Caricature artist brings Japanese culture to RBHS


Japanese caricature artist Mitsuru Yamada works on his caricature of freshman Alexa Kogha.

Allie Pigg

In the Halloween essence of character masks and Jack-O-Lanterns, Japanese caricature artist Mitsuru Yamada and his apprentice Makoto Matsumura made a special visit to RBHS to speak with Sensei Shawn Beatty’s Japanese 1 class Wednesday, Oct. 31.
Beatty said the two arrived in the United States Saturday, Oct. 27 and have been visiting schools, touring the state and catching up with Beatty’s family, their long-time friends.

“[My favorite part about having the artists here] is that they’re my friends,” Beatty said. “It’s cool to get to see them and I wish they could stay longer.”

Beatty said he met Yamada on a trip to Japan many years ago when Yamada drew a caricature of Beatty’s oldest son. From there, Beatty said it was just a matter of asking the artist if he’d want to come to the United States to speak with students about his life in Japan as a caricature artist, and Yamada said yes without hesitation.
This week’s adventures made up Yamada’s third trip to visit Beatty’s classes, and Beatty always enjoys how his students react to the first-hand cultural experience.
“If you learn a language, it’s fun to use it, see it, hear it,” Beatty said. “[I hope my students took away] the value of learning a second language. This all happened because I speak a second language. If I didn’t speak Japanese, none of this would have happened. It’s also all about being friendly and just asking.”