[Photograph]  NAKAMURA Kiyoshi

[Text]  ONO Yoshimi

This article is a translated version, which was originally published in Japanese language on 26 August, 2022.

Reading time:3 minutes

(Date updated)06 July, 2023

(About this story)

Complex, intricate lines, resembling coastlines or contour lines, are formed into shapes, creating images of animals, people, and cityscapes in striking patterns. The artist behind these images is raito, who works at MINATOMACHI FACTORY in Nagasaki Prefecture. On this day, raito is working on his elaborate drawings at his neatly arranged desk.



《Goat》/ Pencil / 250×175mm / 2018


《Farmers》/ Pencil / 250×175mm / 2020

Unique patterns drawn to resemble
how things appear to the artist

On this particular day at MINATOMACHI FACTORY in Sasebo, Nagasaki, raito was drawing a picture of a flying fish in his sketchbook and was busy filling in detailed patterns.


With a serious expression on his face, raito draws a detailed pattern on his flying fish picture.

He places a ruler over the area he is working on and slowly moves the pencil, which has been sharpened to a fine point. Despite this, the ruler is not something he uses to draw lines; the drawing is done freehand.

On his desk, he always keeps a desktop pencil sharpener, a pen case, and a water bottle. He positions his face close to the sketchbook, occasionally making corrections by erasing lines with an eraser. Then he pauses his hand and looks carefully at the work in progress. Raito’s meticulous creations take shape with extreme care. It takes about three to four months to complete one drawing.


Raito picks up the photo of the flying fish he is modeling his drawing on.


Raito looks closely at the reference photo.


The ruler that accompanies the pencil is not used to draw lines. He draws all of the detailed shapes freehand.

The complex lines and patterns began to appear in his work at the same time he began using MINATOMACHI FACTORY in 2016. When asked about the patterns, raito said:

“This is how they look to me.”

His manner of speaking was formal and polite.

Treasured tools arranged neatly
atop a spotless desktop

The pencil raito was using was so short that it was hidden in his fist. His ruler was broken in the middle. Despite this, raito says:

“It is still usable. I just use the parts I can.”

He immediately put away the tools not in use in his bag.

“I don’t think it is good to be too messy.”

This too, he says politely.

Sometimes, he draws his work in pencil and then colors it in with colored pencils. Other times, he layers the colors at the suggestion of a staff member, adding colored markers on top of the colored pencils.


A view of raito’s desk with work in progress. Familiar tools such as a sharp pencil, well-worn eraser, a broken but still usable ruler, and a pencil sharpener are laid out on the desk.


A drawing of MIYAZAKI Hayao by raito. The colors were added by a former member of MINATOMACHI FACTORY. The work is on display at and.basic, a company under the same management as MINATOMACHI FACTORY.


《Dog》/ Pencil, colored pencils / 345×240mm / 2019年


《Lion》/ Pencil / 345×240mm / 2019


《Train》/ Colored pencils, colored markers / 350×245mm / 2021


《Meganebashi Bridge》/ Colored pencils, colored markers / 330×225mm / 2021

Both the characters and the story are his forte. An original, full-length manga fills 11 notebooks.

Raito also happens to be a manga artist. Since 2020, he has been drawing an original manga series, That’s Raito, in large-sized notebooks. It’s a huge endeavor, and he is now working on its 11th volume. The first page of every volume is in color, just like commercial manga serialized in magazines. The story touches on art club activities, friendship, and romance. It seems like a school life story, but then there’s a scene in which a dinosaur makes an appearance. The characters are modeled on teachers and friends at the school that raito actually attended.


Raito’s bag contains nearly 20 neatly stacked notebooks.


That’s Raito, his original manga, drawn in a large-sized notebook. The first page is colored with colored pencils.


Raidog, an original character by raito, drawn in a large-sized notebook. The character’s features are described in detail: “He can run faster than a horse, is stronger than a polar bear, and can fly faster than a swallow.”


The lower left page of the notebook is Raidog. The upper right page is Mei-chan in an animal suit. Both are raito’s original characters.


The novel version of The Nightmare Before Christmas, one of raito’s favorite stories, which he happened to have with him that day.

He also has a notebook for drawing characters that he comes up with himself. Raito, a white dog with black spots, transforms into a robot dog called Raidog. Keta is an anthropomorphic mini truck. According to the description paired with the illustration, Keta is “kind-hearted, but wants to be young again.” Raito also includes the name of the voice actor that he envisions would voice the character in the anime adaption.

The manga and character illustrations are not decorated with patterned lines. His drawings are drawing-like, and his manga are manga-like. They are simply different modes of expression.

Raito straightened the notebooks that he showed us and tucked them back into his bag, then returned to drawing his picture. The flying fish was a motif suggested by a staff member because it is used as an ingredient in agodashi (flying fish soup stock), a Nagasaki specialty. Raito examines at the photo as he draws. He told us that he’s drawing the flying fish, even though he is not particularly interested in it.

If not flying fish, what does he like? Trains and dogs, he says. Going to nice stores and the library. Thomas the Locomotive, TEZUKA Osamu, and the manga KochiKame: Tokyo Beat Cops.

The patterns that raito draws are reportedly becoming more and more detailed. Indeed, compared to his previous works, the patterns occupy a larger area of the flying fish drawing, although it is still a work in progress.

“This is how they look to me.”

Having said this, raito is still only in his 20s. How will he change from now on, and what kind of lines will he use to capture the world in the future? One thing is likely to remain the same: the pencils, ruler, and erasers that raito handles so carefully will probably be arranged neatly on his desk just as they are now.


《Beethoven》/ Pencil / 250×175mm / 2019


《Jimi Hendrix》/ Pencil / 250×175mm / 2017


《NATSUME Soseki》/ Pencil / 250×175mm / 2017


《Cleopatra》/ Pencil / 250×175mm / 2017


《Marilyn Monroe》/ Pencil / 175×250mm / 2019


《Marilyn Monroe》/ Pencil, colored markers / 175×250mm / 2019


Looking at the camera, raito showed us a variety of expressions.

(About embedded content) Raito at work on a drawing

(埋め込みコンテンツの説明) [YouTube]

Related people


(Profile of raito)
Raito was born in Sasebo City, Nagasaki in 1997. His graphics appear at first glance to be digital art, but are drawn entirely freehand with a ruler. Known for his unique touch, his works are dominated by multiple intricate and meticulously drawn lines that follow no particular rules. Transcending the boundary between analog and digital, his works express a one-of-a-kind world. In 2017, he won the Turner Color Prize (Art Materials Support Category) at the 19th Able Art Awards. Then, in 2020, he won the Paralym Art World Cup 2020 Sompo Japan Prize. In 2018, he was invited to exhibit his work at the ‘ART BRUT exhibition.’ He has also exhibited at the 2019 ‘Minatomachi Factory Art That Became Products’ exhibition (Sasebo City Museum Shimanose Art Center) and the 2019 ‘Minatomachi Factory Zoo Art Exhibition’ (Nagasaki ARKAS SASEBO).
(Sites related to raito)