Iwao Akiyama was born in 1921 on the southern island of Kyushu in Japan. He is primarily a woodblock printmaker, but has also worked with a form of ink painting known as "suibokuga." Akiyama studied art in high school and art school, but it was only after the war - when Japan started to feel the artistic and cultural influences of Europe and the United States - that he began to concentrate seriously on producing art. In 1953, Akiyama graduated from the Taiheiyo Art School and began studying under Shiko Munakata, Teijiro Fuse, and Hanjiro Sakamoto and concentrated exclusively on woodblock prints.
Akiyama held his first exhibition in the College Women's Association of Japan (CWAJ) Print Show and has participated every year since. In 1977 he joined in a group exhibition of four students of Shiko Munakata and has participated in over 250 one-man shows in Japan alone. He has also participated in over 15 shows abroad, including two U.S. shows in Seattle and San Francisco in 2002. Akiyama is a member of the Fine Artists Association of Japan, the Pacific Art Club and the Woodblock Art Group, "Saku."
His work is held in collections worldwide including National Museum of England, London, the National Museum of Scotland, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia, Museum of Japanese Art, Haifa, Israel, and Cincinnati Museum of Art, USA.