Ayumi Ōhashi (b. 1940) — née Kumiko Ōhashi — grew up in Mie Prefecture and moved to Tokyo to attend prestigious Tama Art University. A pupil of the cartoon illustrator Jun Kawahara, Ōhashi started to experiment with crayon pastels to draw young men in stylish clothing. After showing her work to Shōsuke Ishizu at VAN Jacket, Ōhashi contributed to Men’s Club for several issues under her real name Kumiko Ōhashi.
Her big break, however, came in 1964 when she was tapped to draw the cover each week of new tabloid for young men Heibon Punch. In consultation with the editors at Punch, Ōhashi decided to go with the gender-neutral “Ayumi” as a pen name. For the cover of Heibon Punch’s debut issue, Ōhashi drew four boys in Japanese Ivy style — blazers, short cotton pants, loafers, sharply-parted Kennedy haircuts — chatting with another boy sitting in his very own red sports car. Ōhashi would go on to draw almost every cover of the magazine for the next decade, giving an artistic edge to the otherwise tabloid-y content inside.
Ōhashi changed her signature style in the late 1960s but continued to make some of the most memorable illustrations in the Japanese magazine market. She drew the covers of underground magazine Takarajima, even parodying her early Punch work with a post-hippie mustached update. She also continued to do nostalgic covers for Men’s Club with the return of East Coast style in the late 1970s.
You can see Ōhashi here in a 1971 TV ad for the Japanese National Railways campaign “Discover Japan.” — W. DAVID MARX