To Ukraine with Love: Drawings of a Japanese Prisoner of War
Born in Tokyo in 1923. In 1944 he was conscripted into the Japanese army. After Japan had surrendered, he was captured by the Soviets and sent to Ukraine. Upon his returning home, he created a series of watercolors on his life in captivity. His drawings were listed as UNESCO World Heritage. Nobuo died in 2021.
On the World War II ending, around 6 thousand captured Japanese soldiers and officers were distributed between the work camps throughout the whole USSR. One of them was a 23-years-old paratrooper Nobuo Kiuchi who was sent to Ukraine together with the other captives.
He spent 2 and a half years in Donbas — in the camps of Slovyansk and Kramatrorsk. After he returned home in 1948, he started drawing the episodes of his life in captivity in order to commemorate his fallen comrades. In general, Nobuo created over 80 drawings, each described in several sentences. In his drawings he often humorously depicts simple human feelings, ascribed to the winners as well as to the conquered ones.
Nobuo died in 2021 in Tokyo at the age of 97. Kiuchi’s art is popularized by his son Masato who created a special website in his memory. “I guess the ongoing war in Ukraine would have pretty much upset my father. Because he always said that there are no winners in war. Regardless of the final outcome, each side bears huge losses. His only desire was for peace to be established in the world from now on. This is my wish as well,” says Masato.
Artwork provided by Masato Kiuchi. Owned by Maizuru Repatriation Memorial Museum.