Munakata Shiko Memorial Museum of Art




September 5—Munakata Shiko was born in Japan’s Aomori prefecture.

13 years old

Graduated from Aomori Municipal Elementary School and worked as a home-job assistant for blacksmith.

17 years old

Serves as a clerk at the Aomori District Courthouse. Starts sketching and drawing in his spare time.
October 25—His mother, Sada, dies of liver cancer at age forty-one.

18 years old

Munakata aspires to become an oil painter after seeing a Van Gogh sunflower painting on a magazine cover; he paints his first work in oil.
Organizes a “Western-style” painting group with three former middle-school classmates from Aomori.

19 years old

“Seiko-ga-sha”, Western-style painting group, holds their 1st Group Exhibition, which was being held until 13th in 1929.

21 years old

Moves to Tokyo for the first time to pursue a career in painting; Enters an oil painting, produced in Aomori, in the fifth Imperial Fine Arts Exhibition (known familiarly as the Teiten exhibition) but is unsuccessful.

22 years old

October 26—His father, Kokichi, passes away at age fifty-five.

23 years old

Munakata has a great impact at Sumio Kawakami’s print “Breeze of Early Summer” displayed in the fifth Exhibition of the Kokuga-Sosaku Kyokai Society Exhibition.

24 years old

He faces the four-year Consecutive defeat in the Teiten exhibition and begins to feel doubt in pursuit of oil painting.

25 years old

His oil paintings are selected for the ninth Teiten exhibition for the first time. Munakata returns to Aomori after four years to visit his parents’ graves.


27 years old

Exhibits seventh Hakujitsu Group Exhibition and wins the Hakujitsu Award.
Displays four prints in the fifth Kokugakai (Society for national painting) exhibition and wins prize for the first time.
Marries Akagi Chiya, a nurse from his hometown, at the Uto¯ Shrine in Aomori City. Due to economic hardship, Chiya remains in Aomori when Munakata returns to Tokyo.

28 years old

Kyō, first daughter, was born.
Exhibits an oil painting in the twelfth Teiten exhibition and is selected for the first time in three years.

29 years old

Wins Mr. F’s prize and is promoted to be a member at the Friends section.
Is invited to join the Japanese Print Association.
Exhibits the two Hasegawa mansion prints, Gappo Park in Aomori, and A Garden at Kamo in Echigo Province in the seventh Kokugakai exhibition; wins the Kokugakai prize for The Hasegawa Mansion at Kameda, Niigata.

30 years old

Pariji, first son, was born.

31 years old

Moves to the house at south 180, Numabukuro, Nakano ward, Tokyo and lives together with two children and Chiya, his wife. This house is named “Zakke-do”, miseellaneous-Flowers House.

32 years old

Displays print “Banda-fu” in the 10th Kokugakai exhibition and is promoted to be a member of the Friends Section.
Chiyoe, second daughter, was born.

33 years old

Shows The Life of Prince Yamatotakeru, the Japanese Hero at the eleventh Kokugakai exhibition; becomes known to Mingei (folk crafts) leaders Hamada Shoji, Yanagi Soetsu, and Kawai Kanjiro.

35 years old

Exhibits nine prints from The Story of the “Utoh” Plover in the second New Ministry of Education Fine Arts Exhibition (Shinbunten); wins prize in print division of the Kanten exhibition.
Munakata, who was working on color prints at this time, is inspired by Yanagi Soetsu to experiment with urazaishiki (“back-coloring”) technique. Presents The Many Aspects of Compassionate Avalokitesvara, the first work in which he used back-coloring, in a special exhibition at the Japan Folk Crafts Museum.

36 years old

At the Munakata Shiko individual Exhibition, Two Bodhisattvas and the Ten Great Disciples of Sakyamuni is displayed.

37 years old

Two Bodhisattva and Ten Great Disciples of Sakyamuni is shown at the fifteenth Kokugakai exhibition.

38 years old

Receives fifth Saburi Award for Two Bodhisattva and Ten Great Disciples of Sakyamuni. (The Saburi Award was created in 1937 in memory of painter Saburi Shin to encourage new and rising Japanese artists working in Western-style painting.) Yoshiaki, second son, was born.

39 years old

Declares the description of “Ita” board in place of “print” letter. Publication of his only one book of paintings.


42 years old

His family is evacuated to Fukumitsu in Toyama prefecture. His house in Yoyogi is burned in a Tokyo air raid, destroying almost all his prewar woodblocks and works.

43 years old

Exhibits four prints from the series In Praise of Shokei, the Kiln of Kawai Kanjiro in the second Japan Art Academy Exhibition (Nitten) and wins the Okada Prize.
Moves to a newly-built house in Fukumitsu, which is named “Aizen-En” by Junichiro Tanizaki.

45 years old

Revises the carving of “Manjusri” and “Samantabhadra” out of burnt-house original blocks.

48 years old

Moves from Fukumitsu to the former atelier of Suzuki Shintaro, scholar of French literature, in Ogikubo, Suginami Ward, Tokyo.

49 years old

Shows Women, Merciful Avalokitesvaras at the second International Print Exhibition in Lugano, Switzerland, and becomes the first Japanese artist to be given the Award of Excellence.
Set up “Nihon Hnga-In” with Kihachiro Shimosawa, leaving the Japan Print Association. Organizes “Nihon Geigo-In”.
Opens 1st overseas exhibition at Wilard Gallery in N.Y.

52 years old

Exhibits Two Bodhisattva and Ten Great Disciples of Sakyamuni and Three Women Rising, Three Women Sinking in the third Sao Paulo Biennale and wins first prize in the print category, the Medal Luzica Matarazzo (named after Francisco Matarazzo Sobrinho, who established the Biennale).

53 years old

Shows Compositions on Tanizaki Jun’ichiro’s Poems and two abstract folding screens at the sixth Japan Woodblock Print Society exhibition, winning “Yomiuri Gold Prize”.
Enters eleven works, including Two Bodhisattva and Ten Great Disciples of Sakyamuni; In Praise of Great Joy: On Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony; Three Women Rising, Three Women Sinking; and Nature through the Twelve Months, in the twenty-eighth Venice Biennale and wins grand prize in the print division.

54 years old

Builds and opens “Zakke-Sanbo Atlier” at Tsu, Kamakura-city.


55 years old

Presents for an international show of contemporary Japanese paintings sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. (This exhibition, which featured forty-two Japanese artists of Japanese- and Western-style paintings and woodblock prints, opened in Rome on April 15 and traveled to eleven cities in six countries, including Germany, France, Yugoslavia, Egypt, and Iran.)

56 years old

Travels to the United States at the invitation of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Japan Society. Lectures at universities in New York, Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Seattle, and San Francisco and holds solo exhibitions in New York and Boston. Opens Munakata Shiko Gallery in New York. Travels to Europe for about a month, and visits museums in the Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy, and Switzerland, and Van Gogh’s grave in Auvers-sur-Oise, outside Paris.

57 years old

Opens exhibition of ninety-six works (including eighty-eight prints) at the Cleveland Museum of Art; the show tours Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.
Is presented with the Aomori Prefectural Award.
His eyesight, which had been in decline since earlier in the year, worsens. Although Munakata had been going to the hospital for treatment, by autumn he loses almost all sight in his left eye.

58 years old

Soetsu Yanagi, Master in mind of Munakata, passes 72 at age.

59 years old

Munakata receives Buddhism Special Order from the Nisseki-ji temple in Toyama pref. and is given the same rank from the Horinji-temple in Kyoto.

60 years old

Receives the Blue Ribbon Medal from the Japanese government.
A Munakata print gallery is established at the Ohara Museum of Art (Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture); it opens to the public on January 4, 1964.

62 years old

Receives the Asahi Newspaper Culture Prize for his distinguished achievements in Japanese woodblock printmaking.
Goes to the United States for the second time upon invitation from Washington University in St. Louis. Receives an honorary doctorate in the humanities from Dartmouth College. (Hanover, New Hampshire)
Receives the Deep Blue Ribbon Medal for donating works to the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.

64 years old

Becomes an honorary member of the Japan Woodblock Print Society.
Goes to the United States for the third time to open solo exhibitions. Department Store in Cleveland opens a Munakata exhibition featuring twenty sets of folding screens. This show travels to the Smithsonian Museum (Washington, D.C.) and the Brooklyn Museum (New York).


65 years old

Leaves N.Y. on the way back to Japan. Lectures on woodblock prints at the University of Hawaii.
Attends celebration commemorating seventy years of Aomori’s city government and receives citizen’s award for his achievements

66 years old

Munakata receives an “Honorary Citizen,” title (First emeritus citizen).

67 years old

Receives 11th Mainichi Grand Prize.
Receives the Order of Cultural Merit and is honored for his distinguished achievements.
The idea to construct Munakata Shiko Memorial Museum has arisen.

68 years old

“Shiko Neputa”, drawn in celebration of 25th Anniversary of Mutsu Shinposha, is carried on float along the streets at Hirosaki Neputa Festival.
Also receives the 1st Naotake Satoh Prize (designated by Too-Nippo-Sha)

69 years old

Sets out on a journey in India with poet Shinpei Kusano.

70 years old

The Munakata Foundation is established by the family in Kamakura City.

71 years old

Receives the twenty-fifth Broadcasting Cultural Award from NHK (for giving new appeal to educational programs).
Travels to Aomori. Inspired by Van Gogh’s grave in Auvers-sur-Oise, Munakata chooses his own grave and writes an epitaph.
Commencement of the construction of Munakata Memorial Museum of Art in Aomori.
The Munakata Museum opens in Kamakura. Munakata celebrates his seventy-first birthday.
Visits the States for the 4th time for individual exhibition but deteriolates his health and returns home after taking some stays in San Francisco and at Honolulu.

72 years old

Nitten appoints him as a trustee. Becomes the standing director of Nitten.
September 13—Munakata dies of liver cancer at his home in Ogikubo, Suginami Ward, Tokyo.
His bones are buried at Sannai Cemetary in Aomori.
November 17—The Munakata Shiko Memorial Museum of Art opens in Aomori.