Sakamoto Hanjiro: Moon at Namino 波埜の月 First Edition

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Artist: Sakamoto Hanjiro (1882-1959)
Title: Moon at Namino 波埜の月  First Edition
Series: Five Views of Aso (Aso gokei 阿蘇五景)
Date: 1948 or 1950

We see a mysterious landscape of soft rolling hills, with otherworldly spires rising in the distance beneath a full, yellow moon. The white ring above one of the peaks seems to be vapors rising from the active volcano Mount Aso in Aso Kuji National Park in Kumamoto Prefecture on the island of Kyushu. Although Sakamoto was primarily known as an oil painter, Merritt notes that “although Sakamoto’s painting style was highly simplified, he sought even further simplification through woodblocks.” (page 100 of Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: The Early Years). The village of Namino no longer exists as an independent town, as it was merged with two other towns in 2003 to create the city of Aso.

According to Merritt, this series was first published in a limited edition of 300 in 1950 by Kuga Isao of Sōjinsha, with carving and printing at Katō Hanga Kenkyūsho under the supervision of Katō Junji. This work comes from that first edition. Merrit goes on to state that the series underwent a number of subsequent printings until 1971. This work is from the first edition, as it came with the envelope print that features two horses grazing, as known for the first edition, printed either in 1948 or 1950. (The cover print of horses is shown for reference and is not included with this print.)

Sakamoto Hanjirô met the pioneering sosaku artists Yamamoto Kanae and Ishii Tsuruzô at the beginning of his career, and subsequently he worked with them on Hôsun magazine from 1909-1911. Also in 1911 he published a collection of woodblock prints together with Yamamoto Kanae (Sōga Butai Sugata), and in 1918 he contributed five designs to Nihon fûkei hanga - Japan scenery prints. In recognition of his highly respected western-style oil paintings, he was awarded the the Order of cultural merit in 1956. 

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition.
Dimensions: oban (27.8 x 39.7 cm)
Seal: Sakamoto   Publisher: Kato Junji

References: Merritt and Yamada (1992) “Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975”, page 130. Merritt (1990)  “Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: The Early Years”, page 100.