Often referred to as the Japanese Hans Christian Andersen, Mimei Ogawa (1882-1961) is the father of modern children's literature in Japan and has published more than 1,200 fairy tales alongside a collection of essays and poetry. Grounding his frequent forays into fantasy, Ogawa was a socialist, anarchist and humanist, and his stories tackle political and realistic issues during the Meiji, Taisho and Showa eras (collectively 1868-1989), showing philosophical depth in their poetic, simplistic language.

Born in what is now the city of Joetsu in Niigata Prefecture, Ogawa showed an early promise for writing and attended Waseda University to study English literature. Influenced by the works of Lafcadio Hearn and Russian literature, he published his debut short story while still a student.

He graduated in 1905 and quickly focused on children's literature. His first collection of stories specifically for children, "The Red Ship," was published in 1910. The title story, still a classic today, tells of a young girl who sees a ship in the distance with a distinctive red line across its hull and imagines all the places and possibilities of its travels. It captures the wanderlust spirit of the Meiji Era and launched Ogawa's career within the genre.