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Goin’ Japanesque!

All in Life is Idea for Manga: Rieko Saibara is the Most Daring Mangaka in Japan

Having kept publishing essays and reality-based manga since she debuted as a mangaka, she has ended up making half of her life into manga。 This time we are introducing mangaka “Rieko Saibara” and a group of her works.


1. Chikuro Kindergarten

(“Chikuro” is an artificial sweetener banned in Japan in 1969.)

This work marked the debut of “Rieko Saibara”.

A kindergartener “Rie-chan” creates troubles in this comical manga, which is composed of minimally necessary simple drawings.

It’s 4-panel manga in dark humor that depicts balance between children’s innocence and cruelty resulted from their curiosity.


2. Maajan Horoki

(Titled after the title of another famous novel)

The mahjong game (called maajan in Japanese) was invented in China and it is still used in gambling in Japan. These gambling annals revolve around mahjong games.

The characters are cutely designed and their head is about one-third of the body. Though the characters are adorable, the story depicts them spending money extravagantly by playing mahjong or pachinko games in a humorous and amusing manner.


3. Uramishuran

It’s a highly unusual work in which essay and manga are combined.

The essay part was written by Yuji Kotari, and Rieko Saibara was in charge of illustration and manga.

At that time the Michelin Guide (pronounced Mishuran in Japanese) was popular in Japan, and its name was parodied into “Uramishuran”.

Similarly to the original “Michelin Guide”, this work is also a gourmet guide, reporting ratings of restaurants throughout Japan.

A kanji character meaning “grudge (urami)” is used for the “ura” part of the title. This is because the work intended to publish honest evaluation of eateries unlike many gourmet reports, and it was expected to incur the business’ grudge. 

The content is based on negative ratings and some of its assessment is delivered in rather venomous words.


4. Mainichi Kaasan (Everyday Mom)

This work made “Reiko Saibara” known as mangaka to the general public in Japan.

She married Yutaka Kamoshida, who used to be a war photographer. This work is child-rearing manga that depicts the author’s experience after giving birth to her first son and daughter.

The work was adopted both in TV anime and live action movie, and it depicts Reiko Saibara and her children’s life in which she continues her daring way of life despite being a mother with children.


5. My Darling Is 70 Years Old

After Rieko Saibara divorced Yutaka Kamoshida and he passed away, she remarried Katsuya Takasu, who is a famous plastic surgeon in Japan. This work depicts her newly-wed life with the 70 year old surgeon.

Having supported her publicly and privately, Katsuya Takasu had been a long-time friend of Rieko Saibara and a sort of a patron.

Many episodes of their life together are depicted, including disclosure of Katsuya’s secret membership in a fraternal society, Freemasons.

(Freemasons are well known in Japan as a cabal, and they appear in various conspiracy theories.)



Since her debut in 1988, the author Rieko Saibara has published more than 100 books including co-authored works.

Most of her work is based on her real life experience.

When she was single, she once got deeply into gambling, piling up debt worth several million yen. She sometimes contracted work from pornographic magazine or at other times, she worked as assistant to other mangaka, hiding the fact that she herself was a mangaka. She has had a hard life that is inconceivable for a female mangaka, and she reports her experience in essay-manga humorously to the readers’ enjoyment.

Even after her marriage, she has experienced living in India mingling with local residents while bringing up her children, or she gained experience as a cabaret hostess. She has had many “adventures” not only in Japan but also in many other countries in the world.

However, she has produced many other manga works than reality-based manga. Such works tend to be quiet and lyrical, unlike her private life.

Her lyrical work, “Permanent Nobara (Hair Salon Wild Rose)” was adapted into a live-action movie and “Mainichi Kaasan” was made into anime among others.

When public awareness of Rieko Saibara rose from the manga “Mainichi Kaasan”, even special TV programs were produced, featuring her daring way of living.

Her drawing itself is rough and poorly designed, and simplified, symbolistic drawings may not fit many people’s tastes.

However, she expresses her opinions without mincing words and states clearly good from bad. This is a style characteristic of her, and rarely seen in other authors.

In addition, her works thoroughly depict the energetic life of Rieko Saibara, which is a major characteristic of her works across the board.

Whether it is her fiction or reality-based manga, the content may be primarily geared for Japanese audience. In addition, her manga characters’ words are often hand-written and not printed, thus her works may be hard to be obtained overseas.

However, she is the most action-oriented mangaka in Japan, and she draws reality-based manga on a wide variety of themes from travels, child-rearing, gambling to gourmet reports.


When you happen to see it, we highly recommend you to give it a try.

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Berial the Demon

About the author

It has been over 40 years of reading manga in the deep world of manga. Japan’s manga has an endlessly wide variety of genres. I will be recommending special manga for you to read from such infinite amount of works.

View all articles by Berial the Demon