Written by Larissa Holmes
The Mazza Museum will welcome Japanese picture book author and illustrator Momomi Sako for the “Ohayo to Ohio” Funday Sunday event at the University of Findlay on Oct. 2 from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. to speak about her books and illustrations.
Sako first learned of the Museum through Ayane Hida, who is working with the Museum through a grant from the Japanese Outreach Initiative. Hida has been looking for ways to incorporate more Japanese artwork at Mazza. After speaking with her, Sako generously agreed to donate three of her original works as well as expressed interest in coming to the Museum to present her illustrations in person.
The Funday Sunday event will include Japanese-themed stations designed to educate through art and literature. Families will enjoy face-painting, storytelling, origami, as well as Japanese music and dancing in an event meant to spark interest in art and literature and create a lifelong habit of reading.
“Not many people have had the chance to experience Japan, or even know that much about it,” says Hida. “I think this will be a good chance to get a sense of what Japan is and make people more comfortable about a different culture.”
Originally from Tokyo, Japan, Sako received her degree in art education from Tokyo Gakugei University. After graduation she became an elementary school art teacher. She has illustrated over 40 books, and her works have appeared in picture books, magazines, commercial advertising and calendars. A few of her book titles are “Smile,” “Loved Ones,” “Planting Rice on Grandpa’s Farm,” “Num-Num,” “Beddy-Bye” and “Shapeshifting Doughboy.“ Sako currently resides in Hiroshima, Japan.
Sako likes to use a range of mediums in her work, but prefers to use collage and gouache in her illustrations. “Her whimsical paintings are known to evoke feelings of warmth and nostalgia, and the language barrier is not an issue at all. She has an ability to use visual literacy to make her pictures tell the story,” Hida said.
Hida, working alongside Chris Sippel, assistant dean for international, intercultural and service engagement, was able to translate and adapt some of Sako’s books from Japanese into English in order for Funday Sunday participants to read her stories.
One of Sako’s books will be available for purchase in the gift shop during the event. The gift shop is open Wednesday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. Located on the campus of the University of Findlay in the Virginia B. Gardner Fine Arts Pavilion, the Mazza Museum, is home to the world’s most diverse collection of original picture book art. Admission is free, and the museum hosts a variety of events throughout the year for children and adults of all ages. Visit www.mazzamuseum.org for more information.