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If it touches someone's eyes and heart, his adventure journey never ends.



Minoru Nagao (1929-2016)is a painter, book designer, illustrator, illustrator, and art director.

He is an artist who has worked in a variety of ways throughout his life, transcending genres.

After graduating from Waseda University (former) Institute of Arts and Crafts, he quit his job as a stage designer, and at the age of 23, set off on a free world trip to South America and Europe. I continued my wandering journey for four years while drawing pictures in various places in each country. ​

After returning to Japan, I started drawing illustrations for novels, and the work I drew in the serialization of "Asahi Graph" was called "Illustration" at the time, and I was the first to have the title of illustrator in Japan.

“I did a part-time job for a clothing company, taught at a charm school, published a book on the history of clothing, used it as a lecturer at a dressmaking school, did photography design, drew illustrations for novels, and bound books. It is said that Mr. Nagao is a greengrocer.”

He drew many illustrations for children's literature as well as literary novels. He was also a graphic designer who not only added pictures, but also designed and laid out books and pages. The number of books he has worked on is over a thousand. He writes stylish sentences, composes haiku, and has published many of his own books.

Such a versatile and active young artist with extraordinary curiosity continued to work in a wide variety of fields until his later years without interruption for a long time.

Colorful paintings depicting scenes from his travels, sketches that capture moments quickly, fashionable illustrations, record and CD designs, postcards that he often made in his private life...a large number of his works are left behind. It has not faded even now, and it gives a fresh impression and even surprises.

On Minoru Nagao's homepage, the basement of her atelier, which was left as it was when she was alive, is packed tightly,These works, including unpublished ones, seem to shine every time you turn them over or take them out.I will introduce them little by little.

​ Enjoy.



"Traveling around the world while drawing pictures without having money" It started with a journey like a movie.

​ Minoru Nagao named it "Graphity"handmadetravelogue andpersonal historyofI have left a note. HISTORY is based on that.

1929 (Showa 4)

Born in Shintomicho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo on June 4th.


​The war ended the year he entered the military academy.

1945 (Showa 20)


1947 (Showa 22)

1948 (Showa 23)

1950 (Showa 25)

Entered the Faculty of Crafts, Waseda University (former Institute of Crafts).

Entered Kenkichi Yoshida Performing Arts Institute.

Graduated from Waseda University.

Became a lecturer at Yoshizaki Gakuin (dressmaking school).


1953-1956 (Showa 27-31)

At the age of 23, he left Yokohama Port. Celebrates his 24th birthday off the coast of Hawaii.

The first port of call is Los Angeles, USA. Arrived at Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1954 via Mexico, Panama, and Colombia. At that time, I had a $20 piece of paper in my pocket.1 coin. He draws and sells paintings, and begins his life painting billboards for movies and paintings to hang in dining halls. His paintings began to sell at high prices to the wealthy class, and he even held a solo exhibition.

Moved to Europe in 1955 with the savings he earned. After spending time in Switzerland and Portugal, he stayed in Italy and France, visiting Egypt, Lebanon, Ceylon, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Hong Kong before returning to Japan in 1956.


1957-1960 (Showa 32-35)

Held Japan's first "Color Photo Design Exhibition" in Ginza with freshly completed domestic color photographic paper. Became Japan's first art director.

After returning to Japan, he was inundated with interviews for newspapers and magazines, and appeared on the radio. .

1959 "MINORU NAGAO” was self-published. In charge of illustrations for a serialized novel for the first time (Weekly Sankei).

1960 Published his first book, "Illustrated Western European Fashion History" (Seotosha). married in the same year.

​In the apartment when they were newly married, Rakugo storyteller VII Tatekawa Danshi and his wife, who were newcomers at the time, also lived there, and the family deepened their friendship.

1961 (Showa 36)

Asahi Graph's large spread"Aka-chan" (relay novel by Rokusuke Ei, Yukio Aoshima, and Takehiko Maeda) started serialization. This is the first time I've used Japanese English called "Illustration" instead of illustrations.It is used and attracts attention as Japan's first illustrator.

The title "Aka-chan" was given because at the time the series started, Nagao, Ei, Aoshima, and Maeda all had babies who were about to give birth or shortly after birth.

​ South America-Europe travelogue "Wandering in the picture" (Nanbokusha) published


1963-1970 (Showa 38-45)

1963 Solo exhibition held in Ginza.

1964 Designed a large mural in the Grand Lobby of Columbia, Japan.

1965 Traveled to Mexico for a month.

1966publication book“Sombrero wa Kazemakase Mexico Travel Diary” (Asahi Shimbun) became a bestseller. Mr. Danshi Tatekawa acted as moderator at the publication commemorative party.

1967 Established an atelier and residence in Meguro.

1969 Named Illustrative"Revolutionary" (Tokyo Bungeisha) and "Basara Human" (Surugadai Shobo) published. His unique technique and expression attracted a lot of attention.

1970 Created a mural for Komyo-ji Temple

As he became a popular figure and became extremely busy, he occasionally asked his wife, who was in charge of the household finances, about the amount of money in the bank account.


1971-1980 (Showa 46-55)

1981 - 1990 (Showa 56 - Heisei 2)

Beginning with the "Detective Holmes" series (Gakkensha) and the World Children's Literature Masterpieces series (Kodansha), he began to work on illustrations and bindings for novels and fairy tales for boys and girls by domestic and foreign authors. On the other hand, his own books, such as introductory and instruction books for illustration, and travelogues based on drawings and essays, were also published. It was also the heyday of his activities, in which he displayed his brilliance even in light and sophisticated writing and handled an overwhelming amount of work.

'76 Received the Kodansha Publishing Culture Award.

1980 Member of the Yomiuri International Manga Award selection committee.

His notes from this periodThere is also a description of ``sickness due to prosperity and fatigue,'' but it is also filled with descriptions of trips to Brazil, Paris, Sendai, and Hokkaido, the start of serialization, and new requests.

Created nearly 100 designs and illustrations for record and CD jackets.

The binding and illustrations of literary novels up to this timeHe has published more than 1,000 publications, and continues to be more and more energetic, such as working on fusuma paintings for temples.

​1983 Moved from Meguro to Suginami. as soon as possibleNewspapers and weekly magazines introduced a color copier in his atelier and introduced cable broadcasting to his home.

In his private time, he enjoys ballroom dancing with his wife, and travels to Manila, Hong Kong, and the Ogasawara Islands on the cruise ship Asuka. Traveled domestically and internationally, including South America, Paris, New York, Kyoto, and Hokkaido. There are many works and publications based on inspiration.

"My feelingsIt doesn't change no matter how popular it becomes. I'm basically a freelancer. Some people raise their eyebrows when it comes to freeters, but that spirit is important. Many Japanese people think that it is precious to do only one limited field for many years. If you're an illustrator for novels, you're considered to be great if you're a single-minded person... I've challenged every job that I find interesting. Designing fashion, designing record and CD jackets, designing educational toys, designing interiors... Unlike in the past, people live longer now, so they should be able to take on a variety of challenges. I want young people to aim to become professional freeters who can make use of their various experiences in their work.”(From an interview article published on the website of Jitsugyo no Nihonsha in 2000)

From the latter half of the '80s, he became deeply involved in haiku.Became interested in it and published a collection of haiku written horizontally, "Image Time" (Kawade Shobo Shinsha).


1991-2000 (Heisei 3-12)

2001-2016 (Heisei 13-28)

"Beneath the blooming flowers of the two sal trees, Shakyamuni passed away at the age of 80.
Sal flowers that bloom in April bloom on the 15th of February
beautifully? sad? and draw a figure of Niiwa

The prince of the ancient Indian royal family has become a Buddha!
Popular tall handsome travels alone with simple clothes and simple food
Eighty-year-old life that I realized in that great gap between joy and sorrow...
muttering that I'm eighty? and draw Niiban-zu

It's amazing to live 80 years old 2,000 years ago!
Even now, he is 80 years old, which exceeds the average life expectancy in longevity countries.
He attained enlightenment under a Bodhi tree during his itinerant penance.
And then slowly enough life under the sal trees

In my case, it's a messed up life
But you know, the leeway to feel in the life of the Buddha was born
Well, life is born and disappears... let's slowly draw a picture."

From "Happy Endless" (electronic publication).


"One of the things I'm currently devoting myself to is haiku. Everyone I know is surprised when they hear it, because Nagao is famous for being a new curiosity. However, haiku is the most modern way of expression in this busy world. Haiku is going to be internationalized from now on, and books with horizontal writing were praised as more appropriate for the times.

There are four seasonal words in haiku, spring, summer, autumn and winter, and we need something like a new season word. Some people twist a haiku right on the equator, and a space pilot looks at the earth and twists a haiku. If you look at the earth as a whole, you can enter all four seasons, and what are the seasons in a spaceship?(From an interview article published on the website of Jitsugyo no Nihonsha in 2000)


1994 Exotic illustrations in "Pro-Am Open - Heisei Daikukai" (NHK Publishing), which includes 1095 works by more than 300 famous haiku poets and haiku enthusiasts from all walks of life who broke down the barrier between professionals and amateurs, became a hot topic.

From 1997 to 1998, he was in charge of planning and writing haiku for Weekly Yomiuri.

1999 70th birthday.

Introduced a personal computer in 2000. While electronic versions and new editions of past works are coming out, the serialization continues to end, and in the notebookA memo of "The storm of the publishing world recession. I'm worried about the effect even if I open a website. I'm thinking about a new life."can be seen.

2005-06,  "Basara Ningen” and “Revolutionary: Woman, Revolution and Desire” (Yoruhira Pro) have been reprinted and have a new impact on the younger generation.
Laozi in pictures: Living in idleness (Shogakukan )・"Buddha" Written by Ran Kawanishi, Illustrated by Minoru Nagao (Honganji Publishing Co., Ltd.)Published a book that reflected his thoughts and outlook on life.

​Nirvana in Koganji in 2010Draw a fusuma painting of a statue.

"Grandpa's picture tweet" published in 2014​ (Tokai Education Research Institute)was written at the age of 82 with the intention of being published at the age of 85 while being conscious of his own end. The 108 episodes express the tumultuous life and the Showa era that I want to convey to the next generation with pictures and murmurs.

In 2015, he suffered a cerebral infarction and his right hand was paralyzed.

Died in 2016 at the age of 87.

スクリーンショット 2023-01-31 14.39_edited.jpg

Around 2000, the workplace he drew (left).

The atelier has been kept as it is even after the main demolition (right).

From this small space, an infinite number of creations were created.

Online Store

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