The Chihiro Art Museum Tokyo (Japan)

(March 27, 2009)

by Michiko Matsukata, Assistant Curator

The Chihiro Art Museum Tokyo originally opened in 1977 as the Chihiro Iwasaki Art Museum of Picture Books. The museum stands on the site where Chihiro Iwasaki (1918-1974), an artist of children’s books, lived for 22 years. The museum was started with two ideals: “peace and happiness for children” and “the development of a culture of picture books.”

In 1997, commemorating the 20th anniversary of the museum’s opening, a second museum, the Chihiro Art Museum Azumino, was established in Matsukawa Village, Nagano Prefecture, where Chihiro’s parents once lived. The two museums hold a combined collection of about 9400 original illustrations by Chihiro, 17,000 illustrations created by 188 artists from 29 countries, and 1000 original works of art from the history of picture book illustration.

After the end of World War II, Chihiro moved, alone, from Nagano Prefecture to Tokyo. In her later years, she said, “My experience of war, which destroys the hopes of youth, had a great influence on determining my future course, I think. I truly love peace, abundance, beauty, and adorable things so I feel a limitless anger toward forces which would crush such things.” In 1951, she gave birth to her first child. Throughout her life, she opposed war and the taking of lives as she sustained a wish for peace.

Besides her life-long themes, including children, babies, flowers, and small animals, she also created works on war. In 1972, protesting the Vietnam War, she entered a painting titled “Children” in an exhibition.

The Chihiro Art Museum Tokyo holds lectures and classes on picture books, peace, and other themes, and organizes exhibitions and peace exchange programs in China, South Korea, and other Asian countries.

Address: 4-7-2, Shimo-Shakujii, Nerima Ward, Tokyo
Phone: +81-3-3995-0612
Homepage: http://www.chihiro.jp/
Days closed: Mondays (the museum is open on a Monday that falls on a national holiday, then is closed on Tuesday); New Year holidays; and the month of February
Admission: Free for high school students and below; 800 yen for adults (and discounts are available)

(Originally published on March 16, 2009)

Click on the photos below to enlarge the images.


Many of Chihiro’s works that wish for children’s happiness are based on her wartime experiences. Exhibits rotate every two months.

“Girl in Flames” adorns the cover of her last book titled “Children in the Flames of War.” (Chihiro Iwasaki, 1972)

“Children among Cyclamen Flowers” from the book “Children in the Flames of War” (Chihiro Iwasaki, 1972)

“Tulip and Baby” (Chihiro Iwasaki, 1971)

The exterior of the Chihiro Art Museum Tokyo

The exterior of the Chihiro Art Museum Azumino in Matsukawa Village, Nagano Prefecture