a case of the Hasui Kawase blues

Mt. Fuji and Kawai Bridge (1947)


For a little over a year, I’ve been sharing children’s book illustrations on Facebook every day. The best part is learning about so many new-to-me artists. In my online travels, I often stumble upon pieces I love that are not by children’s book illustrators, but prompt me to explore further.

This was the case with Japanese master woodblock printmaker Hasui Kawase (1883-1957), one of the most prominent artists of the shin-hanga (“new prints”) movement. Though I know very little about Japanese art, Hasui’s work spoke to me instantly. Such exquisite understated beauty! So peaceful and calming!

Mt. Fuji After Snow (1932)


Born in Tokyo, he studied both Japanese and European painting techniques and is known as the “Master of Snow.” He liked to travel around Japan, sketching and making watercolors of scenic landscapes and townscapes, upon which he based his prints. The shin-hanga movement focused on traditional themes (landscapes, famous places, beautiful women, birds and flowers) but incorporated Western elements (effects of light, expression of moods).

Evening Snow at Edo River (1932)


Hasui considered himself a realist, and his prints express a certain longing for a bygone Japan during a time of rapid social and cultural change. His work is characterized by its delicacy, restraint, and flawless composition.

Since this is my THINK BLUE year, today I’m sharing some of my favorite Hasui prints with blue as the predominant color. Bask in the serenity of his world. Deep breaths . . .

Moon Over Akebi Bridge (1935)


Full Moon and Cherry Blossom at Matsuyama Castle (1953)


Karikachi Pass (1927)



Lake Hachirogata, Akita (1927)


Moon at Megome (1930)


Omori Coast (1930)


Spring Moon at Ninomiya Beach (1932)


Muroto Peninsula in Tosa Province (1927)


Night Rain at Omiya (1930)


Ushibori Ferry (1930)


Pagoda at Honmon Temple, Ikegami (1954)


Snow in Mukojima (1931)


Cloudy Day in Mizuki (1946)


Twin Island at Matsushima (1941)


Rain at Nissaka (1942)


Kankai Pavilion at Wakaura Beach (1950)



Twilight at Itako (1930)


Snow at Shinkawabata (1935)


Early Summer Rain, Arakawa (1932)




Copyright © 2018 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.




28 thoughts on “a case of the Hasui Kawase blues

  1. these are exquisite, Jama! and what could be more perfect for your Blue Year? Thank you for introducing me to this master’s art!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s been fascinating learning more about Japanese woodblock printing. Didn’t realize that actually three people are involved — one designs, another carves, and a third does the printing.


  2. I had never heard of this Japanese artist, but now I’m obsessed! Where can I find out more? Thank you as always for broadening my horizons, sharing such great information about food and books and art, and for making me shop. LOL

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  3. Well, I always love moon pictures, and these are exquisite. But if I were choosing one to keep, I think I would choose “Snow in Mukojima”. It feels as if I could step into that scene, wonder if the man in the boat is going out into the cold. I also love the preciseness of “Cloudy Day in Mizuki”, that mother and child out for the day. Thanks, Jama, love the connection you found to “blue”.

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    1. Great choices, Linda — his snow pictures are indeed beautiful, as are his moon ones. That mother and child going out to the beach is wonderful too.


  4. Exquisite and stunning! I am amazed at his mastery of lighting. I am absolutely drawn in by his moonlit scenes, but shiver at his “Rain at Nissaka” and “Cloudy Day in Mizuki”. Thank you Jama for making my Tuesday tranquil!

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  5. I kept looking at this, wondering why it seemed so vaguely familiar… I have a coloring book which has one of these prints in it – and now I hesitate to color it, as my blues will definitely not be as fine. This is lovely.

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  6. Thanks for sharing these, Jama! They have a peaceful, meditative quality. I love the calmness of the colors, the moon and the snow. The one on Ninomiya beach is my favorite :). Just gorgeous!

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