Exhibition “CHIHIRO & TOTTO-CHAN” – The world of the little girl at the window by Iwasaki Chihiro

The Japan Foundation Center for Cultural Exchange in Vietnam, in cooperation with the Chihiro Art Museum and Nha Nam Publishing House, shares the delight of hosting an art exhibition “CHIHIRO & TOTTO-CHAN”, by Iwasaki Chihiro, from 9 – 31 August 2011 in Hanoi.



Before the publication of “Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window” by Kuroyanagi Tetsuko (Actress, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Director of the Chihiro Art Museum) in 1981, the episodes were being appeared serially in the monthly magazine “Wakai Josei” [lit. Young Women] (1979-1980).


Tetsuko says, however, that even 20 years before the serial publication, writing about her childhood memoir was always in her mind, and finally made a decision to write about it when she found there were around 7,000 remaining paintings and illustrations of various postures of children drawn by Iwasaki Chihiro (1918 – 1974).


During the almost two years of the serial publication, Tetsuko, the author of Totto-chan (Totto-chan is a nickname of the author), was repeatedly visiting to the Chihiro Art Museum and was selecting the Chihiro’s artworks which were matched with each episode in her non-fiction story.


The story is about the author’s childhood memoir mainly on her life, during World War II, at Tomoe Gakuen, a Tokyo elementary school where unconventional education was conducted. The combination of learning with fun, freedom, and love at the school made Totto-chan a spontaneous girl and eventually led her to a successful life.


Over 7.6 million copies of Totto-chan have been sold in Japan, keeping the top- selling record of all time, and it has been translated into more than 35 different languages. While Totto-chan herself is charming enough to attract plethora of readers, the artworks on the book illustrated by Iwasaki Chihiro are also essential to the worldwide popularity of the book.


Year 2011 falls on the 30th anniversary of the Japanese publication of “Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window”, as well as its launch of Vietnamese version by Nha Nam Publishing House directly translated from Japanese.


In commemoration of such a special year both for Vietnam and Japan, Chihiro’s 30 selected artworks mainly used for Totto-chan will be exhibited at the Exhibition hall, the Japan Fundation Center for Cultural Exchange in Vietnam (27 Quang Trung, Hoan Kiem).


The opening starts at 10am on Tuesday 9 August, including a talk by the curator of Chihiro Art Museum and a reading. Special Vietnamese “Totto-chan” books with the author’s autograph might be presented to lucky visitors on the opening day, as well as the visitors during the exhibition. The exhibition is free of admission. The Vietnamese version of Totto-chan is also on sale at the venue.


The organizers hope that everyone who sees this exhibition will enjoy the creative interplay between Iwasaki Chihiro and Kuroyanagi Tetsuko, who wish all the time for the happiness of children and peace.





Organized by: The Chihiro Art Museum
The Japan Foundation Center for Cultural Exchange in Vietnam
Nha Nam Publishing House

Opening : 10:00 – 11:30 Tuesday 9 August 2011
◆ Curator’s Talk “Chihiro and Totto-chan”
By Matsukata Michiko (Curator, the Chihiro Art Museum)
*with Vietnamese interpretation
◆ A reading “Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window”
By Vietnamese & Japanese representatives

Duration: Tuesday 9 – Wednesday 31 August 2011

Open hours : 09:30 – 18:00

Venue: Exhibition Hall The Japan Foundation Center for Cultural Exchange in Vietnam




Artist Profile


Iwasaki Chihiro (1918 – 1974)
Born in Takefu, Fukui Prefecture, and moved to Tokyo later. She began to study sketching and oil painting at the age of 14 under Okada Saburosuke, and Japanese calligraphy when she was 18, under Oda Shuyo of the Fujiwara Kozei School. Her fist work for children was a set of illustrated “paper-theatre” storytelling panels called “Okasan no Hanashi” [lit. The Story of a Mother] in 1950, and in 1956, she created her first picture book, “Hitori de Dekiru yo” [lit. I Can Do it All by Myself]. She won many prizes, among them; Graphic Prize Fiera di Bologna for “Kotori no Kuru Hi” [lit. The Pretty Bird] in 1971, and Bronze Medal of the Lepzig International Book Fair for “Senka no Naka no Kodomo-tachi” [lit. Children in the Flames of War] in 1974. In 1973 Chihiro was diagnosed with liver cancer, and died the following year at the age of 55.




■ Selected Artworks



1. For the usage of the following images for your media, please contact the staffs in charge below.
2. Please put the captions below in each image when you put the images on your media.




Iwasaki Chihiro “Playing Hide and Seek” (1965)

Iwasaki Chihiro “Girl Wearing a Brown Hat” (Early 1970s)

Iwasaki Chihiro “Playing Hide and Seek” (1965)





Iwasaki Chihiro “Girl with Boy Holding a Pot” (1971)


Iwasaki Chihiro “The Boy and Girl Dancing among Roses” (1968)

Iwasaki Chihiro “Children Peeping through Hedge” (1970)






























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