Sōshū is present-day Kanagawa Prefecture. The array of traditional thatched-roof houses along the street, the shadows of large pine trees, a person walking with an umbrella, and the straight lines of rain produce a sense of tranquility as well as the nostalgia reminiscent of some work by Utagawa Hiroshige:
“A rainy night, a row of thatch-roofed houses line the street – a traditional woodblock print design and one of Hasui’s favourites. …The rain is created through the use of the baren (pad used to apply colour during print)”.
Hasui’s biographer and compiler of the artist’s first catalogue raisoneeé Kawase Hasui mokuhanga shu, Mainichi Shinbun, Tokyo, 1979.
The Woodblock Print
This woodblock by Hasui is in excellent condition; strong color and rich blacks, no discoloration, even toning to the paper, strong margins and edges. Delicate warm variations in the color of the reflections.
Originally published in 1932, this print has the Watanabe Publisher 6mm seal faintly seen in the lower left of the image, indicating a lifetime printing (1946-57).
About the Artist
Kawase Hasui (川瀬巴水, May 18 1883 – November 7 1957) was a prominent Japanese printmaker known for his striking depictions of Japanese landscapes. Born in Tokyo, Hasui showed an early aptitude for art and began studying at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts at the age of 19. It was during this time that he became interested in printmaking, particularly the traditional Japanese woodblock printing techniques that he would later become known for.
Hasui’s prints captured the beauty and tranquility of Japanese landscapes, often featuring snow-covered mountains, serene lakes, and peaceful villages. His early works were influenced by the ukiyo-e tradition of Japanese woodblock printing, but Hasui’s style soon evolved to become more realistic and impressionistic. He used a delicate color palette and a careful attention to detail to create prints that were both beautiful and evocative.
Hasui’s reputation as a master printmaker grew throughout the 1920s and 1930s, and his works were widely exhibited and collected both in Japan and abroad. He was particularly popular in the United States, where his prints were eagerly collected by American art lovers and helped to fuel a craze for Japanese art and design in the early 20th century.
During World War II, Hasui’s career was temporarily interrupted, as the Japanese government restricted the production of non-military artwork. However, after the war, he resumed his work as a printmaker, creating some of his most iconic works during this period, such as “Kegon Falls at Nikko” (1949) and “Evening Snow at Kanbara” (1951).
Hasui’s prints continue to be highly valued by collectors and art enthusiasts around the world. His works are celebrated for their exquisite beauty, technical mastery, and powerful evocation of the Japanese landscape. As art historian Kendall Brown notes, “Hasui was one of the great masters of Japanese landscape printmaking, and his works are among the most beautiful and evocative examples of the genre.”
- Brown, Kendall H. Kawase Hasui: The Complete Woodblock Prints. Amsterdam: Hotei Publishing, 2003.
- Merritt, Helen. Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: The Early Years. University of Hawaii Press, 1990.
- Smith, Lawrence. Modern Japanese Prints: 1912-1989. British Museum Press, 1994.
- “Kawase Hasui.” The Complete Works of Kawase Hasui, vol. 1, Unsodo, 1979.
- “Kawase Hasui.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., n.d. Web. 09 May 2023.
- “Kawase Hasui.” National Diet Library. Web. 09 May 2023.
The majority of Hasui prints are with Watanabe, but he also produced with Kawaguchi/Sakai and Doi Publishing.
Notes when buying: Hasui woodblocks were printed and reprinted both during his lifetime and post-mortem. When evaluating a Hasui woodblock, it is important to look carefully at the publisher seal, which will give a rough approximation for when the print in question was published, which can then be compared to when that print was originally published. Learn more about recognizing Watanabe-published editions here.