Japan art and Katsuhira Tokushi: Russian socialism to snow sleighs

Japan art and Katsuhira Tokushi: Russian socialism to snow sleighs

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Japanese artist Katsuhira Tokushi (1904-1971) was born in the prefecture of Akita. His parents were farmers. However, Katsuhira made a small income by carving dolls.

Luckily for Katsuhira, the socialist ideals of Kanae Yamamoto (1882-1946) enabled him to start his artistic career. Kanae sacrificed himself to put his energy into the socialist ideals that meant so much to him during this period. This resulted in Kanae founding the Japan Children’s Free Painting Society and Farmers’ Art Movement. Essentially, he valued the reawakening of the proletarian class and held courses in embroidery, painting, woodcarving, and weaving.

The Farmers’ Art Movement enabled Katsuhira to focus on carvings after he entered a woodblock carving class. This happened in 1928 after Kanae – and other inspired socialists – encouraged ordinary people to connect with art and various angles concerning craftwork.

The prints in this article were completed in the late 1930s. Katsuhira, in these three art pieces, provides a glimpse into his world in Akita during the winter period.

Kanae was influenced by Russian peasant crafts and the impact of children’s art in this nation. He equally became inspired by the power of socialism that he witnessed in Russia. Therefore, this unusual dynamic (very noble) gave Katsuhira a chance to develop artistically – concerning Kanae’s socialist ideals, which triggered Katsuhira’s artistic soul.

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