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Kawanishi Hide (川西英)

Kugatsu Suwayama mangetsu (Ninth month: Full moon over Suwa Hill: 九月 諏訪山満月) from the series Kobe juni-ke tsuki fûkei (Twelve monthly scenes of Kobe: 神戸十ニヶ月風景)
Signed "Hide" (英) in block at lower right margin
Artist seal: Hide (ひで) below block signature at lower right margin
Self-carved, self-printed (自刻 自摺)
(H x W)
Sôsaku hanga woodblock print
16.4 x 27.9 cm
Excellent, with hand coloring
Excellent color, full size, unbacked; No condition issues of note
Price (USD/¥):
$825 / Contact us to pay in yen (¥)

Order/Inquiry: Ref #KWN25


Kawanishi Hide (川西英), 1894-1965, whose given name was Hideo, was born and worked in Kobe, an international port city that inspired much of his subject matter. He was employed as a postmaster, but his ancestors were merchants, particularly traders in several alcoholic spirits, sake (酒 or nihonshu 日本酒), mirin (味醂), and shôchû (焼酎), which they transported to Tokyo in their fleet of ships. Kawanishi's family opposed his becoming involved in painting and printmaking. A self-taught artist, Kawanishi started painting in oils, but turned to woodblock printmaking after seeing a print by Yamamoto Kanae (A small bay in Brittany) displayed in a shop window in Osaka. He was not interested in ukiyo-e, although Nagasaki-e naturally fascinated him, with its exotic ships and foreign traders. Gradually abandoning oils, Kawanishi fell under the influence of the Art Deco poster style of the 1920s and first exhibited prints in 1923 with the Nihon Sôsaku Hanga Kyôkai (Japan Creative Print Association 日本創作版画協会 founded 1918). Other influences were Takehisa Yumeji (竹久夢二), Onchi Kôshirô (恩地孝四郎), Yamamoto Kanae (山本鼎), and European artists such as Lautrec, Gaugin, Van Gogh, Leger, and Matisse.

Kawanishi used poster colors and sumi (Japanese carbon black, i.e., soot, water, and glue), cutting his blocks with a curved chisel to obtain soft edges. He used katsura or ho wood, and printed on hodomura paper. He produced a large number of single-sheet designs (possibly as many as 1,000), as well as printed albums and books, and sets or series. The latter included Shôwa bijin fûzoku jûnitai (Twelve customs of beauties from the Shôwa era), 1929; Kobe jûnigagetsu fûkei (Scenes of Kobe during the twelve months), 1931; and Hanga Kobe hyakkei (Prints of one hundred views of Kobe), 1935. Kawanishi was awarded the Hyôgo Prefecture Culture Prize (1949) and the Kobe Shinbun Peace Prize (1962). His son Kawanishi Yûzaburô (1923-2014) worked in his father's style, but with more international subjects.

For more about this artist, see Kawanishi Biography.


This design, titled Suwayama mangetsu (Full moon over Suwa Hill, 諏訪山満月), is no. 9 from Kawanishi's series Kobe juni-ke tsuki fûkei (Twelve monthly scenes of Kobe: 神戸十ニヶ月風景). These twelve views are highly prized as the earliest series by Kawanishi. Notably, many of the colors were applied by hand. Designs from the set are rarely encountered, and they served, in effect, as the forerunner to the far more familiar Kôbe hyakkei (One Hundred Views of Kobe: 神戸百景) published five years later. The series was advertised in a Kobe newspaper where the titles of all twelve views were announced and a price per print of one yen, fifty sen was cited (around $14.50 U.S.). All 12 prints with a cover came to ¥15. Orders could be placed directly with Kawanishi by contacting him at his home address, Ni-chome, Higashidemachi, Kobe City.

Mount Suwa (Suwa-yama, 諏訪山) is in the Rokkô Mountains (Rokkôsanchi, 六甲山地), Kobe City, Hyogo Prefecture. A vantage point from atop the hill would have provided a wide view of the scene below; however, Kawanishi's design suggests a much lower height on Suwayama that offers a nearly straight-on level perspective of the bay with the "Harvest moon" (Chûshû no meigetsu, 中秋の名月) illuminating the scene.

Note: There is partial hand-coloring (including the moon and its reflection, and all the small clothing details) that combines with woodblock printing (the three swaths of color for the sky, sea, and ground, as well as the right margin). Thus, at least to some degree, this is a unique impression, as would be the other impressions from the series. Given the few sets made, it was easier to use hand-coloring than carve color blocks for tiny details. Other prints by Kawanshi from the early 1930s also exhibit hand coloring.


  • D'Orlando, A., de Vries, M, Uhlenbeck, C. and Wessels, E.: Nostalgia and Modernity: The Styles of Komura Settai and Kawanishi Hide. Amsterdam: Nihon no Hanga, spring 2012 (exhibition cat.).
  • Kawanishi Hide, Gashû "Kôbe hyakkei" Kawanishi Hide ga aishita fûkei (Collected pictures, "100 Scenes of Kobe," favorite scenes of Kawanishi Hide: 画集『神戸百景』川西英が愛した風景), 2008.
  • Kobe City Koiso Memorial Museum of Art: (Kawanishi Hide, the retrospective. 120th anniversary of his birth (Kobe shiritsu Koiso kinen bijutsukan (神戸市立小磯記念美術館), Kawanishi hide kaiko ten — Seitan ichihyakunijû nen (川西回顧展 生誕120年). Kobe: 2014, p. 46, series no. 31, cat. no. 31-9.
  • Uhlenbeck, C., Newland, A.R., de Vries, M.: Waves of renewal: modern Japanese prints, 1900 to 1960, Selections from the Nihon no hanga collections, Amsterdam. Hotei Publishing, 2016, pp. 240-246.