The World of Animal Painter Masayuki Yabuuchi


I went to the event “The World of Animal Painter Masayuki Yabuuchi" in Komoro City, Nagano Prefecture. This is a photo of the flyer of the event.

Masayuki Yabuuchi (1940-2000) is an animal painter who worked for Fukuinkan Shoten as an illustrator of picture books and illustrated books, and later became a freelance artist. In addition to picture books and illustrated books, he also created illustrations for books and advertisements.

First, I will enter the Municipal Komoro Library.
I heard that a mini exhibition of his original drawings is being held in the volunteer room of the library from January 10 to 18, so I checked there first.

It was a small room, so there were only about 10 works, but carefully drawn pictures of animals and birds were exhibited.
There was also an original drawing of an albatross for a postage stamp that was released in 1975. I learned that he also painted original drawings for postage stamps. 

Going up the stairs, I entered the lecture hall.

His works are displayed on the entire back wall of the hall and part of the side wall. The original drawings of the picture book “Mothers of animals" are lined up. (There were other works as well.)
I bought the picture book at the exhibition hall. I liked the picture of a hedgehog.

Now, the lecture started.

The title of the lecture was “What one likes, one will do well", and the lecturer was Mr. Ryuta Yabuuchi. He is the eldest son of Masayuki Yabuuchi.

The lecture began with a story about Masayuki’s boyhood.
He was an animal lover and would go to the zoo and stare at only one type of animal all day long. If he decided to see a lion today, he watched only lions all day long.
His mood became completely lion-like, and he walked in the room on all fours when he got home.

He loved reading a book on animals that was bought for him when he was in elementary school. Then he began sending letters to the author, Haruo Takahashi. He drew pictures of animals to accompany his letters. Later, he also began correspondence with zoologist Yoshinori Imaizumi.

Mr. Imaizumi wanted to make a zoological illustrated book, but he couldn’t find a company willing to publish it. After several years, Fukuinkan Shoten undertook the publication and decided to find an artist to work exclusively with him. Imaizumi recommended Masayuki Yabuuchi (then a senior in high school) as the artist.

After graduating from high school, Masayuki became an employee of Fukuinkan Shoten.  But he had not received any specialized training in painting,  so he spent a year for sketching animals at the Ueno Science Museum. Through this experience, his drawing ability improved rapidly.

After that, He started to draw pictures for an illustrated book, but unfortunately, due to internal company circumstances, the book was no longer published. (Later, the project was realized as “Cetaceans and Pinnipeds" and “Illustrated Guide to World Mammals," volumes 1 and 2, by another publisher.)

In 1965, he made his picture book debut with “Beaks" and continued to illustrate picture books, storybooks, illustrated books and dictionaries, and advertisements.

In advertising, he was in charge of illustrations for Suntory’s newspaper advertisement “Suntory Bird Love Campaign" from 1973. His drawings are still used on Suntory’s website.

Suntory’s Bird-Loving Activities (written in Japanese)

Ryuta Yabuuchi, the lecturer, was a businessman, but upon his father’s death (2000), he retired and started working toward establishing an art museum. He became a qualified curator and opened the “Masayuki Yabuuchi Museum of Art" in 2004, where he serves as the director.

Masayuki Yabuuchi Museum of Art Official Website (written in Japanese)

This museum, located in Hokuto City, Yamanashi Prefecture, is closed during the winter. It will open at the end of March, so I would like to visit in spring or summer when the weather is pleasant.


Posted by Sakyo K.