Tadashi Matsui

Speaking Time and Room No.: 2006-9-23 8:30-10:30 Room I

Speaker: Tadashi Matsui(Japan)


Theme: The Development Trend of Children’s picture Books


- On the preservation of the original illustrations for children’s books

Tadashi Matsui, Japan


In April, 1956, we, Fukuinkan-publisher, launched the world’s first monthly illustrated children’s book series titled Kodomo no Tomo (Friends of Children). Through my editorial experiences I have developed and acquired a strong feeling that the original illustrations of children’s books carry priceless value as an artistic production. Also, the artist’s message for children and his or her philosophy are embedded in these illustrations. Therefore, we must conserve the value of these historical resources as artwork beyond the publishing culture of children’s books.


After the publication of a children’s book, the original illustrations had been returned to the artist as a natural procedure. However, we’ve come to conclude that it is more appropriate that the publisher take responsibility for preserving the illustrations with the approval of the artist under the publishing contract. Against this background, we set up a room in the publisher’s building to preserve the original paintings.


In the course of efforts related to the publishing contract and management of original illustrations, the awareness of children’s books as cultural property has thus been promoted. Also, the artist, writer, editor, publisher, printer and bookbinder have gradually developed a common perception not only on children’s books and original illustrations as artwork but also on their maintenance.


With the drastic increase in the publishing of children’s books, interest and reputation in original illustrations have been enhanced. More and more exhibitions on the original paintings started to be held in various places, which generated an acute necessity in reordering, restoration, preservation and maintenance of these illustrations. The timeless value lies in the fact that specialized curators at public museums manage original illustrations as artwork and historical resources. Thus, researchers and specialists will have easy access to them. Furthermore, the paintings can be lent and displayed in museums overseas as a part of cultural exchanges.


Moreover, the comparative study between the original illustrations for children’s books and the book itself provides valuable insights; for instance, the involved artist’s and editor’s intention, editorial processes, and by extension, philosophy behind the project. In addition, the study can be a useful resource to learn about the relation between the transition of publishing technology and pictorial communication.


The preservation of the original illustrations enables the issue of new editions of out-of-print books with more advanced publishing technology. This will make a tremendous contribution to children’s culture.


Fortunately, the circulation of our Kodomo no Tomo series has reached 600 since the first issue. Among the original illustrations under our preservation, the ones from the first to the 100th volume are housed in ideal conditions at the Miyagi Prefectual Art Museum.


In recent years, the original illustrations for children’s books have received greater artistic recognition and attention as objects for appreciation. However, on the matter of preservation, more studies and efforts are required. It is critical to organize a public institution and foster personnel responsible for its systematization as well as administration. Ideally, we hope that a national and public museum for children’s books will be established.



Full name Tadashi Matsui (Mr.)

Nationality Japanese

Title Editor, Researcher, JBBY President

Address 1-1-5 Kugayama


Tokyo 168-0082 Japan

Phone ++81 3 3332 2534

Fax ++81 3 3333 9858

e-mail JDK03301@nifty.com (JBBY Secretariat)