The Royal County Arbiter

28 March 2006

The World of Mimiyo Tomozawa

There doesn't seem to be any really good online English resource for excellent Japanese artist Mimiyo Tomozawa. She isn't even on Wikipedia, for Christ's sake! So:

PART 1: THE ART OF MIMIYO TOMOZAWA

Mimiyo is probably best-known for her artwork on two Jim O'Rourke album sleeves (Eureka and Insignificance, both released on Drag City):

Mimiyo Tomozawa's artwork for Jim O'Rourke's albums Insignificance and Eureka

As you can see, there is a theme running through her work. Put simply: Round-headed people who often look unhappy. In that sense, she's like a Japanese Charles Schultz. Several books of Mimiyo's comics and graphic art have been published in Japan, and her work is a regular feature of underground comics and magazines there. Several years ago, a ten-page Mimiyo strip, Through The Looking Chest, appeared in Tokion magazine's 'Happy Issue 3'. It was presented in Japanese and English. This is the only Mimiyo comic to have ever been officially available in English, though a slim French children's book called Viens chez moi describes what a house will be like in the future. In French.

This dreadful lack of English Mimiyo content has prompted me to translate a two-page manga from her book Kinoko Ryokou (Mushroom Travel). Here it is! Just for fun! With acknowledgement that all copyright lies with Mimiyo and her publisher! Click the links to see each page.

"SHIMERU"
The Royal County Arbiter presents a translation of Mimiyo Tomozawa manga Shimeru
PAGE ONE
~ PAGE TWO

PART 2: THE MUSIC OF MIMIYO TOMOZAWA (cribbed from here)

In 1990, Mimiyo Tomozawa and Missa Fukuma formed a 'Spacy Folk' group called RISU ('squirrel' in Japanese). They had one release only - an "Official Recording Cassette Tape" - which the pair decided to reissue in 2000 on CD after exchanging some emails on the subject. Re-titled "The Best Of RISU - Past Future Folk Songs" and expanded to include tracks not on the original cassette, the CD was remastered by Mayo Takise, one of Yann Tomita's right-hand men. On its release, Miss Fukuma had the following to say: "The sound of RISU was 10 years early. It's 2000 that we all understand the most evil devil and the most gentle god are the same one. It's strange feeling like the light of stars finally come to the earth now."

Here it is at Amazon Japan (Japanese language link). If you think your local super-hep record store might be game, the CD was released on EMPEROR RECORDS, catalogue number ER-2003, on 2000.7.7.

For immediate thrills, you can download an mp3 by Mimiyo here, available for free as part of a 10-track experimental EP entitled "Minute Women," also featuring excellent French group Dragibus.

PART 3: THE GOSSIP OF MIMIYO TOMOZAWA

1) Mimiyo is married to a French musician, and they've had a child together.
2) Mimiyo and Jim O’Rourke like to sing karaoke together when they're both in Japan.

This is all the gossip I've found so far, and it concludes my brief tour around the World of Mimiyo Tomozawa.

MIMIYO LINK APOCALYPSE

Epileptic page containing lots of Mimiyo art, and great music by Dragibus.
Information about 2005's Stranger Town exhibition, featuring Mimiyo and Daniel Johnston.
A New York Times article on Stranger Town.
'Snap Shots' Photo exhibition at the Neon Gallery Brösart from 2002, featuring Mimiyo and O'Rourke.
Some photos of Mimiyo (in black with white polka-dots) at an exhibition closing party in Love Lab, Tokyo.
The goods of Mimiyo Tomozawa (some t-shirts and books, page in Japanese)

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