Japan art and Oda Kazuma: Tokyo in art

Japan art and Oda Kazuma: Tokyo in art

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Oda Kazuma (1882-1956) was a Japanese artist who was born at a time of rapid change. Hence, industrialization – and other forms of modernization – were similarly met by rapid changes within the Japanese art scene.

Oda focused heavily on lithographs. His artistic influence fuses the world of ukiyo-e, shin hanga (new prints), and sôsaku hanga (creative prints) – with the last two belonging to the changing times witnessed by Oda.

Shin hanga and sôsaku hanga developed from traditional ukiyo-e. However, the enormous artistic themes of ukiyo-e were not replicated to the same extent. Also, sôsaku hanga moved further away.

The Art Institute Chicago (image below) says, “In 1923, Tokyo was devastated by the Great Kanto earthquake. Despite the destruction caused by this natural disaster, the city developed at an astounding rate over the next few decades. During this period, a number of printmakers documented their impressions of the city’s ruin and rebirth. This modern urban landscape became a favorite subject for artists such as Oda Kazuma (1882–1956), a lithographer who portrayed Tokyo’s crowded streets and nighttime attractions.” 

The brother of Oda operated a lithograph print shop in Osaka (Kansai region). Unusually for his time, Oda adored lithographs that were rare for other sosaku hanga artists. Indeed, this style was not welcomed within the shin hanga art movement.

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