- Akiko Hayashi:Japan Illustrator
The more picture books I make, the more I've begun to feel we really don't need to project our individuality so much. Our individuality, after all, is just ours—it's finite; while if we can reach for the universal—isn't that far more sublime?Akiko Hayashi
Akiko Hayashi was born in Tokyo in 1945. She graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts of Yokohama National University, after which she began working as a magazine illustrator. Her first children's book, Hajimete no Otsukai (Mii-chan's First Errand), was published in 1973. Since then she has become one of Japan's leading picture book illustrators and authors, receiving numerous awards including the Ehon Nippon Award and the Sankei Jido Shuppan Bunka Award.
Editor Minoru Tamura noted, "Perhaps the foremost quality that distinguishes Hayashi's picture books is her exquisite portrayal of human characters. Her style is neither overly realistic nor cartoonish, bringing her characters vividly to life for the reader. Using delicate lines and soft colors, she expresses in a child's slightest gesture or in the special way a child expresses feeling with his or her whole body, her characters' subtlest feelings and responses."
Previous Andersen award winner Mitsumasa Anno collaborated with Hayashi on All in a Day, along with other artists from eight different countries. He describes Hayashi's oeuvre, "All of her work has been highly praised, but her style is rather academic, consistently restrained, modern in touch, and unconcerned with fads and fashions…. Hayashi is one of very few artists who continues to firmly believe in the individuality of her own work—not evading the competition, not using the back door, not putting on masks or pretenses."
Tamura also observes that Hayashi's picture books for babies are another noteworthy accomplishment. "Picture books for babies had previously depicted mostly things, animals, and vehicles of transport; some involved various games, but few had any sort of story. One of Hayashi's achievements has been her success at creating picture books that share with babies the experience of turning the pages of a simple story."
Akiko Hayashi has produced nearly 40 picture books that have been translated into more than ten languages. Hayashi currently resides in Nagano in Japan.