We had the good fortune of connecting with minatuba and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi minatuba, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
By following my heart, I know whether to keep going or to give up. When I can honestly believe from the bottom of my heart that there is no longer anything that I can do there, I give up, rather than escape.
On the contrary, there are times when I cannot leave no matter what, even when things are tough, and I think I want to quit.
Even if I cannot get a spectacular achievement afterward, it looks pointless to others, or I am miserable, I continue to do the things that I cannot quit.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Due to the influence that my father and older brother had on me, I have liked drawing pictures since my early childhood. When I was 9 years old, a shoujo manga (Japanese comics aimed at female teens) that my friend was reading captured my heart, and I came to dream of becoming a shoujo manga artist. I got through college at the age of 22 and made my long-awaited debut as a shoujo manga artist shortly thereafter. It was the best feeling. Manga that I drew were being published in the “manga magazine” format that I love along with manga by other artists that I adored, and many people, including girls, of course, were buying them off of the shelves of bookstores and convenience stores all over Japan and reading them. I had actually made it into the world that I always admired.
However, speed is the most important thing for a commercial manga artist, and I felt cornered by my inability to finish my manga how I would have liked to. To make things worse, I became unable to hold a pen.
In the end, I decided to leave the commercial manga scene but I did not have many regrets. The reason for this is that I realized inside that I had something else that was the most important thing to me.
I realized that the most important thing for myself was to paint pictures that I myself thought was interesting and satisfactory, even if many people would not read it like before.
Even now, I am pressed for time as always, since I am also raising two children, but I am painting pictures one step at a time, while adding my original touch in terms of the facial expressions, the flow of the lines, the techniques, and the materials.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Nagasaki is the city where I attended university and developed. It is a peaceful city that is surrounded by mountains and the sea. The city is beautiful, including the townscape. I would recommend eating Turkish rice (a plate with things like tonkatsu, spaghetti, and pilaf) for lunch and walking along the street in front of Oura Church to browse and shop around the souvenir shops and picture book museum. Then, you will continue a bit and climb up Dondon-zaka Hill (which is named after the sound that the water makes when it rains and comes down the hill). At the top, you can look down on the bowl-shaped city and the sea.
After you enjoy your walk, you will eat seafood for dinner. The sake that you drink while enjoying Japanese cuisine and sashimi prepared using Nagasaki’s fresh seafood is exceptional.
If you can wake up early the next morning after drinking too much sake, I would like you to take a walk along the shore. Nagasaki’s sea is calm, as it is an inland sea. It looks very nice as a backdrop for the sunrise, which calms your mind.
There are many other places to see outside the city of Nagasaki, and I would like to recommend the Nagayo branch of the local JR train by all means for travel outside of the city. Since the train runs right along the sea, the views are very beautiful. In particular, the views around sunset are the best.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to the late Professor Keisuke Sato. He was a sculptor and taught at the university that I attended. He made many classical female sculptures. Not only did he look carefully at the external beauty of the models, he also took a close look at the beauty that they had on the inside. When he was working, I could sense that he could clearly envision even the background surrounding the sculpture. His completed works had beautiful physiques and glimmered.
Although I did not enroll in his seminars, I had many opportunities to speak with him, such as during lectures and extracurricular seminars.
What stood out to me in particular was his response to my question about why we make art when I was in my 4th year of university. He said to me, “It’s the same as eating food or taking a bath. It’s part of my life.”
At that time, although I had decided that art would have an involvement in my life, I was questioning my values in many ways. However, these words of an artist still continue to live inside of me with a major presence from that moment until this day, 10 years later.