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Sôfû Matsuno was born in 1899 in working class Tokyo, only a few miles to the north of his future mentor Tsukioka Kôgyo’s birthplace in Nihonbashi. At age twelve Sôfû began the studying painting with Odake Kokkan, a well-known painter of historical subjects. After two years he dropped out of school to apprentice with Kôgyo. In 1915, Sôfû entered his first painting in a competition, of the nô play Hagoromo, and in 1916, his painting of the fourteenth century warrior Nitta Yoshisada won him his first prize in a painting exhibition (still a teenager at the time). In 1920, shortly after the end of World War I, Sôfû was drafted into the military and served in the elite First Konoe Infantry Regiment, stationed near the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. After leaving the army in 1921, Sôfû began to publish nô pictures seriously along with producing woodblock prints. In the late 1920s, after Kôgyo’s death, Sôfû created 27 woodblock prints to complete Kôgyo’s Nôga taikan.