Top Page

1889 - 1983

Kawakami was born in a village called Kamigumi, Niigata prefecture in 1889. In 1908, he entered Tokyo Art School and studied Western-style painting under Fujishima Takeji. After graduating in 1913, he abandoned his plan to go on to graduate school and took a job teaching art at Haibara middle school in Shizuoka prefecture. At the time, he was also teaching at the Jikka Girls' School. In 1915, he retired from teaching and joined Kodomo Sha, the publisher of magazines like Kodomo [Child] and Ryoyu [Good Friends]. From 1920 to 1926, he was put in charge of designing the cover, frontispiece, and most of the illustrations for Dowa [Children's Tales], a magazine edited by Chiba Shozo. He was also responsible for the critique and selection of art works contributed by subscribers. Kawakami contributed to many other journals as well: Kodomo no kuni [Children's Land], Shonen kurabu [Boy's Club], Shojo kurabu [Girl's Club], and Kin no fune [The Golden Ship]. He illustrated collections such as Nihon dowa senshu [Collected Japanese Stories] and the second volume of Mimei dowa shu[Children's Stories by Ogawa Mimei]. He was the illustrator for Tote Basha [Trumpet Coach] (Chiba Shozo, Kokonshoin, 1929), Doyo gashu [Picture Album of Children's Songs] (Kodansha, 1937), and others. In 1927, he participated in the launching of the Nihon Dogaka Kyokai (Japan Association of Illustrators for Children). Beginning around 1933, Kawakami became interested in Buddhist chanting (nenbutsu), and was particularly drawn to the poet-priest Ryokan. He wrote Ryokan-sama [Reverend Ryokan] (Shogakukan, 1955) and illustrated Ryokan-sa [Dear Ryokan] (Rironsha, 1975) by Komiyama Ryohei.