Japanese illustrator, born in Yamagata in 1956.
Arai studied art at Nippon University. His production of picturebooks is both large and varied – from small books for toddlers, to picturebooks of nonsense, fairytales and poetry, both with his own texts and those of other writers. He has also worked with advertising, magazine illustration and theatre set design.
His illustrated books have won him a number of awards in his native Japan and around the world; the newcomer's prize Fourth Choice in Japan 1986, the Grand Award for new illustrators 1990, the publisher Shogakkan's 1997 award for children's literature for Uso tsuki no tsuki ("The Lying Moon"), the Special Award at the 1999 Bologna Book Fair for Nazo nazo no tabi ("A Journey of Riddles") together with Chihiro Ishizu, and the 31st picturebook award from the publisher Kodansha for Mori no ehon ("A Forest Picture Book", 1999) together with the poet Hiroshi Osada.