Japan art and Totoya Hokkei: Pupil of Hokusai
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
The Japanese artist Totoya Hokkei (1780-1850) was a famous pupil of the highly acclaimed Katsushika Hokusai. However, despite his deep admiration of Hokusai, Hokkei was blessed with an independent artistic streak.
He began life with being a young fishmonger during the Edo Period. Yet, his talent for art shone brightly. Therefore, Hokusai was the perfect teacher to develop his skills and creativity.
The British Museum says, “His earliest dated work an illustrated ‘kyoka’ anthology, ‘Kyoka shakushi-guri’, published in 1799, making him one of Hokusai’s earliest pupils. From c. 1810 onwards a major designer of ‘surimono’ and illustrator of poetry anthologies. A small number of paintings of beauties and Chinese warrior subjects, the compositions often derived from Hokusai but the style progressively more individual.”
Hokkei – at the height of his popularity – fused art, poetry, and individualism through the medium of art. Thus, throughout the 1820s and 1830s, Hokkei was busy with book illustrations and producing prints for his clientele.
The Fujisawa Ukiyo-e Museum says, “Chronicle of a Journey to Enoshima is a series of surimono that illustrated landscapes and products related to Enoshima Island. Surimono is high-quality woodblock prints that include both kyouka poems (Comic verse composed of 31 syllables) and illustrations related to the poems. Since surimono was produced not for sale but made privately by the group of kyouka poets, the artists who produced the illustrations fully expressed their supreme talents and skills such as detailed curving techniques and high skill of the printing technique in a small format.”
Hokkei began life with being a young fishmonger. However, his artistic talent enabled him to meet esteemed artists – including Hokusai. Therefore, Hokkei nurtured his artistic and cultural soul.
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