Mimei hirakana dowa dokuhon [Mimei's hiragana reader of children's stories]
Written by Mimei Ogawa/Formatted by Shigeru Hatsuyama/Illustrated by Yoshisuke Kurosaki
Bunkyo Shoin 1936
Call No. Y8-N00-650
This is a dowa (children’s stories) collection of twenty stories for pupils from kindergarten to the third grade. It was published at the same time as Mimei katakana dowa dokuhon [Mimei's katakana reader of children's stories]. Books of children’s stories printed using only hiragana and katakana were popular at the time. The title page and slipcase are shown in the image.

Thumbnail of Yoru no shingu 	rappa [Th trumpet of th night advance]

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C-2-4Yoru no shingun rappa [The trumpet of the night advance]
Written by Mimei Ogawa
Kodansha 1977
(Teihon Ogawa Mimei dowa zenshu [The authoritative edition of the complete works of Mimei Ogawa’s children's stories] 12)
Call No. Y7-5730
This story was originally included in Yoru no shingun rappa [The trumpet of the night advance], a dowa (children's stories) collection published by ARS in 1940. The majority of stories in this collection are set not on the battlefield but on the home front and depict people helping each other. Stories of this nature were generally considered to express a pro-war attitude.

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C-2-5Nemui machi [The sleepy town]
Written by Mimei Ogawa/Illustrated by Chiaki Horikoshi
Kakusha 2006
Call No. Y17-N07-H575
In May 1914, this work was published by Jitsugyo no Nihon Sha in Nihon shonen [Japanese children]. The story is critical of the industrialization of civilization.

Thumbnail of Akai rosoku t 	ningyo [The re candle and th mermaid]

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C-2-6Akai rosoku to ningyo [The red candle and the mermaid]
Written by Mimei OgawaI/Illustrated by Chihiro Iwasaki
DOSHINSHA PUBLISHING 1975
(Wakai hito no ehon [Picture book for the youth])
Call No. Y7-4719
This work had first appeared in the evening edition of the Tokyo Asahi Shimbun [Tokyo Asahi Newspaper] from February 16th to 20th, 1921. This work was left unfinished by the death of the illustrator, Chihiro Iwasaki. The title page is shown in the image.

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C-2-7Akai rosoku to ningyo [The red candle and the mermaid]
Written by Mimei Ogawa/Illustrated by Komako Sakai
Kaiseisha 2002
Call No. Y8-N02-245
This work was serialized in a newspaper during 1921, and in that same year, was published by Tenyusha in Mimei's fourth collection of dowa (children's stories), Akai rosoku to ningyo [The red candle and the mermaid]. Komako Sakai turned this work into a picture book, drawn vividly in red and black.

Thumbnail of Nihon jid bungakukan meicho fukkoku dainishu 3, shone bunko, ichi n 	maki [Japanes children' literature Reprinte masterpieces second series, par three, Children’ library, volum one]

Open the enlarged image of <i>Nihon jid bungakukan meicho fukkoku dainishu 3, shone bunko, ichi n 	maki</i> [Japanes children' literature Reprinte masterpieces second series, par three, Children’ library, volum one]

C-2-8Nihon jido bungakukan: meicho fukkoku, dainishu 3, shonen bunko, ichi no maki [Japanese children's literature: Reprinted masterpieces, second series, part three, Children’s library, volume one]
Edited by Hogetsu Shimamura
HOLP SHUPPAN, Publishing 1974
Call No. KH6-23
This is a reprint of the 1906 edition published by Kaneobunendo. Mimei took part in the editing of the magazine Shonen bunko [Children’s library] under the direction of Hogetsu Shimamura at Waseda Bungakusha. He also wrote dowa (children’s stories) and doyo (children’s songs), such as “Kaitei no miyako” [The city at the bottom of the sea] for this magazine.

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C-2-9Ushionna [The cow woman]
Written by Mimei Ogawa/Illustrated by Eiji Ikeda
Otogi no sekai fukkokuban [Reprinted edition of The world of fairy tales] vol.1, no.2
Iwasaki Shoten 1984
Call No. Z32-B102
Mimei was responsible for a magazine of dowa (children's stories) known as Otogi no sekai [The world of fairy tales] which carried numerous stories, including his own masterpiece “Ushionna [The cow woman].”

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C-2-10Umi to taiyo [The sea and the sun]
Written by Mimei Ogawa/Illustrated by Shigeru Hatsuyama
Otogi no sekai fukkokuban [Reprinted edition of The world of fairy tales] vol.1, no.3
Iwasaki Shoten 1984
Call No. Z32-B102
Mimei published many doyo (children's songs) not just in Otogi no sekai [The world of fairy tales], which he was responsible for publishing, but in Akai tori [Red bird]. In the song “Umi to taiyo [The sea and the sun],” he depicts a mythical world, thereby exploring a completely different direction from his dowa (children’s stories).

Thumbnail of <i>Tsukiyo to megane</i>[The moonlight an glasses]

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C-2-11Tsukiyo to megane [The moonlight and glasses]
Written by Mimei Ogawa/Illustrated by Yoshio Shimizu
Akai tori fukuseiban [Reprint of Red bird] vol.9, no.1
Nihon Kindai Bungakukan 1968
Call No. Z13-889
This story depicts a visit by an optician and a butterfly girl to the home of an elderly woman living quietly on her own. The publication of the magazine Akai tori [Red bird] enabled Mimei to expand the scope of his activities as a writer of dowa (children's stories).

Thumbnail of <i>Yuki kuru mae n 	kogen no hanashi</i>[The story of th plateau befor snow falls]

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C-2-12Yuki kuru mae no kogen no hanashi [The story of the plateau before snow falls]
Written by Mimei Ogawa/Illustrated by Shiro Kawakami
Dowa [Children's stories] vol. 7, no.1
Kodomo-Sha 1926
Call No. Z32-B311
Yuki kuru mae no kogen no hanashi [The story of the plateau before snow falls]” is a masterwork of a dowa (children’s story) that was written shortly after Mimei declared "Dowa sakka sengen" (his intent to write children’s stories). He was also eager to publish his works in a children's magazine called Dowa [Children's stories].

Thumbnail of <i>Nandem 	hairimasu</i>[Anything can fi inside]

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C-2-13Nandemo hairimasu [Anything can fit inside]
Written by Mimei Ogawa/Illustrated by Shiro Kawakami
Kodomo no kuni [Children's land] vol. 11, no.1
Tokyosha 1932
Call No. Z32-B158
This is a story about a boy called Sho-chan, who has a pocket big enough to fit anything inside. This is a well-known dowa (children’s story) for young children, which was written by Mimei after he became a core member of the Federation of Free Artists in 1929.

Thumbnail of <i>Tanoshii chotachi</i>[The happy butterflies]

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C-2-14Tanoshii chotachi [The happy butterflies]
Written by Mimei Ogawa/Illustrated by Shiro Kawakami
Kodomo no kuni [Children's land] vol. 13, no.4
Tokyosha 1934
Call No. Z32-B158
This story is about three butterflies (elder sister, younger brother, and younger sister) that meet at their home and decide to go search for their mother, yet end up falling asleep. Mimei was responsible for supervising the dowa (children's stories) that appeared in this magazine.

Thumbnail of <i>Atarashiki jid 	bungaku no michi</i>[The new ways o children' literature]

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C-2-15Atarashiki jido bungaku no michi [The new ways of children's literature]
Written by Mimei Ogawa
Futaba Shoin Seikokan 1942
Call No. 909-O24ウ
This is an anthology of selected lectures and literary commentary based on the militaristic ideology of wartime Japan. The book was designed by Shigeru Hatsuyama.

Thumbnail of <i>Gendai jid bungakuron 	Kindai dowa hihan</i>[Discourse o contemporar children' literature Criticism of th modern children' stories]

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C-2-16Gendai jido bungakuron: Kindai dowa hihan [Discourse on contemporary children's literature: Criticism of the modern children's stories]
Written by Taruhi Furuta
Kuroshio Shuppan 1959
Call No. 909-H862g
This is a modern literary theory of children’s literature from an author who made the statement “Shonen bungaku no hata no moto ni [Under the flag of children's literature]” in 1953, suggesting that writers of contemporary children’s stories needed to avoid outdated forms of children's literature. The writer criticizes earlier writers of children's stories, including Mimei Ogawa, for writing primitive stories that promote the concept of the continuity of life in their stories. The image is the book's outer box and the introduction of Sayonara Mimei [Goodbye Mimei].

Thumbnail of Kodomo t 	bungaku [Childre and literature]

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C-2-17Kodomo to bungaku [Children and literature]
Written by Momoko Ishii and others
Fukuinkan Shoten 1967
Call No. 909-I583k-h(First ed. 909-I583k)
The first edition of this work was published by Chuokoron-Sha in 1960. It is a summary of critical essays about Japanese children's literature written by Momoko Ishii, Tomiko Inui, Shinichi Suzuki, Teiji Seta, Tadashi Matsui and Shigeo Watanabe. While recognizing Mimei’s talent as a writer of dowa (children's stories), his works are criticized as not being written for children.

Thumbnail of Mimei dowa no honshitsu: "Akai rosoku to ningyo" no kenkyu [The essence of Mimei's dowa: Research of "The red candle and the mermaid"]

Open the enlarged image of Mimei dowa no honshitsu: "Akai rosoku to ningyo" no kenkyu [The essence of Mimei's dowa: Research of "The red candle and the mermaid"]

C-2-18Mimei dowa no honshitsu: "Akai rosoku to ningyo" no kenkyu [The essence of Mimei's dowa: Research of "The red candle and the mermaid"]
Written by Shoichiro Kami
Keiso Shobo 1966
Call No. 913.8-O272Km
This study uses folkloric, socioeconomic, and philosophical approaches in investigating the background of “Akai rosoku to ningyo [The red candle and the mermaid].” It also examines the model for the mermaid. The title page is shown in the image.

Thumbnail of Chichi Ogawa Mimei [My fathe Mimei Ogawa]

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C-2-19Chichi Ogawa Mimei [My father Mimei Ogawa]
Written by Suzue Okanoe
Shinhyoron Publishing Inc. 2002
(Shinhyoron selection ; 29)
Call No. KG583-H31(First ed. KG583-6)
The first edition of this work was published in 1970 and is a collection of reminiscences of Mimei Ogawa, written after his death by his second daughter. It describes Mimei as he appeared through the eyes of a family member.

Thumbnail of Senji jido bungak ron: Ogawa Mimei Hamada Kosuke Tsubota Joji n 	sotte [Discourse o children' literature i wartime: Alon with Mime Ogawa, Kosuk Hamada, Joj Tsubota]

Open the enlarged image of <i>Senji jido bungak ron: Ogawa Mimei Hamada Kosuke Tsubota Joji n 	sotte</i> [Discourse o children' literature i wartime: Alon with Mime Ogawa, Kosuk Hamada, Joj Tsubota]

C-2-20Senji jido bungakuron: Ogawa Mimei, Hamada Kosuke, Tsubota Joji ni sotte [Discourse on children's literature in wartime: Along with Mimei Ogawa, Kosuke Hamada, and Joji Tsubota]
Written by Hisashi Yamanaka
Otsuki Shoten 2010
Call No. KG411-J31
This work discusses pro-war children's literature in wartime Japan, focusing on the works of Mimei Ogawa, Hirosuke Hamada, and Joji Tsubota, together with a large volume of other material collected by the author.

Thumbnail of Kongo wo dow 	sakka ni [Mimei’ intention t dedicate himself t writing children’ stories]

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C-2-21Kongo wo dowa sakka ni [Mimei’s intention to dedicate himself to writing children’s stories]
Tokyo Nichi-Nichi Shimbun [Tokyo daily newspaper] May 13, 1926
Tokyo Nichi-Nichi Shimbun Publishing Office (Osaka Mainichi Newspapers, Tokyo Branch)
Call No. Z81-6
Although Mimei was both a novelist and a writer of dowa (children's stories) early in his career, this document announces his intention to dedicate himself to writing dowa. This is Memei’s declaration of his intent to write dowa.