- In the cultural center of Tokyo, Hara Shobo has been in business for over 70 years, specializes in Ukiyo-e prints. Our collection ranges from affordable prints (approx. 10,000yen) to museum-quality pieces. With our broad knowledge and top-quality service, we are trusted by collectors and museum curators both in Japan and overseas.
Besides visiting our gallery, you may browse our website or the catalogue. Purchase can be shipped to anywhere in the world.
Please visit Hara Shobo to see beauty of colors and forms, and feel the essence of Edo culture.
- Ukiyo-e, or "Pictures of the floating world", is a genre of Japanese art. Japanese painting was dominated by court painters, such as Kano School, or Shijo School, depicting Chinese-style landscapes, figures, or birds-and-flower. In mid-17th century, town painters, who mainly draw book illustrations, start paintings of celebrated beauties, actors or town landscapes for wealthy people. These paintings reflect the ephemeral sensibility of the "floating world" (ukiyo) and are called ukiyo-e. HISHIKAWA MORONOBU (1618-94) is known as the founder.
Mass-produced ukiyo-e are also made by woodcut, monochrome, or using a few colors. In 1765, SUZUKI HARUNOBU (1725-70) creates multi-colored wood block prints. It is called Nishiki-e, or “Brocade prints”. Ukiyo-e artists design numbers of prints, commissioned by publishers, while they draw paintings on demands by their wealthy patrons.
Ukiyo-e prints are created by the division of craftsmanship. First, the artist designs the print by commission of the publisher. Then, the preparatory drawing is pasted onto the block and carved by an engraver. Finally, the image is printed onto paper by printer. The popular subjects of ukiyo-e prints are cerebrated beauties, actors, kabuki performances, legends, landscapes, or birds-and-flower. Depending on the wishes of the sponsor, newly-designed kimono, restaurants or goods are also drawn into the design. In this sense, ukiyo-e was not only as an artwork, but also worked as mass-media during the Edo period Japan.
- Prints shown here are produced in/after Meiji Period. Traditional ukiyo-e prints slowly disappear and replaced by lithograph in 1900s. The ukiyo-e publisher Watanabe Shozaburo, grieving the loss of fine craftsmanship, collaborates with Western-style painter KAWASE HASUI (1883-1957) and creates Shin-hanga (New prints), as a new form of Japanese wood block prints. Like traditional ukiyo-e prints, shin-hanga is produced by division labor of artist, publisher, carver, and printer. Hasui's illustration of nostalgic landscapes of Japan by delicate, yet vivid use of colors, are acknowledged by world and became one of the most popular artists. Watanabe loses print blocks by the major earthquake of 1923. Therefore, pre-earthquake prints by Hasui are the most desirable prints among collectors.
YOSHIDA HIROSHI (1876-1950) is also known as a modern print master. He illustrates landscapes, not only of Japan but also America, Europe, and other part of Asia. His prints are famous for delicate and complicated use of colors, which sometimes lay over thirty colors create oil-painting-like looking.
We also handle prints by ITO SHINSUII, TORII KOTONDO and HASHIGUCHI GOYO, who are famous for delicate and charming beauties, and OHARA KOSON(SHOSON), known for detailed birds-and-flower prints, as well as many other artists, such as KASAMATSU SHIRO, ITO TAKASHI, TAKAHASHI SHOTEI, ODA KAZUMA, NATORI SHUNSEN, YAMAMURA KOKA(TOYONARI), etc.