I love art books. They are called gashu in Japanese. “Gashu!” sounds a bit like a sneeze, but my mind came up with the words “gashu-nut.” Of course, this is from “cashew nut” and being nuts about something is to be crazy about it, so it’s a good fit. Now I was really starting to chase my tail.

I don’t often work in animation, draw manga or create 3-D objects. My focus has always been on drawing stand-alone pictures (flat stills). Even so, there was a point when I fretted myself into a mental block over the limitations of working within four corners and on unrelenting flat surfaces. Wondering if I should try working in 3-D to get out of my slump, I remembered the proverb about patience, ishi no ue ni mo san nen, literally, “three years on a stone,” meaning: persevere, even a stone will warm up if you sit on it long enough. In my case it was more like “10 years under a rock.” That’s how long it took for me to discover my niche as an illustrator. I explored a lot of possibilities during that time, but ended up back where I started, with 2-D work. I’ve realized that giving my all, within a plain and four corners, suits me. I find it infinitely satisfying.

I began this journey with my sights fixed on mainstream illustration work and inched forward in that direction until one day I realized how much time had passed, how much older I had become and that although I was striding determinedly forward, the mainstream seemed to have veered off in another direction. I am delighted to have my own gashu! art book. I am grateful to everyone involved.

The majority of this partial collection of what I have produced as an illustrator over the past 28 years, is work I did for clients. In birthing these pieces, there isn’t one I didn’t struggle with. What should I draw? How can I make it work? I hope you enjoy them.

(English translation by Wanda Miyata)