Kyosai Kawanabe, Fujikawa, Painting and Calligraphy from the 53 Stations of the Tokaido

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Artist: Kyosai Kawanabe (1831-1889)
Title: Fujikawa - Mikawa Province
Series title: Painting and Calligraphy from the 53 Stations of the Tokaido
Publisher: Sawamuraya
Date: 1872
Size: 22.5 x 35.2 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print.

Tokaido was the most important travel route between the city of Edo and the capital Kyoto. Along this road were numerous stations or posts that offered refreshments and lodging for travellers. Tokaido was a favourite subject in woodblock prints produced in the Edo period and frequently associated with events or characters, as is also the case in this series. The main title is within the red cartouche to the right, and below that in the lower right corner a green pillar-shaped cartouche identifies the station name and prefecture with an explanation of the main image. The telegraph pole along the right margin seems to announce the beginning of the new Meiji era, with new technologies being adapted at a fast pace throughout the country.

Kyosai Kawanabe


Kyosai was born in Shimosa province to a samurai family in the Edo period. He studied as a child under Kuniyoshi Utagawa, then later in the Kano school. His distinguished painting, largely in the late-Kano manner, includes some excellent bird studies and is often marked by a wild, eccentric humour. He left many lively sketches of great dexterity of draughtsmanship. He was also a skilled woodblock print artist, some of his most iconic ukiyo-e prints included ravens, in a bold, simple style, and caricatures full of fantasy and invention. His work mirrored his life in its wild and undisciplined nature, and occasionally reflected his love of drink. He compensated with a fantastic exuberance, which always lent interest to his technically excellent drawing skills.

Although Kyosai was not a pupil of Hokusai, many consider him his successor. There is a similar sense of frenetic movement and playful within both artists work, but where Hokusai can convey quiet reverence, Kyosai’s work leant into chaos, caricature and comedy.

Kyosai exhibited at the Vienna International Exposition in 1873 and in Paris in 1883. He continues to be popular among contemporary audiences globally, and is well sought after in the Japanese antiques market.

More Information
Print FormatOban (Vertical)
ArtistKyosai Kawanabe
SubjectLandscapes, Others
Dimensions22.5 x 35.2 cm
Condition ReportTrimmed, partly colour running.