Iwao Akiyama born March 21, in 1921 in a small village in Oita prefecture. At the age of 8 he received drawing lessons by a Buddhist monk, later graduating from the school of Taiheiyogakai in 1956. Trained in oil painting, the young artist turned to woodblock printmaking when he met Shiko Munakata. Akiyama studied with him from 1959 to 1965. The influence of his master on his style is evident.
The artist is famous for creating woodcut images of both animals and human figures, usually rendered in a somewhat whimsical and naive-seeming fashion. Another hallmark is the use of relatively coarse folk-papers which reveal bits of brown bark from the mulberry bush.
Often, Akiyama evokes innocence and playfulness in his designs, giving an owl or other animals human attributes. Some prints will incorporate philosophical haiku poems. Taneda Santoka (1882-1940) was a revered itinerant Zen Buddhist monk, whose work is often included in Akiyama's prints. One might see the calligraphy of these poems boldly presented with a lonely priest climbing a hill, a humorous bull, or a pensive nude maiden