For the children who lived through the aftermath of WWII, entertainment itself was a valuable commodity. The high cost of paper made manga something to be borrowed and cherished, not consumed on a massive scale. The neighborhood kids didn't gather around their televisions, but rather around kami-shibai street corner storytellers. Children connected their own path to escapism from the scant dots provided.
It is no surprise that nuri-e, or coloring books, enjoyed immense popularity in this time of scare resources and overabundant imaginations. Inexpensive, plentiful, and engrossing, these blank slates--first sold as bags of loose pictures as opposed to the bounded pages we know today--granted youths the creative capital to paint their dreams as vividly as they dared.
Tsutaya Kiichi (蔦谷喜一) was the undisputed king of postwar nuri-e. The middle of nine children, growing up flanked by two younger and older sisters would later help him tune into the hearts and hopes of young girls across the country. His Shirley Temple-inspired designs with Kewpie doll-proportions provided an endless wardrobe of designer kimono and dresses to delight and distract those whose families were left with little more than the clothes on their backs.
As with kami-shibai, nuri-e fell out of fashion with the spread of television and advent of anime, but support from dedicated fans kept Kiichi's unique style planted firmly in the nation's consciousness. The Arakawa Nuri-e Museum, managed by his niece, houses the finest work from his fifty year career, in addition to those by artists who followed the trail he blazed.
Hours of operation and directions to the museum can be found on their English homepage.
The following nuri-e are pieces by other representative artists in the field are also on display.
More images here: