Komura Settai and Japan Art: Modern Girl in Early Showa

Komura Settai and Japan Art: Modern Girl in Early Showa

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Komura Settai (1887-1940) was born during the Meiji Period (1868-1912) in the prefecture of Saitama. Unlike most parts of modern-day Saitama, his birthplace Kawagoe is still famous for old-style houses and workplaces. Indeed, Kawagoe is called “Little Edo.” 

In the three book illustrations in this article, the title modern girl concerns the changing nature of Japan during the early Showa Period – persisting from the earlier influences of the Taisho Period (1912-1926).

The Shiseido Art House says, “From 1918 to 1923 he was a member of the nascent Shiseido design department, in charge of Japanese-style designs, and was also one of those involved in creating the “Shiseido typeface” still in use today.”

These delightful illustrations by Komura were published in 1930. They highlight a changing generation before the eye of the nationalist and militarist storm.

His lovely illustrations – while being a million miles away from Aubrey Beardsley (1872-1898) – were influenced by Beardsley. Similarly, the influence of Suzuki Harunobu (1724-1770) can be felt.

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