He made his debut in 1975 with a one-shot in Weekly Shonen Jump and in that same year became one of the first winners of the magazine's Tezuka Award. He proceeded to spend the next couple years working in Jump and its related magazines, mostly with one-shots and two short series (Blue City and Kyojintachi no Densetsu).
In 1979 he made the move to Jump's first seinen spin-off magazine, Young Jump, where he was one of the many notable creators to appear in the first issue. His first work there was not published as a traditional series but rather as a series of one-shots published in non-consecutive issues. This move away from shonen and his serials being published as one-shots over the course of years became common in his career. His largest franchise, the Munakata series, was published as one-shots over the course of decades in multiple magazines.
He quickly branched out through the 80's into other publishers like Futabasha, Ushio Shuppansha, Shinshokan, Asahi Sonorama, Kodansha, Kobunsha and others. His works also ran in non-traditional places like the Japanese version of the SF magazine Starlog or the Hokkaido Sunday morning newspaper.
A number of his works were not collected until decades after first publication or they are collected under new names or in a different order than originally published.
His friend Daijiro Morohoshi (who won the Tezuka Award the year before him) has notably had a similar career path and the two appeared alongside one another in several of the same magazines over the decades at different publishers (Weekly Shonen Jump, Weekly Young Jump, Monthly Super Action, Comic Tom, Nemuki, Ultra Jump, etc.).