Asano Takeji 浅野竹二 (1900-1999) was born in Kyoto and graduated from the Kyoto City School of Fine Arts and Crafts in 1919 and the Kyoto City Specialist School of Painting in 1923. He studied Western oil painting and later Japanese-style painting with Bakusen Tsuchida (1887-1936). After becoming interesed in woodblock printing through a course at Gasendo in Kyoto given by Hiratsuka Un'ichi (1895-1997), Asano produced both shin hanga ("new prints," i.e., neo-ukiyo-e: 新版画) and sôsaku hanga ("creative prints," i.e., self-carved and self-printed: 創作版画). He was an exceptionally skilled block cutter, and taught both carving and printing until the age of 97. Asano participated in the formation of the Kyoto Sôsaku Hanga Kyôkai (Kyoto Creative Print Society) in 1929. Besides the series Shin Osaka fukei ("New views of Osaka"), other examples included a self-carved, self-printed series of nine prints titled Kinki meisho fûkei ("Famous views in the Kyoto-Osaka area"). Beginning in the 1950s he designed a large number of shin hanga prints for the Unsodo Publishing company. According to one of his disciples, Fumio Machida, Asano told his students, "Don''t complicate your drawing. Eliminate all unnecessary things but leave the essence."* Asano's personal archive of sketchbooks, printmaking tools, carved blocks, and prints are now in the collection of Kyoto Seika University.
There are eight known images in the series Shin Osaka fûkei no uchi (Series of new views of Osaka: 新大坂風景之内). Asano's depiction of Kitahama under a blanket of snow is another of his fine designs self-published before the Second World War. Note the expressive use of wood grain in the sky and the Hiroshige-like vanishing-point perspective of distant buildings and a modern bridge spanning the river, as seen from beneath a wooden bridge in the foreground, which serves to frame the scene.
Occasionally first edition impressions lack dates in the left margin, as with our impression. Other impressions of Kitahama include the year 1932.
For other designs from this series, see ASA01 and ASA02.
References: *KIWA News No. 3, November 2000, Kyoto International Woodprint Association, p. 6.