Hasui Kawase

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"Zōjō-ji in Shiba" (1925)
"The Pine Island in Night Rain" from The Mitsubishi Mansion in Fukagawa" by Hasui Kawase, 1920
Tokyo 12 Dai Komatogashi by Hasui Kawase, 1919

Hasui Kawase (川瀬 巴水 Kawase Hasui?, May 18, 1883 – November 7, 1957) was a prominent Japanese painter of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and one of the chief printmakers in the shin-hanga ("new prints") movement.


Kawase studied ukiyo-e and Japanese style painting at the studio of Kiyokata Kaburagi. He mainly concentrated on making watercolors of actors, everyday life and landscapes, many of them published as illustrations in books and magazines in the last few years of the Meiji period and early Taishō period.

In the early Taishō period Kawase was recruited by the publisher Shōzaburō Watanabe, with the intention to design works for woodblock prints. Kawase left a large body of woodblock prints and watercolors. Many of the watercolors are linked to the woodblock prints, he also produced oil paintings, traditional hanging scrolls and a few byōbu (folding screens).

In the West, Kawase is mainly known as a Japanese woodblock printmaker. He and Hiroshi Yoshida are widely regarded as two of the greatest artists of the shin-hanga style, and are known especially for their landscape prints.

In 1923 there was a great earthquake in Japan that destroyed most of his artwork. During the forty years of his artistic career, Hasui worked closely with Shōzaburō Watanabe, publisher and advocate of the shin-hanga movement. His works became widely known in the West through American connoisseur Robert O. Muller (1911-2003). In 1956, he was named a Living National Treasure in Japan.

Artistic style[edit]

Kawase worked almost exclusively on landscape and townscape prints based on sketches he made in Tokyo and during travels around Japan. However, his prints are not merely meishō (famous places) prints that are typical of earlier ukiyo-e masters such as Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). Kawase's prints feature locales that are tranquil and obscure in urbanizing Japan.

Important works[edit]

  • Twelve Scenes of Tokyo (1919-1921)
  • Selections of Scenes of Japan (1922-1926)
  • Snow at Zojo Temple (1953)
  • Hall of the Golden Hue, Hiraizumi (1957; Kawase's final work)

About dating of the prints: Many of them are reprinted 1960 after Kawase's death. (In Japan, it is unusual to number the prints, e.g. "5th of 100".)


  • Brown, Kendall and Newland, Amy Reigle. Kawase Hasui: the Complete Woodblock Prints. Amsterdam: Hotei Publishing, 2003.

External links[edit]