Tsuchiya Koitsu and Japan art: Snow and serenity

Tsuchiya Kōitsu and Japan art: Snow and serenity

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Tsuchiya Kōitsu was born in 1870 and died in 1949 during the post-war period. Hence, one can only imagine this momentous period of Japanese history. From the modernization processes of Meiji and hope during the Taisho era – to the convulsions of nationalism, war, and the ultimate defeat of Japan. 

However, the artist Kōitsu witnessed these changes throughout his life. Yet, when viewing the delightful landscapes of Kōitsu and his art illuminated by countless snow scenes, it is difficult to imagine the enormous changes that engulfed Japan. 

He did depict the First Sino-Japanese War during his informative period. Thus traces of war and nationalism exist. However, the art of Kōitsu is remembered for his adorable landscapes, utilizing snow, his approach to light, and other important artistic angles.

The Koller Collection of Asian Art says, “He continued to produce lithographs until 1905, when he began to suffer from lung inflammation and work in the medium became potentially fatal. After abandoning lithography and working primarily in painting for nearly three decades, Kōitsu started designing more landscapes for woodblock prints (fukei-ga) in 1931. His return to printmaking is typically traced to the apocryphal meeting with esteemed print publisher Watanabe Shōzaburō (1885–1962) at a memorial exhibition commemorating Kiyochika.”

Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915) was his early mentor. Indeed, they worked together for just shy of 20 years. However, despite the influence of Kiyochika, his art is visibly different in various ways.

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