Kagoshima artist paints squid and eats them, too



Yuka Miyauchi is a painter, but she’s not interested in landscapes. Her art is all about squid.

She uses squid ink in her work, she exhibits regularly and evangelizes about the animals’ beauty. And she adores them served up on a plate.

Miyauchi, a 30-year-old native of Kagoshima Prefecture, says she never aspired to be an artist and nor did she care much about squid until 11 years ago, when she saw a bigfin reef squid caught by a neighbor.

“Its body was transparent, its eyes sparkled, and it looked like an alien,” she said. “On top of that, it tastes good as sashimi.”

And thus did her obsession with squid begin.

People regard her work with curiosity, which Miyauchi finds curious itself: “They wouldn’t think it’s strange (if I painted) dogs and cats. Why not squid?”

After graduation, Miyauchi worked as a Web designer while continuing to paint cephalopods. But three years ago, she decided to concentrate on squid alone, as she received more and more offers to exhibit her work.

Currently, she has her own studio in Kagoshima. She visits an aquarium and observes swimming squid to develop ideas for paintings.

It is believed there are some 450 kinds of squid around the globe. Details of the creature’s ecology are still largely unknown.

Miyauchi has exhibited her work around Japan and even overseas. And whenever she travels, she is sure to try the local squid dish.

In November, Miyauchi showcased her works at the venue of an international symposium on squid and octopus held in Hakodate in Hokkaido, which is known for its squid cuisine.

Every year she turns out around 50 oil paintings and black-and-white sketches, using squid ink obtained from a nearby sushi restaurant.

She expresses modesty about her skills. Squid is more beautiful in real life, she says, adding: “It is frustrating that my painting skill isn’t good enough. (But) I just can’t get enough of painting them.”