“natsu no prelude” (prelude of the summer) by Yoko Tada won honorable mention last year from the Japan Watercolor Association

The painter Yoko Tada is having what some would call “a moment.” Last year her work was recognized by the Japan Watercolor Association, an organization founded almost 110 years ago that sponsors Japan’s oldest art show. This year she is publishing her first book of paintings. But her path to artistry has been anything but straight. She is turning 100 this year, and after over a 60-year gap, rekindled her love for painting in her 80s.


Tada was born in Fukuoka in 1923, the same year that much of Tokyo and its surrounding prefectures were flattened by the Great Kantō earthquake. Despite troubles to the north, Tada grew up in a relatively stable household. Her first encounter with art was in grade school and she still remmebrs after-school art classes. But life didn’t allow her to pursue her passion.

While attending college at current-day Fukuoka Women’s University, the Pacific War broke out. Tada joined the Women’s Volunteer Corps. She married at 21 but her husband was sent off to war 2 months later and for the next 40 years Tada devoted herself to her home: raising a family, doing chores and maintaining family relationships. “There wasn’t much time for anything else,” she recalls.

It wasn’t until she was in her 60s when she finally began to have more time for herself. Tada began going to museums and exhibitions where she slowly rediscovered her passion for art. Later on, in her 80s, Tada met a teacher who would go on to mentor her and she began to paint more seriously.

After repeatedly submitting her work, last year Tada’s painting “natsu no prelude” received honorable mention from the Japan Watercolor Association. With it came the opportunity to publish a collection of works. Tada admits that her age does make it difficult to paint sometimes, but says that when she is painting she feels like a child.