Women who shine for our future #30

Izumi Kawai, Illustrator and Artist

Reviving a Traditional Confectionery Shop by Staying True to One’s Style

Izumi Kawai is known for her delicate and narrative illustrations using pencils and lithographs. She is widely active in designing, advertising, as well as product packaging.

“I was always daydreaming as a child, and realized at around fifth grade, that I needed to become an artist to live a decent life. After graduating from art school, I spent three years in France to gain experience.”

After returning to Japan, Kawai spent her days waiting for her opportunity. Although, at times, she felt like she was hitting a wall, she stayed true to her style with an “I am my own self” mindset. Her turning point came when she was 33 years old and took the role of rebranding a long-established confectionery brand “Nishizen Seikaho” run by her parents in Nagasaki.

“My mother said told me that my parents were thinking of closing the shop, so I wrote a plan and sent it to them. My parents have always been dedicated to their work. I thought it would be a waste to end their legacy like this.”

The redesigned castella and namagashi, or Japanese raw sweets featuring a new logo and chic wrapping, garnered attention as soon as they debuted at the end of 2013. At the same time, Kawai's talent as an illustrator was also unveiled.

“This was my way of showing the world how my illustrations could be used. I have always been confident in proposing interesting ideas, so I’m glad I could create that opportunity for myself.”

Kawai believes that for women to continue to shine throughout their life, “it is important to remain yourself.”

“When you dive deep inside, you have a clearer vision of not only yourself but also of your surroundings. For me, I find that happens when I immerse myself in drawing illustrations. It is important to find time for yourself, especially for busy people who can’t find that kind of time.

Izumi Kawai
Born in 1980, from Nagasaki prefecture. After graduating from the Design Department of Sokei Academy of Fine Art & Design, she spent time in Paris as an artist-in-residence before returning to Japan. In addition to designing books, advertising, product packaging, and illustrations for fashion accessories, she finds time to hold many exhibitions.

2. A piece that bears her own name, “Izumi”.
3. “Nagasaki Castella” half-size was sold exclusively at "Ennari", a Japanese confectionery store directly managed by LUMINE.
4. “Nagasaki Castella” is offered in five flavors: plain, rice flour, matcha, brown sugar, and chocolate. The illustrations on the wrappers bear designs to match the image of each flavor.
5. “Nagasaki Castella” uses locally selected ingredients such as eggs from Shimabara-shi and honey from the town of Kinkai.