High School Student Artist Apipo’s Drawings Fascinate Fans; Helps with Struggles, Daily Difficulties

“Usagi no Hatsumeika” (Inventor rabbit)

A high school student artist with developmental disorders has been gaining popularity on Instagram with her creative works.

Apipo, 16, is a second-year high school student living in Yoshikawa, Saitama Prefecture. Because of her condition, she was unable to go to school for some time. But she regained her confidence by doing what she loves: drawing. Now, she continues to create art while attending a high school with a credit system. She held a solo exhibition in Saitama Prefecture in April. “I want everyone in the world to see my paintings,” she said.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Apipo draws pictures with a pen in Yoshikawa, Saitama Prefecture.

Her works feature original characters and animals in her personal style. The works each have a different touch, but they are all distinctly Apipo’s. They are done in black pen with a touch of colored pen and marker. Her intense attention to detail, including in the use of color, can be felt in the works.

Teenager with disorders

Apipo has loved drawing from a young age. She created characters from her imagination and challenged herself to draw flowers with a single stroke, which is no easy task. She enjoyed taking on these challenges in her own way.

“Kirikabu-tachi no Matsuri”(Stumps’ festival)
“Asahi o Miru Hitsuji“ (Sheep watching the sunrise)

She was found to have developmental disorders when she was a third-grade elementary school student. She was diagnosed with selective mutism, which prevents her from speaking in certain situations, and autistic spectrum disorder, which makes it hard for her to form interpersonal relationships. Group activities were difficult for her so spending time at school caused her distress. Her physical condition began to decline as well, causing problems like stomachaches.

Apipo stopped going to school and spent more time at home. That was when she became obsessed with drawing pictures. Her mother, Yuka Takizawa, 39, suggested to Apipo that she post her works on Instagram, hoping that more people would see her works and help her gain confidence.

Video views 5 million times

Apipo began posting her works on her mother’s Instagram account (@apipo1113) about six years ago. Responses praising her work started coming in one after the other, such as “You’re a genius” and “You have a great sense [of design].”

“Zo” (Elephant)

As a result, Apipo became even more motivated to create, her mother said.

What has received the greatest response so far was a video she posted in 2021, when she was a second-year junior high school student. The video, which showed her drawing a realistic picture of an elephant with a pen, has been viewed nearly 5 million times.

The more that Apipo’s works were posted on Instagram, the more active she became, challenging herself to draw pictures in new genres and asking her mother to post her works. Every time she saw a comment on a post, she smiled, saying “All right!” or “I’m so happy!” and her mother said that her ability to express herself grew by leaps and bounds.

The Instagram account now has over 10,000 followers. Apipo now dreams of becoming a painter. “I want to continue to draw so that many people will see my work,” she said.

“I’m so happy that my daughter found something she can say she loves,” Apipo’s mother said. “I hope her success will encourage children who are having difficulty in life, along with their parents.”

“Kanikama” (Crab sticks)