Vintage Illustrations of Trains by Koyata Yasui

Yasui Koyata 4

Kodomonokuni was a Japanese kids magazine that was published between 1922 – 1944. Featuring full-page illustrations, the magazine helped elevate the genre of illustration, which was previously considered secondary to text. The magazine also helped many illustrators becomes household names and one of those was Koyata Yasui.

Yasui Koyata 3

Yasui specialized in illustrations of trains and other vehicles. He breathed life into those vehicles by giving them never-before-seen details and depth. And according to a documentary on Yasui, his work that appeared in Kodomonokuni went on to inspire a generation of train-lovers.

Yasui was born in Shiga prefecture in 1905 to a very wealthy landowner and grew up with a silver spoon. But at age 18, his father passed away and the wealth evaporated. Yasui originally began taking on illustration work to help support his aging mother. Interestingly, after many of his illustrations appeared in the magazine in the 1930s he started working part-time for the Ministry of Railways around 1943.

Yasui Koyata 2

Yasui Koyata 1

Yasui Koyata 8

Yasui Koyata 7

Yasui Koyata 6

Yasui Koyata 5


  1. I’m glad you’ve brought Koyata Yasui to my attention he made some rad art. I like the sense of movement in the trains even though they are meticulously detailed. Although I did a search of him and I couldn’t find much info, are there any books or more information on this artist?

    Thanks for the time.

  2. The fifth image down depicts a type 94 Japanese armored train deployed in Manchuria (“マンシュウ” in the description on the image). Used mainly as troop carriers, they were actually of limited effectiveness in subduing a hostile countryside.

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