Japan art and Takahashi Shōtei: Beauty of snow

Japan art and Takahashi Shōtei: Beauty of snow

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

The Japanese artist, Takahashi Shōtei (Hiroaki), was a popular woodblock artist in the movement of Shin Hanga. In this article, the theme is his delightful art emboldened by the backdrop of snow.

He was born in 1871 and died in early 1945. Hence, he belongs to the Meiji (1868-1912), Taisho (1912-1926), and Showa Period (1926-1989) of these three reigns. Thus, he witnessed the industrial and social changes of the Meiji Period – to passing away from this world when Japan was facing enormous convulsions related to the war.

By 1907, the famous Watanabe Shōzaburō took him under his wings. Hence, under Watanabe, the world of Shin Hanga (New Prints) would be his economic and artistic focus. After all, demands for ukiyo-e were in high demand internationally.

In the selected art pieces in this article, the delightful interaction of nature in snow-covered scenes is a real treat. Indeed, for some people, in nations where snow occurs regularly during the winter season: snow represents a strong connection with growing up and brings back an almost childish feeling inside for many people (not all).

The art piece titled Snow on Ayase River (first image) is like the most perfect of dreamworlds. Shōtei completed this amazing art piece in 1915. Hence, with “hope eternal” existing in the more open Taisho Period, you can feel the potency of freedom.

The Great Kantō earthquake of 1923 is known to have killed between 100,000 to 140,000 people. Hence, like many other artists in the region struck, Shōtei would have to start afresh. Therefore, similar to the war – and the carpet bombing of many cities – he witnessed many tragic effects in his lifetime.


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