History & Culture

Aomori world-class printmaker MUNAKATA, Shiko.

青森が生んだ世界的版画家 棟方志功

Aomori world-class printmaker MUNAKATA, Shiko.   By K.Yamauchi


Biography of MUNAKATA, Shiko.

1903年 9月5日 ~ 1975年 9月13日   享年72歳

1970年 文化勲章を受賞。1969年 青森市名誉市民第一号。

September 5, 1903 – September 13, 1975 (Age 72)

Received the Medal of Culture in 1970. In 1969, became the first Aomori City’s Honorary Citizen.


版画家 棟方志功。青森在住の洋画家小野忠明にゴッホの「ひまわり」の原色版を見せられ画家になろうと決意したという。

“I will become Van Gogh!” was his word, born in Aomori city, who was a printmaker that gained a worldwide high reputation, Shiko Munakata. It is said that he made his mind to be a printmaker as Tadaaki Ono, who is a western painter, showed Gogh’s Sunflowers.

I visited Shiko Munakata Memorial Hall in Aomori City.

1928年25 歳に第9回帝展に油絵「雑園」で初入選し、この頃から版画を始めるようになったという。

In 1928 at the age of 25, he was first elected at the 9th Emperor ‘s Oil Painting “Paradise” and started to make prints from this time.

1952年4月、スイスのルガーノで開かれた第2回国際版画展で優秀賞を受賞、1955年7月、サンパウロ・ビエンナーレに「釈迦十大弟子」などを出品し、版画部門の最高賞を受賞。翌年6月、ベニス・ビエンナーレに「柳緑花紅頌」などを出品し、国際版画大賞を受賞し、世界の棟方としての地歩を築く。(棟方志功記念館HPより抜粋 http://munakatashiko-museum.jp/shiko.html


In April 1952, he won the “Prize of Excellence” at the 2nd International Print Exhibition in Lugano, Switzerland. In July 1955, he exhibited the “The Disciples of Buddha” to the Sao Paulo Biennial and got the highest award in the printmaking department. In June the following year, he exhibited “Camellia” etc. to the Venice Biennale. He got the International Printmaking Award and building a ground as a worldwide figure. (Excerpted from the site of Shiko Memorial Hall: http://munakatashiko-museum.jp/shiko.html)

A lot of brilliant achievements are posted on his website, so please visit there.


This genius of Aomori, to be proud of, was a frank artist who loved the region very much.
He is called “Shiko-san” and is familiar to people in Aomori.

“Asamushi Onsen” is about 15 minutes by car from Aomori city.

Shiko-san who often returned to Aomori during “Nebuta” by saying “I tingle with excitement”.

Shiko was well-known as a Nebuta fan. On the front of the Tsubaki-kan, there is Shiko in the figure of a leap is standing.

これは、ねぶた師の千葉 作龍さんの作。
This is the work of Nebuta master, CHIBA, Sakuryu.

He seemed to be a bright personality with carefree, and was loved by many people.

In the lobby of the Onsen Ryokan “Tsubaki-kan”, where Shiko stayed as a long-term guest, you can see some photographs of work landscape and his works of art.


He stayed at this inn and was drawing oil painting in the offshore area on the Yunoshima Island or was working with some islands of rocky standing at the end of Asamushi Onsen as a motif.


On the day of the Ox in midsummer, in the mid-July, there were the exhibits of Shiko’s hanging scroll, “Yamato-ga“, at three hotsprings related to Shiko, which are Asamushi Onsen, Sukayu hot spring and Tsuta hot spring in Towada city.

土用の丑(うし)の日に入浴すると夏バテ予防や疲労回復に効果があるとされる言い伝えにちなみ、県内の主な温泉地で開かれる丑湯まつりの一環。椿館に展示された「浅虫温泉如来」は華やかな薬師如来様。手に薬の壺を持つ。薬師如来とは、病気を治してくれる他にも、 現世利益をかなえてくれる如来のこと。温泉という庶民の憩いの場に世界的な版画家の作品があるのは嬉しい。芸術家も如来様も庶民的で優しい。

Associated to the legend of effect for prevention summer heat fatigue, it is a part of the Ox Hot Spring Festival held in the major hot spring resorts in this prefecture. “Asamushi Onsen Nyorai” exhibited at Tsubaki-kan is a spectacular Yakushi-Nyorai. He holds a pot of medicine in hand. Besides of curing illness, Yakushi-Nyorai is a Buddhahood that will provide the benefits of this world. It is pleasant that there are works of world printmakers at some common places for people called hot springs. Artists and a Buddhahood are both popular and gentle.




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