Motoichi Kumagai

Motoichi Kumagai
Born(1909-07-12)July 12, 1909
Ōchi, Shimoina District, Nagano Prefecture, Japan
DiedNovember 6, 2010(2010-11-06) (aged 101)
Tokyo, Japan
OccupationPhotographer, Illustrator

Motoichi[1] Kumagai (熊谷 元一, Kumagai Motoichi, 12 July 1909 – 6 November 2010) was a Japanese photographer and illustrator of books for children, known for his portrayal of rural and school life.

Born in Ōchi (会地; now Achi), Shimoina District, Nagano Prefecture, Kumagai worked from 1930 to 1933 as a teacher. He had his first work for children published in the May 1932 issue of the magazine Kodomo no Kuni.[2] In 1936 he bought a Pearlette camera (a Konishiroku derivative of the Vest Pocket Kodak), with a simple meniscus lens, and started to use this to photograph village life; his first photograph collection was published two years later by Asahi Shinbunsha.[2] In 1939 he went to Tokyo as a government photographer and was later sent three times to Manchukuo; after the war, he returned to teach in his village.[3]

A book of photographs of school life published by Iwanami Shoten in 1955 won a photography prize from Mainichi Shimbun.[2]

Kumagai published books of works for children as well as books of photographs. His photographs are held in the permanent collection of the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography,[3] and a volume of the series Nihon no Shashinka is dedicated to his work. He received various honours for his work, especially since around 1990.[2] The village of Achi created a gallery, Kumagai Motoichi Shashin Dōgakan, for the permanent exhibition of his work.[4]

He died in 2010, in a nursing home in Tokyo, of natural causes.[5]

Books by Kumagai[]


  1. ^ Motoichi is the reading of 元一 supplied by Kumagai Motoichi Shashin Dōgakan (although this uses Kunrei/Nihon rather than Hepburn romanization and thus spells it Motoiti) and Nihon no shashinka (日本の写真家) / Biographic Dictionary of Japanese Photography (in Japanese) (Tokyo: Nichigai Associates, 2005; ISBN 4-8169-1948-1). According to Keiko Suzuki (鈴木佳子, Suzuki Keiko), "Kumagai Motokazu" (in Japanese), 328 Outstanding Japanese Photographers (日本写真家事典, Nihon shashinka jiten; Kyoto: Tankōsha, 2000; ISBN 4-473-01750-8), p.114, the reading is Motokazu Kumagai (Motokazu Kumagai).
  2. ^ a b c d Kumagai chronology Archived 2009-05-06 at the Wayback Machine, Achi village website.
  3. ^ a b Suzuki, "Kumagai Motokazu", p.114.
  4. ^ Map, address, telephone number Archived 2009-05-05 at the Wayback Machine, etc.
  5. ^ "熊谷元一さんが死去 (Kumagai Motoichi's death)". Minamishinshu. 9 November 2010.

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