Umbrella by Taro Yashima

Taro Yashima
Umbrella, 1958
Written and Illustrated by Taro Yashima

Taro Yashima was born in September 1908 near Kagoshima, Japan. His birth name was Jun Atsushi Iwmatsu. Yashima's father, a collector of oriental art, encouraged his son's artistic ways. Yashima studied at the Imperial Art Academy in Tokyo after high school.  He became a successful illustrator and cartoonist in Japan. Taro and his wife, Tomoe, spent several months in prison because they protested the militaristic government in Japan. While in prison Tomoe gave birth to their son, Mako. Taro's first book, The New Sun (1943), describes his prison experience. 

In 1939 Taro and Tomoe immigrated to the U.S. to study at the Art Student's League in New York City.  Their son stayed in Japan with his grandparents. 

During World War II, Taro served in the U.S. Army as an artist in the Office of Strategic Services. He adopted the alias "Taro Yashima" in order to protect his son and relatives who were in Japan. His wife adopted the name Mitsu. The Yashimas were granted permanent residence in the United States after the war. Taro then went to Japan to get his son and brought him back to the United States.

Taro and Mitsu had a second child, Momo. In Japan momo means "the peach". Momo was in three of her father's books: Umbrella (1958), Momo's Kitten (1961), and The Youngest One (1962).

Taro Yashima's first children's book was The Village Tree (1953). Three of Taro Yashima's picture books have been Caldecott Honor Books: Crow Boy (1956), Umbrella (1958), and Seashore Story (1967). 

Taro returned to his home village of Nejima, Japan, visiting childhood classmates and other familiar scenes which he depicted in several of his children's picture books. Along with film maker Glenn Johnson, they produced a 26-minute documentary, hosted and narrated by Yashima, entitled Taro Yashima's Golden Village.

The Yashimas moved to California in 1954. There they opened an art school, The Yashima Art Institute in Los Angeles.

Taro Yashimas died on June 30, 1994.


  1. Your blog sings to me. I'm so glad I found it. I'm in love with old children's books. I'm going to subscribe.

    Funny timing. I'm posting tomorrow about a vintage childrens book I found and framed. Come check it out and link to one of yours on my linky.

  2. Thank you! I'm in love with vintage children's books too. I will check out your blog.

  3. Hello! I have the original art signed and stamped by Taro Yashima of the peach blossoms which are on the table next to the ball on the bottom image above and I wish to sell it. Please contact me if you are interested. It is a beautiful work! amy (at) amyglin (dot) com. Today is April 4 2012.

  4. it was a very nice think we got ideas what to draw