Mitsumasa Anno

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Mitsumasa Anno (安野 光雅)
Born(1926-03-20)March 20, 1926
Tsuwano, Japan
DiedDecember 24, 2020(2020-12-24) (aged 94)
OccupationIllustrator, writer
Alma materYamaguchi Teacher Training College
GenreChildren's picture books
Notable awardsHans Christian Andersen Award

Mitsumasa Anno (安野 光雅, Anno Mitsumasa, 20 March 1926 – 24 December 2020) was a Japanese illustrator and writer of children's books, known best for picture books with few or no words. He received the international Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1984 for his "lasting contribution to children's literature."


Anno was born in 1926 in Tsuwano, a small town in Shimane Prefecture, Japan[1] and grew up there. As a student at a regional high school, he studied art, drawing, and the writings of Hermann Hesse.[2]

During World War II, Anno was drafted into the Japanese army.[2] After the war, Anno earned a degree from the Yamaguchi Teacher Training College (a predecessor of Yamaguchi University) in 1948. He taught mathematics for ten years in an elementary school in Tokyo before beginning a career illustrating children's books.[2]

Anno lived in Japan with his wife, Midori. They had two children, Masaichiro and Seiko.[3] He died on 24 December 2020 from cirrhosis of the liver.[4]


Anno was best known for wordless picture books featuring small, detailed figures. In the "Journey" books, a tiny character travels through a nation's landscape, densely populated with pictures referencing that country's art, literature, culture, and history. Anno's illustrations are often in pen and ink and watercolor, and occasionally incorporate collage and woodcuts. They are intricately detailed, showing a sense of humor as well as an interest in science, mathematics, and foreign cultures. They frequently incorporate subtle jokes and references. Anno's style has been compared to that of M. C. Escher.

Although he was best known for his children's books, his paintings have earned recognition in his native Japan. In Tsuwano the Mitsumasa Anno Museum houses a collection of his works.[2]


The biennial Hans Christian Andersen Award conferred by the International Board on Books for Young People is the highest recognition available to a writer or illustrator of children's books. Anno received the illustration award in 1984.[5][6]

Selected works[edit]

As illustrator only[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Today there are usually eight books on the Greenaway Medal shortlist. According to CCSU, some runners-up were Commended (from 1959) or Highly Commended (from 1974). There were 99 distinctions of both kinds in 44 years, including two for 1974.[7]


  1. ^ "Interview with Mitsumasa Anno". Japanese Children's Books. Winter 2004. Retrieved 2007-05-01.
  2. ^ a b c d "Mitsumasa Anno". Gale Biographies of Children's Authors. (reprint). Retrieved 2007-05-01.
  3. ^ "Anno, Mitsumasa 1926–". Something About the Author. 2005. Retrieved 2015-03-04.
  4. ^ "Japanese painter Mitsumasa Anno dies at 94". The Japan Times. 16 January 2021. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  5. ^ "Hans Christian Andersen Awards". International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  6. ^ "Mitsumasa Anno" (pp. 72–73, by Eva Glistrup).
    The Hans Christian Andersen Awards, 1956–2002. IBBY. Gyldendal. 2002. Hosted by Austrian Literature Online. Retrieved 2013-08-03.
  7. ^ a b "Kate Greenaway Medal". 2005(?). Curriculum Lab. Elihu Burritt Library. Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). Retrieved 2013-10-24.
  8. ^ a b c "Boston Globe–Horn Book Awards Winners and Honor Books 1967 to present". The Horn Book. Retrieved 2013-10-24.

External links[edit]