Ippei Okamoto: Notes Towards a List of Works

Since my recent post about Ippei Okamoto, I’ve been making notes on his life and work. He was a prolific painter and cartoonist, and despite the destruction of the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 and the Second World War, a substantial amount of his work survives.

I thought it might be interesting and useful to post the titles and dates of his works here, with the current location of any known originals, in the hope that others may be able to add to the list. He was an important artist and writer in manga and in the wider culture of prewar Japan, so collecting information on his work seems very worthwhile.

The list is divided into comics and published works, films, original art, and books about Okamoto.  Where I know of a surviving example, I’ll give its location or a weblink, but please be aware that some links to commercial galleries may break when an item is sold.

There is also a short bibliography on Okamoto. I’d appreciate it if anyone who knows of works relating to him could add them via comments.

Comics and published works

The Taro Okamoto Museum of Art holds material on Taro’s early life and parents, including many editions of Ippei’s and Kanoko’s books.


Family portrait (c 1914) by Ippei Okamoto


1911 Manga to Yakubun (Comics and Translation): first book in collaboration with his elementary school classmate Katsunosuke Nakata, pub. Ishikawa Buneido.

1912 Producing cartoons and serial comics for Asahi Shimbun.

1913 Producing cartoons and serial comics for Asahi Shimbun.

1914 Kanraku

Tanbo Gashu (In Search of the Picturesque) pub Isobe Kinoe Yodo

1915 Match no Bou

Aside from writing his own comics, Okamoto kept up a flow of satirical and critical cartooning for his day job. This cartoon was published in November in Asahi Shimbun. The Tokyo Mangakai was founded this year.

1916 Manga to Bun – Monomiyusan (Pictures and Words – Sightseeing Expedition) pub Isobe Kinoe Yodo

Asahi Shimbun series of cartoons based on characters from Natsume Soseki’s novels.

1917 Eiga Shosetsu: Onna Hyakumenso (Movie Novel: 100 Faces of Woman)


Hito no Issho (1927 edition)


Heiki no Heitaro (Detachment of Heitaro) Autobiographical novel

1921 Nakimushi Dera no Yawa, (Storytelling Party at Crybaby Temple), pub Isobe Kinoe Yodo

Hito no Issho (Human Life),  serialised from May in the Sunday evening edition of Asahi Shimbun.

Manga to Bun: Akubioshini (Manga and Words: Starting to Yawn) pub. Isobe Kinoe Yodo

Hebo Kyuuri (Clumsy Cucumber) pub. Dai Nippon Yubinkai. Autobiographical novel borrowing heavily from the works of his mentor Soseki.

Akashimi, illustrated book designed by printmaker Koshiro Onchi, (copy held in British Museum: reg. no 1996,1005,0.1)

1922 Essay on Albert Einstein’s visit to Japan (see bibliography for English translation)

Dokoka mi aru hanashi (A Slightly True Story) pub. Isobe Kinoe Yodo

Eiga Shosetsu: Onna Hyakumenso (Movie Novel: 100 Faces of Woman) collected edition pub. Isobe Kinoe Yodo

1923 Zenshu (The Odour of Zen), Kaizo magazine, January.

Illustrations to Jun Ishiwara’s translation of Albert Einstein’s notes and addresses from his Japanese lecture tour, published by Kaizosha.

The Tokyo Mangakai became the Nihon Mangakai this year.

1924 Abu mo tobu bunshi koji (Writer’s Alley Where Gadflies Also Fly), Bungei Shunju magazine, 4 irregular instalments from March-September.

Tomoki Hotei bundan no uchiiri (Tomoki Hōtei’s Raid on Bundan), Bungei Shunju magazine, 9 instalments from October.

Mansuke no Shakai Kaizu (Involuntary Assistance For Social Remodelling), pub. Bunkoin. Humorous essays.

Dojou Jigoku (Loach Into Hell) pub Dai Nippon Yuubenkai. Autobiographical novel about his relationship with Kanoko.

Sekai isshu no etegami (Cartoon Letter from Around The World) pub. Isobe Kinoe Yodo

Kin ha naku tomo (Even if We’re Broke) pub. Bunkoin

Shijou sekai shokoku manyu (Letters from a Trip Around The World) pub.  Jitsugyo no Nihonsha, collection of Okamoto’s round-the-world essays published in Asahi Shimbun

Ippei Manga, collection, Bunkoin, copy in Ohio State University Library

1925 Yajikita Saikou (Revival of the Casual Visit)

Bunshi sanzeso (Countenance of Writers’ Three Lives) Bungei Shunju magazine, from June.

Regular Bungei Shunju contributions continued for the next 2 years.

Fuji wa Sankaku (Three-cornered Fuji) Koshiyama Do, novel

1927 Testaments of 17 Famous Japanese People: essays pub Chuokouron 1927, reprint Sakuhinsha 1992

Manga Shosetsu: Hito no Issho (Graphic Novel: Human Life) collected edition pub. Dai Nippon Yuubenkai

Manga Ura No Hi (Manga Divination), pub. Platonsha

1928 Shin manga no egakikata/Okamoto Ippei cho, Chuo Bijutsushacopy in Ohio State University Library

Chousen manga kudari (Korea Comic Row)


Manga Sugoroku


1929 Manga Sugoroku (Manga board game), lithograph given as a supplement to Shufu no Tomo (Housewife’s Friend) magazine, a game board illustrating the life choices of modern young women.

Illustrated interview with the National High School Baseball Championship competitors at the Koshien Stadium for Asahi Shimbun. (His son Taro accompanied him to this interview and remarked that the newly enlarged main stand “looked like the Alps”. This made its way into Ippei’s interview and illustrations, giving the stand its popular title.)

1929-30 Ippei Zenshu [chosakusha Okamoto Ippei] (Collected Works of Ippei Okamoto) Tokyo : Senshinsha,  [1929- ], 22 volumes. Copy held in the National Library of Australia.

1930-31 Shin Mizu ya Sora: I couldn’t trace a date or publisher for this work but Sharon Domier came to the rescue. It was printed in 2 volumes, one with theatrical cartoons and comments, the other political. Pub: Tokyo, Senshinsha, [1930-31], it was also included in Ippei’s collected works.   Lambiek.net records it as “widely admired”.

1933 Interviewed Morihei Ueshiba, founder of aikido, for the November issue of Budo magazine.

1940s Ippei wrote half a dozen popular songs, including Neighbourhood Community Association. (According to a 2006 note by Takashi Hattori,a relative of one of his composers, Okamoto was staying in an inn in Gifu in 1947 when he drew his last cartoon.)


1925 Uchen-Puchan/Musen Fusen (No Money, No Fight) dir Kenji Mizoguchi, Nikkatsu

1929 Katana wo nuite (Pulling the Sword) filmed twice

1963 Kyuchan no Katana wo nuite, Toei Company, dir Masahiro Makino, starring Kyu Sakamoto.

Original art

1920 Tokaido gojusantsugi manga emaki (The fifty-three stages of the Tokaido in cartoons), Tokyo Mangakai. Modelled after Ando Hiroshige’s famous series of 55 prints, the two scrolls contain hand-drawn humorous versions of his famous views by members of the Tokyo Manga Association, including Okamoto. A copy is held in the British Library, Or. 15028 in the Handlist of Japanese Manuscripts Acquired Since 1984.

1922 Autograph portrait of Albert Einstein, dated December, Sendagi. Done in ink at the back of a copy of Ando Hiroshige’s Fifty-Three Stations on the Tokaido (Jimbutsu Tokaido,) published by Muraichi in 1852, possibly owned by Einstein, now in Princeton University Library.

1942 (circa) Seisen hissho taisei koyo manga (Cartoons on the Victorious Sacred War), album of humorous watercolour sketches on World War II and the Japanese political situation, prepared as part of an exhibition by members of the New Japan Cartoonists Association (Shin Nihon Mangakai) with contributions by Okamoto and other members of the Association. 14 of 15 sheets remain in the volume in the British Library, no. Or.15514 in theHandlist of Japanese Manuscripts Acquired Since 1984.

In 2009, Saru Gallery offered a scroll painting with poem by Ippei done in sumi ink and colours, showing a drunk leading his horse, dated “sometime in the 1930s”. The asking price was €1,200. The subject crops up again in one of the Nagaragawa gallery items listed below.

In 2009, Gifu’s Gallery Nagaragawa held a selling exhibition of over 200 works by “local pioneers” including four Nihonga brush and ink works by Okamoto (nos 197-200). Prices ranged from ¥45,000 to ¥ 95,000. The images on the website are small, but show Okamoto’s free brushwork and strong sense of humour.


Furuya Teruko   Okamoto Kanoko – Hanayagu inochi (Kanoko Okamoto – Colorful Life) 1996, pub Chusekisha, ISBN 9784806070061

Koizumi Kenkichiro   Translation of Okamoto’s essay on Einstein’s 1922-23 visit to Japan, in American Journal of Physics, October issue (Am.J.Phys 49 [10] Oct 1981)

Okamoto Ippei    Ippei Manga Koza (Ippei’s Manga Course) reprinted by Soshisha, 1981, copy held in Ohio State University Library

Okamoto Taro Ippei, Kanoko – Kokoro ni ikiru sugoi fubo (Ippei and Kanoko – My Incredible Parents who Lived Wholeheartedly) 1996, pub. Chikuma Shuhansha

Okamoto Toshiko Geijutsu wa bakuhatsu da: Okamoto Taro tsukai goroku (Art is a Blast: Sayings of Taro Okamoto) 1999, pub Shogakukan, ISBN 9784094036718

Shimizu Isao Okamoto Ippei Manga Manbunshu (Collection of Manga and Manbun by Ippei Okamoto) 1995, pub. Iwanami Shoten

Shimizu Isao Manga Tanjo (The Birth of Manga) pub. Yoshikawa Kobun ISBN 4642054758

—   Hosho Gekkan magazine, April 2008, extract from Hito no Issho

The International Institute for Children’s Literature, Osaka, held an exhibition, Artists Who Were Involved With Children’s Books, from July to September 2000 featuring works by Okamoto, his pupils and peers.

Gendai Nihon – Asahi Jinbutsu Jiten (Modern Japan – Asahi Biographical Dictionary) pub. Asahi, has entries on Ippei, Kanoko and Taro Okamoto

The Tanakaya Gallery in Paris mentions Ippei as a “recognised painter” in a biographical note on his classmate Shunsen Natori.

12 thoughts on “Ippei Okamoto: Notes Towards a List of Works

  1. Pingback: Quick news roundup « MangaBlog

  2. Pingback: Quick news roundup | Anime Blog Online

    • Kitazawa’s hugely important, but there is a lot more easily accessible information about him in English than about Okamoto. If I can’t find much information on people I’m interested in, I research them first.

  3. Pingback: Anti-Berserk law struck down « MangaBlog

  4. Pingback: Anti-Berserk law struck down | Anime Blog Online

  5. Helen,
    I haven’t checked all the titles but one of ones you included a cover for jumped out at me. Issho no hito is wrong. It needs to be read right to left. Hito no issho. Also, Doze u jigoku should be read Dojou jigoku.

    I double-checked with the NDL-OPAC.

    • Thanks, Sharon! My Japanese is at pidgin level so I really appreciate help from those with more skill. One of the wonderful things about blogging is that there’s always someone out there who will let you know when they think you’re wrong – and a few, like you, who back it up with rational evidence.

      Do go on exploring Okamoto’s work. I’m having so much fun with it, I’d like more people to get to know it better!

  6. Hi Helen,
    I only have time for one piece for you. “Shin mizu ya sora” is listed in the NDL-OPAC. 2 volumes: one is a theatrical volume and the other is a political volume. Publ: Tokyo: Senshinsha, 1930-1931.
    Here is the link to the catalog record:

    It is also reprinted in his zenshu (complete works).

  7. Pingback: Talking Manga in the Library « A Face Made for Radio: Helen McCarthy's Blog

  8. Pingback: Värikäs esi-isä | Futoi yatsu

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s