Reader Collection > Exhibitions > EYECATCHERS  100 Japanese flower-bird prints














Flowers and birds may catch our eye for a number of reasons. Some are brightly colored which makes them stand out from the background while others may have an unusual shape or size that we have not seen before. Birds both fly and interact and our eyes are naturally attracted to this movement. Printed pictures of flowers and birds which show these colors, shapes, sizes or action are equally appealing. One hundred examples of eye-catching Japanese flower-bird prints, chosen from the Reader Collection of Japanese Art, are included in this virtual exhibition. These prints are grouped by their primary eye-catching feature; namely, color, shape, size, action or unconventional view.


Color - The human eye and brain react more strongly to some colors than to others. Reds and yellows are perhaps the most eye-catching and, not surprisingly, many Japanese artists have chosen to depict species whose flowers, fruits or feathers are red or yellow. Pictures 1 to 7 provide some examples.

Some artists chose to alter the natural color of flowers, fruits, birds or the picture background to create something quite unexpected and, therefore, eye-catching. In pictures 8 to 11 the artist added extra red or yellow to the flowers or birds depicted while in pictures 12 and 13 extra yellow or red was added to the picture background.

Reducing or removing color to create contrast can be equally effective. Only blue and white is used in picture 14. In pictures 15 and 16 the artist blackened plant foliage to make other colors stand out while in pictures 17 to 20 the background was blackened for the same reason.

Combining black with white can also be very eye-catching as shown in picture 21. Another form of color contrast was created in picture 22 by adding patches of unusual colors to the background of a black-and-white line drawing. In picture 23 color matching rather than color contrast was used to catch the viewer’s eye.










1   Red color - torch azalea (Rhododendron kaempferi) and red-flanked bluetail (Tarsiger cyanurus) by Shizuo Ashikaga, 270 x 400 mm, woodblock


2   Red and yellow colors - heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) and narcissus flycatcher (Ficedula narcissina) by Shizuo Ashikaga, 270 x 400 mm, woodblock











3   Red and yellow colors - highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum) and northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) by Tōshi Yoshida, 500 x 300 mm, woodblock











4   Red and yellow colors - peach (Prunus persica), Chinese mustard (Brassica rapa), violet (Viola sp.), Chinese milk-vetch (Astragalus sinicus) and domestic fowl (Gallus gallus) by Gyōsan, 225 x 350 mm, woodblock



5   Red and yellow colors - florist’s chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum grandiflorum), lespedeza (Lespedeza sp.), balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus), scabious patrinia (Patrinia scabiosifolia), eulalia grass (Miscanthus sinensis) and red-crowned crane (Grus japonensis) by Gyōsan, 225 x 350 mm, woodblock











6   Red color - camellia (Camellia japonica) color variant and albino Java sparrow (Padda oryzivora) by Koson Ohara, 235 x 360 mm, woodblock


7   Red color - Japanese laurel (Aucuba japonica) and Java sparrow (Padda oryzivora) by Koson Ohara, 65 x 90 mm, woodblock












8   Extra red and yellow color - rose-of-sharon (Hibiscus syriacus) and Eurasian bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) by Waichi Hayashi, 330 x 240 mm, woodblock











9   Extra red and yellow color - Japanese wisteria (Wisteria floribunda) and rock dove (Columba livia) by Kyōzō Yamada, 415 x 295 mm, woodblock











10   Extra red and yellow color - grape (Vitis vinifera) and scops owl (Otus sp.) by Yoshiharu Kimura, 240 x 290 mm, woodblock


11   Extra red and yellow color - cherry (Prunus sp.) and scops owl (Otus sp.) by Yoshiharu Kimura, 225 x 300 mm, woodblock











12   Background with extra yellow - eulalia grass (Miscanthus sinensis) and large-billed crow (Corvus macrorhynchos) by Tsukasa Yoshida, 245 x 380 mm, woodblock


13   Background with extra red - cherry (Prunus sp.) and Java sparrow (Padda oryzivora) by Kōyō Nakagawa, 240 x 345 mm, woodblock












14   Reduced color - loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) and black-naped oriole (Oriolus chinesis) by Hiroshige Utagawa, 170 x 380 mm, woodblock












15   Blackened foliage - camellia (Camellia japonica) and Middendorf’s warbler (Locustella octotensis) by Rakusan Tsuchiya, 360 x 230 mm, woodblock











16   Blackened foliage – heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) and winter wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) by Beisen Kubota, 225 x 340 mm, woodblock












17   Blackened background – Japanese oak (Quercus serrata) and crimson rosella (Platycercus elegans) by Jakuchū Itō, 385 x 250 mm, woodblock





18   Blackened background - camellia (Camellia japonica) and Japanese white-eye (Zosterops japonicus) by Kōji Ikuta, 220 x 135 mm, mezzotint









19   Blackened background - plum (Prunus mume) and canary (Serinus canaria) by Hodō Nishimura, 240 x 370 mm, woodblock



20   Blackened background - Chinese trumpet-creeper (Campsis gandiflora) and cockatoo (Cacatua sp.) by Hodō Nishimura, 240 x 370 mm, woodblock











21   Contrasting black and white color – camellia (Camellia japonica), little egret (Egretta garzetta) and large-billed crow (Corvus macrorhynchos) by Koryūsai Isoda, 210 x260 mm, woodblock












22   Patches of unusual colors - hellebore (Veratrum grandiflorum), Kamchatka globeflower (Trollius riederianus), bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), Japanese trout lily (Erythronium japonicum), twinflower (Linnaea borealis), chickweed wintergreen (Trientalis europea), Japanese wintergreen (Pyrola japonica) and rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta) by Fumio Kitaoka, 545 x 395 mm, woodblock











23   Matching colors - Japanese dogwood (Cornus kousa) and Japanese white-eye (Zosterops japonicus) by Hidetaka Yamanaka, 235 x 175 mm, mezzotint






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