Born in Tokyo as Katsutaro Takahashi, Hiroaki Takahashi Shotei (aka Shotei/ Komei) was in his mid-teens when he began to work in the design department of the Imperial Household Agency. He studied nihonga, or “Japanese-style painting” under his uncle Fuko Matsumoto, but also worked as an illustrator for periodicals and textbooks. Beginning in the early Taisho period, Hiroaki regularly collaborated with the prominent Shin Hanga publisher Shozaburo Watanabe. Hiroaki used a variety of signatures. Many of his large landscape and bijin-ga are signed “Hiroaki,” while “Shotei” appears on other works. Hiroaki was a productive artist, completing around five hundred designs by the time he was fifty. Unfortunately, much of his work was destroyed by the fire that raged in the aftermath of the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923. Despite this tragedy, Hiroaki continued to work as a printmaker until his death in 1945.
After the earthquake Shotei created another 250 prints mostly depicting scenic Japanese landscapes in the shin hanga style he had helped to define. He continued to work for Watanabe, but also worked with the publishers Fusui Gabo and Shobido Tanaka, where he had more control over the finished print than was possible with Watanabe. Shotei used a variety of names, signatures and seals during his lifetime. From 1907 until 1922 he used the name Shotei, and after 1922 Hiroaki and Komei.