Noboru Sawai

Region: Vancouver British Columbia
| Born 1931, Takamatsu Japan
Died 2016


Noboru Sawai was an American- and Japanese-trained printmaker whose work was exhibited all over the world, including in Canada, Japan, Italy, and Israel. He was born in Takamatsu, Japan, and immigrated to the United States in 1950 after working as a cook’s assistant for the United States military in Japan for four years. He contracted tuberculosis soon after arriving in the United States, and spent nine years in a sanatorium, where he learned to carve and tool leather, and made jewelry.

When he was discharged from the sanatorium, Sawai pursued his education, eventually receiving his MFA from the University of Minnesota in 1969, and then taking his family to Japan in 1970 to study printmaking under Master Toshi Yoshida. He came to Canada in 1971 to teach at the art department at the University of Calgary, where he taught for 22 years. He established his own studio, Sawai Atelier, in Vancouver in 1981. Sawai’s work was committed to balancing eastern Japanese woodblock and western etching techniques in printmaking. After retiring from teaching he continued to advance his artistic practice, even visiting Japan to learn more about making paper, and experimented for several years with making the perfect paper for his prints.