Within Japanese Art, Eisen Tomioka was a woodblock print artist, particularly known for his work in the kuchi-e and sashi-e genres. These prints were front pieces for books and magazines respectively, and his renditions were extremely popular at the time. He was a typical Meiji Era ukiyo-e artist. In a time where the art form had sharply declined, many artists were driven to illustrate for the publishing industry.
Eisen moved to Tokyo when he was eighteen to become a full time artist and began studying under Kobayashi Eitaku. However, he ended up taking a job in the army to keep himself afloat financially. Alongside his work as an artist, he was a draughtsman at the office of the army general staff. In 1890, when his mentor Eitaku died, he finally became a full-time independent artist. His success was evidenced by his prints’ popularity and the high pay his publishers allegedly paid him. This lead up to his award of a silver medal at the first joint Japan Art Institute and Japan Painting Association joint exhibition, and he became a judge for future exhibitions. Despite his shift toward painting in his final years, Eisen passed away at the young age of 41, before he could realise his ambition of being recognized, in his eyes, as a ‘real’ artist.