GeGeGe no Kakeibo
It will be finished as soon as possible. We're working as fast as we can, sheesh!
Shigeru Mizuki
Mizuki Shigeru
Real Name Shigeru Mura
武良 茂
Born March 8, 1922
Osaka, Osaka
Died November 30, 2015 (93yo)
Mitaka, Tokyo
Nationality Japanese
Family Wife: Nunoe
Daughters: Naoko, Etsuko
Occupation Manga artist
Yōkai researcher
Years Active 1958~2015
Debut Work Rocketman
Genre Yōkai Manga
War Manga
Notable Works GeGeGe no Kitarō
Kappa no Sanpei
Japanese Yōkai Encyclopedia
Military Service
Branch Japanese Imperial Army
Years of Service 1943~1946
Rank Private Second Class
Unit Division 38, Infantry No. 229 Regiment
Titles Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon
Order of the Sacred Treasure
Person of Cultural Merit
Honorary Citizen of Tokyo
Honorary Citizen of Chofu
Awards see Awards
Other Honors First Chairman of World Yōkai Association
Shigeru Mizuki Road
Shigeru Mizuki Memorial Museum
GeGeGe Tsushin
[v · t · e]

Early life

Shigeru Mizuki at age 3

Shigeru Mizuki at age 3

Shigeru Mizuki was born on March 8, 1922 in Kohama, Nishinari, Osaka[1] (present day Sumiyoshi, Osaka[2]), the second son of Ryōichi and Kotoe Mura. According to Mizuki, at the time his father worked at a relative's printing company in Osaka near Umeda Station. When his mother was pregnant, she came from their hometown of Sakaiminato to visit his father when she gave birth to him[2]. In order for his father to start a company that imports and sells agricultural equipment with some parrtners, they soon moved back to his hometown in present-day Irifune, Sakaiminato[1]. Their reason for returning to Sakaiminato was that "the air in Osaka was so bad you couldn't even drink the milk"[2]. Mizuki's exact age when he moved to Sakaiminato is unknown, but it was somewhere between a month after his birth[3][4] to around the time he was 2 years old[5][6].

His father soon moved back as well after his business failed, and the whole family settled down in Sakaiminato[1].

One day when he was 5, he had a sudden interest in death and decided to throw his 3 year old brother into the sea. Luckily a nearby adult saw the incident and told their parents. Mizuki was scolded by his parents and had moxibustion applied to him by his great aunt, who was living with the family at the time, in order to cure his morbid obsession[7].


Mizuki lived a fairly privileged childhood, although his parents often found paying for his education difficult, even delaying his enrollment into elementary school one year. He was not exactly a model student, often sleeping late or taking a long breakfast and making it to school two hours late. At the time, collecting newspaper front pages was a popular hobby among children, and even when other children grew out of it, Mizuki continued to collect them. Mizuki could also fart at will, and would often do so during morning assemblies in order to get a big laugh out of the other children[8]. Other than sports and art Mizuki got rather poor grades[9], but because he was a year older than most of his peers he was physically stronger and would eventually become the leader of the neighborhood kid's gang[8].

After graduating elementary school, he tried to enroll in junior high school[10], a five-year system at the time[11]. In the early Showa period, most children from rural areas entered society with just an elementary school education[12], but according to Mizuki, while Sakaiminato was a poor port town, the locals had passion and most advanced to the next level of education. His mother was also enthusiastic about his education, especially since both of his brothers had such high marks[13]. However, Mizuki would eventually begin neglecting his studies, and his entrance exam instructor even told his mother that "it's hopeless"[13]. While he felt nervous about the future at the time, as soon as he got into a prep school and advanced to advanced elementary school he went back to being a carefree child[13].

Even in advanced elementary school his grades in art were good, and at his vice-principal's suggestion he had a exhibition of his class paintings at the town hall[14]. The show was even covered in the local newspaper[14] He also won the top prize in many school competitions and was once awarded his vice-principal's oil paints as a reward for his work[15]. Even after graduating advanced elementary school he did not move on to junior high, and instead he decided to leave town and look for work. At the time his father worked for a life-insurance company in Kobe, and he helped him move out to Osaka by introducing him to a relative[16].

While his mother was quite worried about him moving away when he hadn't done as well as his brothers, Mizuki himself felt no anxiety and looked forward to moving from the sticks to the big city[17].

Teen years

Mizuki was overwhelmed by all the people walking to and from work in Osaka and thought the street lights at night looked like a festival[17]. He worked as a live-in employee at a lithograph company in Tanimachi (present-day Chūo, Osaka)[16], but he couldn't keep up with the job due to his laid-back personality and was fired after only two months[18]. Next he worked at Komura Printing in Terada but he couldn't memorize the delivery routes, and even when he did memorize them he would leave the packages in places where the customers wouldn't always see them, and so he was fired from this job as well[19]. Afterwards, while living with his relative, he fell ill and showed symptoms of jaundice, so he moved back to Tottori to receive medical treatment[20]. After Mizuki returned home, his father felt that work and life in the city did not suit him and allowed him to follow his desired career, painting. Mizuki recalls leaping to his feet when his father told him of his decision[21].

Shigeru Mizuki at age 18

Shigeru Mizuki at age 18

Taking into consideration how bad he was at focusing and studying, Mizuki searched for an art school with no entrance exam or qualifications. Before long, in Uehon, Osaka, he found the Kyoto Fine Arts School (currently the Kyoto City University of Arts), which at the time did not require an entrance exam[22]. However, it was a pretty small school and functioned more like a private school, with the principal and staff serving as both teachers and clerks and the lessons were closer to a sketch class[23]. Mizuki had worked hard trying to become a self-taught painter, and as such considered himself a better artist than most of his teachers[23]. Soon after this disappointment, he stopped going to school and instead killed time in nearby woods and mountains. Incidentally, one of Mizuki's classmates was the painter Iri Maruki[22].

After this he decided to switch schools, and he had his sights set on the Tokyo Fine Arts School (currently the Tokyo University of the Arts)[24]. Because he only graduated elementary school, however, he had no qualifications for art school, so he began to rethink junior high, quite Kyoto and took the entrance exam for Osaka Horticultural School[24]. Fortunately that year the only subject for the entrance exam was Japanese history, which Mizuki knew a good deal about[25]. Additionally, only 51 people applied and the entrance quota was 50 (meaning only one person could fail)[25], so Mizuki was confident of his success and didn't even go to view the results, but his father checked for him and it turned out Mizuki failed to pass[26].

Mizuki believed the reason for his failure stemmed from the fact that, when asked what he planned on doing upon graduation, he answered honestly that he wasn't really interested in horticulture rather than giving a more model answer like "join the Manchurian Reclamation Volunteer Army"[27]. Mizuki got depressed over the failure, but his father consoled him by asking "What would you have done if you really had gone to Manchuria, anyway?"

In 1940, while working as a newspaper deliverer, he applied for another school (the Japanese Mining School) and passed this time. However, as was usual, he had no interest in the subject at hand, so his grades began slipping and he began missing days, so he was expelled after only half a year[18]. Soon after he also quit his job and went to the Nakanoshima Movie Research Institute in Osaka. Afterwords he spoke to his parents, and at their suggestion he enrolled in the Osaka Night Middle School, which was connected to Nihon University[18]. In the daytime he once again delivered newspapers, and during holidays he'd take in a show at the Takarazuka Revue and visited the Takarazuka Family Land zoo or insect house[28]. During this time, the Pacific War broke out.

Military service

Mura Family

Mizuki (with his father, mother and little brother) during his stay at the Tottori barracks

When he turned 20 Mizuki reported for his physical[29], and although he was nearsighted he was otherwise healthy, so he passed with a B grade[30] and was enlisted into the army reserves. As the war intensified and the military expanded it's draft to include even soldiers who passed with a B grade, the likelihood he would be deployed grew and grew. Believeing he would certainly die if deployed, Mizuki began reading various philosohpy and religious books, such as the writings of Buddha and the Bible[31]. His favorite among these was Johann Peter Eckermann's "Conversations with Goethe", which he even took with him to the battlefield. At the age of 21, while still a third year in night school, Mizuki received his draft papers and reported to the 40th Infantry Regiment in Tottori[29]. Upon leaving for service, he was automatically expelled from night school.

Art school years

Kamishibai years

Rental manga years


Later Years



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 33
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Walking With Yōkai: Document Shigeru Mizuki" by Noriyuki Adachi, pg. 70
  3. "Am I Truly Stupid" by Shigeru Mizuki
  4. "Walking With Yōkai: Document Shigeru Mizuki" by Noriyuki Adachi
  5. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki
  6. Mizuki's answer to this question has differed over the years, sometimes saying shortly after his birth and sometime saying when he was 2
  7. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pgs. 43-44
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 48
  9. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 50
  10. In the pre-war education system, this was the equivalent of three years of junior high and two years of high school in the current system
  11. In 1943 it was shortened to a four-year system, and after World War II it was integrated into the current junior high/high school system.
  12. "Perspective of Review Part 1: Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology"
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 55
  14. 14.0 14.1 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 56
  15. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 57
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 58
  17. 17.0 17.1 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 59
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 "Shigeru Mizuki's Side Story Manga: The Complete Collection Version (Post War Arc)" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 480
  19. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 61
  20. "Am I Truly Stupid?" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 18
  21. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 64
  22. 22.0 22.1 Maruki Art Museum Curator's Diary
  23. 23.0 23.1 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 65
  24. 24.0 24.1 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 68
  25. 25.0 25.1 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 69
  26. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 70
  27. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 71
  28. "Am I Truly Stupid?" by Shigeru Mizuki, pgs. 68-70
  29. 29.0 29.1 "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 77
  30. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 7
  31. "Mizuki-san's Theory of Happiness" by Shigeru Mizuki, pg. 76