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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Goyō Hashiguchi

Goyō Hashiguchi

Goyō Hashiguchi

Goyō Hashiguchi (1880 – 1921) was an artist in Japan who’s perfectionism led to him publishing only a handful of prints, each one technically excellent with a nostalgic passion for the art form. The exceptional wood cutting of the blocks to portray the intricacies of women’s hair was a Ukiyo-e tradition that Goyo has enthusiastically revived. The prints’ impact is also enhanced by him restricting his palette to a few primary colors. Hashiguchi had a short period of only two years to produce these superb masterworks before he died aged forty-two.

Goyo Hashiguchi was a samurai and a Shijo-style painter who was a perfectionist and who set up his own workshop a few years before his death. His standards were so high that most of his editions ran to no more than eighty prints. Goyo died having completed only 14 prints (13 plus one published by Watanabe), later members of Goyo’s family brought some of his unfinished works to completion.

A Tour of Goyō Hashiguchi’s Art

  • Woman in Blue Combing Her Hair
    • “Woman in Blue Combing Her Hair” by Goyō Hashiguchi is a color woodblock print, from 1920’s Japan. It depicts a Japanese woman combing her long black hair while wearing a blue patterned kimono. The artist, Goyo, had a late calling to traditional Japanese Woodblock Printing after a career of illustration in other media. He was inspired by the old techniques and admiration for the great portraits of beautiful women by Kitagawa Utamaro (1753 – 1806). Museum:  Walters Art Museum
  • Geisha Hisae with a Towel
    • “Geisha Hisae with a Towel” by Goyō Hashiguchi, who had a late calling to the traditional woodblock print after a career of illustration in other media. He was inspired by the old techniques and admiration for the great portraits of beautiful women by the traditional Edo period masters of woodblock printing.
  • Woman Applying Color to Her Lips
    • “Woman Applying Color to Her Lips” by Goyō Hashiguchi is one of only a handful of prints published by the artist, each one technically excellent with a nostalgic passion for the art of the period. The exceptional wood cutting of the black blocks to portray the intricacies of women’s hair was a Ukiyo-e tradition that Goyo has enthusiastically revived.
  • Woman Powdering Her Neck
    • “Woman Powdering Her Neck” by Goyō Hashiguchi is a color woodblock print, in which the artist restricted his palette to a few colors to achieve a significant impact in simplicity. Hashiguchi had a short period of only two years to produce these superb masterworks, apart from his first print published with Watanabe before he died aged forty-two.
  • Hotspring Hotel – Onsen yado
    • “Hotspring Hotel” – “Onsen yado” by Goyō Hashiguchi is an exceptional example of woodcutting techniques of the blocks to portray the intricacies of women’s hair was an Ukiyo-e tradition which Goyo has enthusiastically revived. The prints’ impact is also enhanced by Goyō Hashiguchi, restricting his palette to a few primary colors.
  • Waitress with a Red Tray
    • “Waitress with a Red Tray” by Goyō Hashiguchi was inspired by the old techniques and admiration for the great portraits of beautiful women by Kitagawa Utamaro. The extraordinary beauty and technical excellence have made his prints among the most sought-after Japanese prints.
  • Woman after the Bath – Yokujo no Onna
    • “Woman after the Bath” by Goyō Hashiguchi i is a color woodblock print, created by a samurai and a Shijo-style painter who was a perfectionist and who set up his own workshop a few years before his death. His standards were so high that most of his editions ran to no more than eighty prints. Goyo died having completed only 14 prints.
  • Woman Dressing in a Long Undergarment
    • “Woman Dressing in a Long Undergarment” by Goyō Hashiguchi is in a long vertical format created for the depiction of a standing Japanese woman caught in the act of tying her kimono. Her black hair is expertly depicted in greater detail than any other part of the figure.
  • Woman Folding Kimono
    • “Woman in a Summer Kimono” by Goyō Hashiguchi is a color woodblock print, in the style that has come to define the Japanese national aesthetic. The techniques used by this artist became essential to many Japanese artists, whose printed images became among the most celebrated famous works in Japan. The aesthetics of modern-day manga and anime are directly descended from woodblock prints.
  • Woman in a Summer Kimono
    • “Woman in a Summer Kimono” by Goyō Hashiguchi is a woodblock print in the traditional Japanese style. A style that influenced in earlier periods not just Goyō Hashiguchi but also many French Impressionists who were inspired by Japanese woodblock prints and their vibrancy of color and light.
  • Woman Washing Her Face
    • “Woman Washing Her Face” by Goyō Hashiguchi is the evolution of the earliest woodblock color printing in Chinese silk from 200s AD printed in three colors. Colour is very common in Asian woodblock printing on paper. The earliest dated book printed in more than two colors is a book printed in 1606, and the technique reached its height in books on art published in the first half of the 17th century. In Japan, a multi-color method spread more widely and was used for prints from the 1760s on.

Goyō Hashiguchi

Woodblock Printing

Woodblock printing is a technique for printing images or patterns used throughout East Asia. The method originated in China as a method of printing on textiles and later paper. Woodblock printing emerged during the 7th century AD and remained the most common method of printing books and images in East Asian until the 19th century. Ukiyo-e is the best-known type of Japanese woodblock art print.

Before the invention of woodblock printing, seals and stamps were used for making impressions. The oldest of these seals came from Mesopotamia and Egypt. The earliest woodblock color printing known is Chinese silk from 206 BC–220 AD printed in three colors. The earliest dated book printed in more than two colors is a book printed in 1606, and the technique reached its height in books on art published in the first half of the 17th century.

In Japan, woodblock printing came to define the national aesthetic. These techniques became important to Japanese artists, and printed images became among the most celebrated famous works. The aesthetics of modern-day manga and anime are directly descended from woodblock prints.

A Tour of Artists and their Art

Japanese Idioms, Quotes, and Proverbs

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“Wake from death and return to life.”

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“Pulling water to my rice paddy.”

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“An apprentice near a temple will recite the scriptures untaught.”

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“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”

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“Giving birth to a baby is easier than worrying about it.”

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“Evil cause, evil effect.”

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“Ten men, ten colors.”

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“An apprentice near a temple will recite the scriptures untaught.”

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“One’s act, one’s profit.”

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“One life, one encounter.”

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“The weak are meat; the strong eat.”

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“Ocean thousand mountain thousand.”

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Different body, same mind.”

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“Not knowing is Buddha.”

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“Beautiful person, thin life.”

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“Spilt water will not return to the tray.”

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“Work of self, obtainment of self.”

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“If you do not enter the tiger’s cave, you will not catch its cub.”

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“Child of a frog is a frog.”

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“Even monkeys fall from trees.”

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“Gold coins to a cat.”

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“A frog in a well does not know the great sea.”

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“Unless an idiot dies, he won’t be cured.”

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“One who chases after two hares won’t catch even one.”

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“Dumplings rather than flowers.”

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“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”
– Japanese Proverb

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Photo Credit: 1) Goyō Hashiguchi [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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