Mizuki Shigeru

(Japan 1922 – 2015)

Collected work of Mizuki Shigeru

Not on display
Further information

Mizuki Shigeru was a writer, artist and historian. On his return to Japan following the Second World War, Mizuki reflected on the paranormal yōkai stories of his childhood and began to research and draw them. His yōkai manga GeGeGe no Kitarō (Spooky Kitarō) featuring the boy Kitarō together with a cast of supernatural characters reinvigorated a tradition that had been essentially banned since the late 19th century. Mizuki’s inventions owe a considerable debt to the 18th century artist Toriyama Sekien whose published compendia of the supernatural established the physical forms associated with beings who were otherwise amorphous dwellers in the invisible world. Mizuki also references other well-known artists including Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861) and Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) and was, in turn, a significant influence on the work of contemporary artist Takashi Murakami.

This chirimen-bon (crêpe-paper book) 'Collected Work of Mizuki Shigeru' features a selection of Mizuki’s yōkai illustrations which have been woodblock printed and subjected to the chirimen process prior to binding. Chirimen is a process of crinkling paper after it has been printed. Several moistened sheets of paper are rolled into cylinders, placed on one of their small ends and compressed from above. The pages are then unrolled, rotated and rerolled with the whole process repeated numerous times to create cloth-soft crêpe paper. The time-consuming nature of chirimen means that it is rarely used anymore.

Chirimen books were invented around 1885 when Hasegawa Takejiro, a businessman who turned to the import, publishing and selling of textbooks for learning foreign languages, launched a series of English translations of popular Japanese folktales. Well-known Japanologists such as Basil Hall Chamberlain (1850-1935), Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904) and Karl Florenz (1865-1939) were engaged as translators. These books were popular souvenirs for travellers to Japan and were distributed at international exhibitions worldwide. By the 1910s they had fallen from fashion, replaced by efficient mass production.

Place of origin
crêpe-paper book (chirimen-bon)
Yasuko Myer Bequest Fund 2020
Accession number
© Estate of Mizuki Shigeru