NAGANO – Artworks believed to be created by noted illustrator Chihiro Iwasaki (1918-1974) to entertain soldiers during the Pacific War have been shown to reporters at Chihiro Art Museum Azumino in Matsukawa, Nagano Prefecture.
The works — illustrations on postal stationery — were found at Nippon Seinenkan, a convention complex that opened in 1925 in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo, as a facility of the National Youth Organization.
“If Chihiro was the author of these works it would mean they are some of her oldest existing pieces,” said Iwasaki’s eldest son, Takeshi Matsumoto, 63, a special adviser to the museum.
The materials shown to the media Wednesday could offer clues for future studies on her, since most of her prewar works were destroyed in air raids, Matsumoto added.
Officials from the museum and Nippon Seinenkan confirmed that the original drawings were created for use on letter cards intended to be sent to frontline soldiers.
They were issued in 1943 by the Dai Nihon Seinendan, or the National Youth Organization.
Although the works are unsigned, they resemble Chihiro’s other works, which are characterized by the application of floral ornaments or other seasonal motifs, as well as the use of soft colors.
Because Chihiro’s mother held a key position at the National Youth Organization when the works are believed to have been created, the officials speculated she drew them in relation to her mother’s work.
The museum officials said that two of the illustrations will go on display in an exhibition being held at the museum until Sept. 16. Both are 14 cm long and 38 cm wide.
According to the museum, Chihiro’s father was an army building engineer while her mother worked as a teacher. Most of her works created after the war depict children’s happiness and peace.
Over the course of her life she is believed to have created more than 9,400 illustrations.