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Well, of course, it starts off with the idea. Everyone is asked, where do you get your ideas. That’s the thing; it comes from everywhere. The entire idea for Usagi [Yojinbo] was from a sketch that I did in a sketch book. I had wanted to do a comic book based upon the Miyamoto Musashi, a real samurai who lived during the early 17th century. One day while just drawing in my sketchbook I just drew a rabbit with his ears tied up into a chongmage. I loved the design; it was unique. It looked really good. It was completely different from the Usagi of today, but that was the spark of what I’ve been doing for the past 26 years.

comics graphic novels manga Usagi Yojimbo (comic)

Date: September 28, 2010

Location: California, US

Interviewer: Lynn Yamasaki, Maria Kwong

Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

Interviewee Bio

Stan Sakai was born in Kyoto, Japan, and raised in Hawai‘i. Sansei illustrator and writer Stan Sakai is known for his creation of the popular comic book character, “Usagi Yojimbo” in 1984. Since 1987, a series of comic books have detailed the adventures of Miyamoto Usagi, a samurai rabbit living in the late 16th and early 17th Century. Sakai is known for his incorporation of actual Japanese history and culture, once winning an award for “skillful weaving of facts and legends into his work.” An exhibition of his work was organized by the Museum in 2011. (August 2012)

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