Introduction

My name is Emu Namae. Born with superb eyesight to see the world but lost it half way to the heaven. I draw many artworks and write many books. Yes, I am an artist and writer. I have dialysis treatment three times a week. That, and only that allows me to live. Though I say this myself but a miracle also allows me to live. Well, want to know more about me? My site is still in the making. But wait and see. I am going to unfold the wonder of Emu Namae more and more, like who he is and what he thinks. Meanwhile, e-mail me your impressions and opinions. Now, make a journey to find Emu Namae. Take you time and enjoy the world of the miracle artist!


"I am a blind illustrator"

When I received the sudden news that I would soon be blind, it hit me like a sharp blade of a guillotine. I was 35 years old when they told me I had diabetes. I did not know that I was living with a time bomb until that moment. Three years later, I became blind. At the same time I began to be treated with dialysis. My doctor then told my parents that my life would not last for more than 5 years.

Despite the doctor's anticipation, thirteen years have gone by and I am still well and alive, leading a very busy life. After I became blind, I have been able to publish 20 books as a writer and artist. After all, my illness and handicap have only been a source of energy, not any kind of an obstacle. Why? Is it because I was proud of being the one and only blind illustrator in the world? No, it was because I opened the door to a new way of life... a way to live by accepting my destiny.


<Profile of Emu Namae>

In 1948 I was born to an average Japanese family in Tokyo. I was given the name Masanori Namae (my true name). Since childhood, I have always been outspoken and talkative. I remember my childhood better and clearer than my mother. I remember drawing pictures since I was three. I remember what I was thinking while I was drawing each picture. These memories have greatly helped me since I became blind.

I then entered my kindergarten. However, the kindergarten did not respect the unique characteristics of children. I did not like the imposition of education aimed towards bringing up stereo-type children. I myself made the decision to leave this kindergarten. As soon as I entered primary school, my writings and drawings were highly recognized. However, I did not like the idea of group education where children are taught to do the same. Despite my resistance, my father forced me to go to school. Since then, I tried my best to become a model student.

I spent my childhood in downtown Tokyo where life was full of traditional Japanese culture. When I was 10 years old, I moved away from this area due to my father's job transfer. Since then, I spent my youth in Chiyoda-ku where the imperial palace, various governmental buildings and Japan's greatest shopping area, Ginza, situate. My new junior and junior high schools were located very close to the Diet Building and the Prime Minister's official residence and were considered to be one of the top schools. For this reason, I once aimed to pursue the "intellectual elite course". However, during the later part of my junior high school, I realized my passion for creative work. I then chose to enter Keio high school where education focused on "self-respect for independence". I was born in a big city and I truly enjoyed the city life. Being a very independent person, I traveled everywhere around and outside Tokyo all on my own, Wherever I went, I was surrounded by love. I had a very happy youth. I loved birds and animals and all creations of nature that co-existed with us humans in this big city. I became very interested in natural science and visited zoos, natural museums and planetariums. Although I spent most of my life in the city I often made long visits in my father's hometown in the countryside and my relatives' homes in the farms where I was greeted with true nature.

Keio Shiki High School, at the time of its foundation, aimed at being an advanced farming school. The originality of its theory and the uniqueness in its education greatly influenced the development of my personality. Three years of high school was made whole by the liberal atmosphere of the school, frequent opportunities to experience the beauty of nature and wonderful relationships with various people. Around this time, I became fond of The Beatles, the creator of music and culture. Above all, I was impressed by John Lennon, not only as a musician but as a poet and artist. His live concert in Tokyo in 1966 was an extremely memorable experience.

Although I was a music lover during high school, I never stopped drawing pictures. I was a very dedicated member of the arts club. My concentration was on oil painting. One day, I came across a book by a cartoonist which made me realize that illustrations are a kind of poetry in the form of picture. This inspired me to become an illustrator. At the same time, I was working part-time at a publisher where I had the opportunity to work with many gorgeous and outstanding children's books. I was impressed by the high quality of their writing and illustration techniques. I discovered the beauty of these creative books and realized the importance of their existence as they would be the first books that children would read.

In 1967, I entered the legal department of Keio University. I was an active member of the cartoon club. I pursued the study of law simultaneously with the study of cartoons. I also took courses in children's literature. My extracurricular activities extended to being a vocalist for a rock band. Despite invitations from music companies to sing as a professional, I decided to choose art as my profession.

In 1968, I published my first book "Yuki no Boya" (Snow Angel). The story was based on the existence of nature in the city and environment problems. In 1969, I held my first exhibition "Sora" (Sky). The theme of the exhibition was again based on environmental problems. I received splendid reviews form various writers on the beauty of colors I used on these artworks. In 1970, as a student of Keio University, I made a debut as a professional illustrator.

Because I became extremely occupied as an illustrator, I decided to leave the university. In 1972, I received increasing requests for works from publishers of children's books. In 1973, I was appointed as an illustrator for the book "Mitsuya Kun no Mark X" (Mark X by a little boy, Mitsuya). This book developed as the story and pictures influenced each other. In 1974, I was appointed as an illustrator for the book "Zakkuri, Bubu, Gatagata, Gorogoro" (Road Roller Saves the Day). This book was translated into English and was also published in the U.S. Since then, my career as a professional writer and artist for children's book began. Until I became blind, I published 60 children's books. My books received high reviews and were often nominated as candidates for children's book awards.

From 1972 to 1983, I traveled overseas annually. In 1972, I traveled by myself for 3 months around Europe. These were truly precious experiences. I had long stays in Europe in 1976 and 1978. During my trip to Kenya, East Africa in 1977 and 1980, I was very touched by its people and nature. I found my visit to Peking in 1980 to be most interesting. I also visited Hawaii and Guam but never had a chance to visit the U.S. before I became blind.

In 1980, I was devastated by the death of John Lennon. Since his death, John Lennon's existence became that of the same class as God himself. I dreamed that if only I could succeed one hundredth of his works. I wished to contribute to the realization of the world he sung in "Imagine".

In 1983, I became ill and was diagnosed to be diabetic. I was told that I had been diabetic since childhood. I was immediately hospitalized. There I was informed I would soon be blind. My utmost effort to recover from diabetes resulted in fast recovery. I was able to return my illustration work. However in 1984, I was once again hospitalized. There my sight worsened drastically. During the 6 months of hospitalization, I underwent extreme hardship and despair.

At Christmas in 1984, my ophthalmologist, a Christian, invited me to a private room in the hospital. He told me calmly, "you were chosen by God". At sunrise on January 5th, 1985, soon after I left the hospital, I received the revelation from God. All this time, I had been tossing and turning at night and dreading for this day. The fact that this time came at sunrise told me that it was indeed a message from God, the Creator. Then I realized that every existence in this universe was loved by God. I decided to accept this life which God created. Then, the world seemed like it was renewed.

In the summer of 1985, even though I became blind, I decided to continue working in the creative field. I prepared myself to become a writer instead of an illustrator. Even though I could not see, I wrote sentences on white paper with a ballpoint pen. I succeeded in completing a long science fiction novel and discovered that I could continue as a professional writer.

In February of 1986, I became completely blind. I began to be treated with dialysis. For a while, I was in depression. However, it was not long until I regained my strength to continue with my dream of becoming a writer. At the end of that year, despite my blindness, I completed a long science fiction children's story. In 1987, I worked on editing this story. In 1988, the story was published. In 1989, the book won the Children's Literature Award. Since then, I began to receive numerous requests to write children's books.

Immediately after I became blind, my ex-wife asked me for a divorce. I accepted. Since then, with the support of my parents, friends and all those who loved me, I pursued my career as a writer. In 1987, I met my present wife and started our courtship. In 1990, we were married in a Christian church and were warmly received by everyone. I made lithographs of the first artwork after I became blind and gave them out to my friends as a souvenir of our wedding. This gift was highly noted in mass media. Through the media, Emu Namae's works became publicly known. However, this work was created with only one intention - that is, to please my dearest wife, "Kobo Chan", the woman who chose to marry me.

N.B. - Presently, I do not belong to any specific religion or religious group. However, I do hold a belief that exists above all religions and that unites all religions. As John Lennon sings, I dream of a religion that creates no wars.

In 1990, I received an offer to hold an exhibition. There, I exhibited artworks intended not only to please my wife, but also to possess value in being without prejudice. I wanted to extend the possibility of human capability by creating artwork visually appreciable by blind people. What greatly helped me was the memory I had of each artwork and my colorful imagination. At the time, my friends and assistants supported me in the creation of my artwork. However, soon, I came to work only with the help of my wife. However, my wife is my supporter, not the creator. My artwork is my sole creation.

With the above progress, I re-entered the world of art as a blind illustrator. After I became blind, most of my artwork sold out at my first exhibition. In the fall, I won the "The Handicapped Art Bank Award". Since then, I became to hold exhibition throughout Japan.

In 1991, I published my first artwork collection. Since, I published artwork collections and illustration books one after the other. In 1992, I won the "Sanrio Art Award", an honorable award given to top illustrators. With this award, I was recognized not only as top "handicapped artist", but also as top "artist". In 1995, I won the "The Association of Japan Regional Newspaper Bronze Prize Grand Prix". This award is given to the top publication of that year. My artwork became increasingly recognized. I continued to be actively engaged in children's books, essays, poems, illustrations, etc. I have also dedicated myself to being a speaker for countless events and organizations.

In 1998, I held an exhibition in New York City. My artwork, "Imagine" (imaging John Lennon), which I carried with me in the bottom of me samsonite suitcase, brought me the miraculous encounter with CARTER'S.

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