Hasegawa's Night Scenes

The Hasegawa Publishing & Co. (also known as Hasegawa-Nishinomiya Publisher), was founded in 1885 by Takejiro Hasegawa whose original family name was Nishinomiya. In the 1930s his son and successor, Yosaku Nishinomiya, reverted the company name back to the original family name of Nishinomiya. T. Hasegawa is perhaps best known for his production of woodblock printed illustrated fairy tale chirimen-bon (crepe-paper books) during the Meiji Period (1868-1912).

Hasegawa’s Night Scenes series of twenty-one chuban prints illustrates evening views evocative of traditional Japan in a limited palette of sepia or blue and appears to have been originally issued in the 1910s, although Nishinomiya seems to have continued to produce the simple nocturnes in the same format into the 1930s. There are later post-war editions which are identified by thicker paper and the addition of margins with publishing information. The collaborative series included the work of Shoda Koho, Arai Yoshimune, Kiyochika Kobayashi, Gyosui Suzuki, and Eijiro Kobayashi. However, the was little emphasis placed on the individual artists; sometimes the artist seals are lacking, or even replaced by the spurious signature Hiroshige, clearly in an effort to dupe a hasty buyer. A 1920s catalogue issued by Hasegawa-Nishinomiya illustrates each of the twenty-one designs with titles but without identifying the artist for each work. For many of the artists in this series little is known beyond their work for Hasegawa or as part of this series.