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Born in Sumida, Tokyo, Chūtarō Takamizawa grew up an orphan: his mother died upon his birth, his father and his uncle (who served as one of his stepparents) both died several years afterwards. He graduated from Fukagawa's municipal Rinkai Jinjo elementary school in 1911. In 1919, he was conscripted into the Imperial Japanese Army, and left in 1922. In 1925, he graduated from Nihon Bijutsu Gakkō ("Japan School of Art"). In 1926, he became a rakugo author. He began producing manga in 1927. He gained a regular assignment selling manga stories and adopted the pen name Awa Takamizu, which was later corrupted into Suihō Tagawa: Suihō literally means "water bubble". In 1928 he married Junko (younger sister of Hideo Kobayashi) in a church ceremony.
In 1931, he began the long-running series Norakuro in Kodansha's anthology magazine Shōnen Kurabu, about an anthropomorphic black and white dog in an army of dogs. Although at first intended to have only a brief lifespan, its immense popularity urged Tagawa to continue producing the strip. He has won numerous awards and is recognized as one of the pioneers of the Japanese manga industry.
After World War II he became a bona fide Christian; he credited the faith in helping him overcome alcoholism after several failed attempts. In 1988, he produced the autobiographical Watashi no Rirekisho ("My Résumé") for the Japanese Sankei Shimbun newspaper. He died in 1989 at the age of 90.