Japan Art and Rainbows

Japan Art and Rainbows

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Tomioka Eisen (1864-1905) was born during the last few years of the Edo Period. His father sadly died when he was a teenager. Accordingly, Tomioka relocated to Tokyo and started his career.

Above is a book illustration (sashi-e) by Tomioka Eisen depicting a stylish-looking lady. On her way to a Buddhist temple, she can see a lovely rainbow and birds flocking – all seems fine with the world.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (print above) is among the greatest ukiyo-e artists to grace Japan. His stunning rainbow is hypnotic by its simplicity.

The British Museum says: “One of the three principal ‘Ukiyo-e’ artists of the late Edo period, together with Kunisada (Toyokuni III) and Hiroshige, Kuniyoshi is particularly noted for his warrior prints and prints of bizarre and comic subjects. He also did fine Western-style landscape prints during the 1830s and early 40s. Kuniyoshi had an extremely fertile imagination and produced a steady stream of novel innovations: he served as a source of vital energy in the late ‘Ukiyo-e’ world.”

Kawase Hasui (1883-1957) belongs to the delightful world of Shin-Hanga (New Prints). Unlike Tomioka Eisen and Utagawa Kuniyoshi, he had the benefit of higher technical advances concerning the print world of Japan.

The Sompo Museum says, “Hasui was inspired by breezes and spent his days traveling with the sun, clouds, and rain, painting the scenery of all four seasons of Japan. This was also a journey to seek the scenery of old times.”

The three artists also provide the continuity of Japanese history that encompasses Edo, Meiji, Taisho, and Showa – and highlight the importance of printmaking in Japan.

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