At a corner of a residential area in the metropolis, there is a place where everyone instantly becomes a happy traveler, surrounded by the exotic glow of the sun and delightful singing—her art museum, which showcases her works which depict people along the Silk Road in lively portraits.
In her thirties, Kazuko Irie traveled throughout Japan, while focusing on stone Buddha statues. The trip extended into a pilgrimage far west, going back to the historical headwaters of the Silk Road. Since her first visit to that area in the fifties, she has traveled the Silk Road from China to Istanbul off and on over the course of 40 years, and once encountered a carpet of legendary blue poppies on the Tibetan Plateau. Her numerous works revisiting the history of East-West exchange illustrate her own adventurous history. During her trip, she carried a heavy sound recorder along with her painting tools. After coming back to Japan, she turned her sketches into magnificent works of art while playing back the singing of the people and sounds of bustling markets, all to bring to life the emotional spirit that she encountered in various locations.
A few years ago, Kazuko Irie fell and suffered a compression fracture. She transferred to another hospital, discouraged by being bedridden and only waiting for the nurses to care for her. With rehab, she again took up her paintbrush, and finally at the age of 93, she held her private exhibition in New York despite her physical impairments. She enjoyed the pleasure of being an artist with the cross-border, empathic communication of her emotional spirit.
Bearing in mind the goal of having an exhibition covering all of her adventures, the petite artist faces the canvas every day.

Kazuko Irie

Born in 1916, Daegu, South Korea. After graduating Daegu Girls’ High School, she was educated at Joshibi University of Art and Design in Tokyo. She was apprenticed to the artist Takeshi Hayashi. She is a member of the Dokuritsu Art Association and the Japan Women Artists Association (founding member). Her publications include “Shikisai Jizai Silk Road wo Egaki Tsuzukete (Free Colors: Drawing the Silk Road Over the Years)” (Sangokan).
Cooperation: Mr. Kiyoshi Irie (Irie Kazuko Silk Road Museum) and Irie Kazuko Silk Road Museum (official website:

Spirit and Spine

created by

project direction
Gaku Okubo (ISUKE INC.)
Yoshitomo Tanaka (Vivot)
site design
title calligraphy
Kenryo Hara (Kikkokai)