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“Woman in a Summer Kimono” by Goyō Hashiguchi

"Woman in a Summer Kimono" by Goyō Hashiguchi

“Woman in a Summer Kimono”

by Goyō Hashiguchi

“Woman in a Summer Kimono” by Goyō Hashiguchi is a colour woodblock print, from 1920’s Japan. The artist, Goyo’s had a late call 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 Kitagawa Utamaro (1753 – 1806). The extraordinary beauty and technical excellence have made his prints among the most sought-after Japanese prints.

Goyō Hashiguchi’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 an Ukiyo-e tradition which Goyo has enthusiastically revived. The prints impact is also enhanced by him restricting his palette to a few primary colours. Hashiguchi had a short time 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 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.

Woodblock Printing

Woodblock printing is a technique for printing images or patterns used widely throughout East Asia. The method originated in China in antiquity as a method of printing on textiles and later paper. Woodblock printing existed during the 7th century AD and remained the most common East Asian method of printing books and images, 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 use of round “cylinder seals” for rolling an impress onto clay tablets goes back to early Mesopotamian civilisation before 3000 BC. A few larger brick stamps for marking clay bricks survive from Akkad from around 2270 BC. However none of these used ink, which is necessary for printing.

The earliest woodblock colour printing known is Chinese silk from 206 BC–220 AD printed in three colours. Colour is very common in Asian woodblock printing on paper. The earliest dated book printed in more than two colours 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-colour method spread more widely and was used for prints from the 1760s on.

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.


  • How closely do you equate woodblock printing to Japanese art?

Explore Goyō Hashiguchi

Woman in a Summer Kimono

  • Title:                  Woman in a Summer Kimono
  • Artist:                Goyō Hashiguchi
  • Published:         1920
  • Culture:              Japanese
  • Writing:              Japanese
  • Material:             Woodblock print on paper
  • Dimensions:       H: 45.2 cm (17.7 in); W: 29.8 cm (11.7 in)
  • Museum:            Walters Art Museum

Goyō Hashiguchi


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


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