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Kawanabe, Kyōsai

Living through the Edo period to the Meiji period (1831 – 1889), Kyōsai Kawanabe witnessed Japan transform itself from a feudal country into a modern state. The son of a samurai, his first aesthetic shock was at the age of nine when he picked up a decapitated human head in the Kanda river. After apprenticing with Utagawa Kuniyoshi, he received his artistic training in the Kanō school under Maemura Tōwa, who gave him the nickname “The Painting Demon”, but soon abandoned the formal traditions for the greater freedom of the popular school. Kyōsai attained a reputation as a caricaturist. His very long painting on makimono “The battle of the farts” may be seen as a caricature of this genre.

Kyōsai is considered by many to be the greatest successor of Hokusai (of whom, however, he was not a pupil), as well as the first political caricaturist of Japan.  He created what is considered to be the first manga magazine in 1874: Eshinbun Nipponchi, with Kanagaki Robun.

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