Reader Collection > Exhibitions > Japanese Sōsaku Hanga: Bird Prints














Sōsaku hanga (i.e., creative art print) is the name given to a style of Japanese printed art that was first practiced in the early 1900s. This style was then new in two ways. First, artists “created” new objects by intentionally changing the shape and (or) color of real objects in an attempt to distance themselves from traditional Japanese artistic styles in which objects were drawn in a more true-to-life way. Second, artists tackled all three steps in the process of making a woodblock print (i.e., drawing the picture design, transferring the design to a block of wood and then printing the design). Previously the artist had only provided the picture design. This design had then been passed to another person who was skilled at transferring the design to the surface of a block of wood (i.e., block cutter) and finally on to a third person (i.e., the printer) who was skilled at adding ink to the surface of the woodblock, followed by a piece of paper, and rubbing the back of the paper to transfer the design to paper. By taking complete control of the printmaking process the sōsaku hanga artist could be creative not only at the design step in the process by also in the block cutting and printing steps as well.

Birds were one of the many objects chosen for depiction by sōsaku hanga artists. The first sōsaku hanga bird print was made in the late 1920s by Un’ichi Hiratsuka. During the next fifty years an additional forty-five  sōsaku hanga artists made about 750 bird prints. Examples of the bird prints made by thirty sōsaku hanga artists are included in this virtual exhibition. These examples were chosen from sōsaku hanga in the Reader Collection of Japanese Art. For each of the thirty prints, the following information is provided: name of the bird(s) depicted, if identifiable, artist name, print title, if any, and print size.

Additional Reading

Keyes, Roger. 1988. Break with the Past: the Japanese Creative Print Movement. University of Washington Press, Seattle.

Merritt, Helen. 1990. Modern Japanese Woodblock prints, the Early Years. University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu.

Volk, Alicia. 2005. Made in Japan, the Postwar Creative Print Movement. University of Washington Press, Seattle.










1   Unidentified bird by Un’ichi Hiratsuka, print entitled fairy tale bird, 145 x 180 mm



2   Unidentified bird by Fujio Nishitani, 180 x 240 mm











3   Unidentified bird by Yoshio Kanamori, 110 x 75 mm



4   Unidentified bird by Takeji Asano, print entitled bird and fruit, 400 x 295 mm









5   Unidentified bird by Yasuhide Kobashi, print entitled birds at night, 195 x 255 mm




6   Unidentified bird by Fumio Fujita, print entitled bird picture, 320 x 445 mm











7   Unidentified bird by Umetarō Azechi, 130 x 110 mm



8   Unidentified bird by Hideo Hagiwara, 175 x 125 mm









9   Unidentified bird by Rokushū Mizufune, 110 x 125 mm




10   Unidentified bird by Fumio Kitaoka, print entitled flower and bird, 165 x 240 mm











11   Unidentified bird by Tamami Shima, print entitled resting birds, 425 x 585 mm



12   Unidentified bird by Shirō Takagi, print entitled small birds, 285 x 425 mm











13   Azure-winged magpie (Cyanopica cyana) by Tomoo Inagaki, 440 x 560 mm




14   Crane (Grus sp.) by Tadashi Nakayama, 440 x 660 mm











15   Dove (Columba livia) by Makoto Ueno, 635 x 485 mm



16   Dove (Columba livia) by Kunihiro Amano, print entitled dove, 385 x 280 mm









17   Dove (Columba livia) by Jun'ichirō Sekino, 180 x 140 mm



18   Large-billed crow (Corvus macrorhynchos) by Tadashige Ono, print entitled shallow beach, 235 x 155 mm









19   Large-billed crow (Corvus macrorhynchos) by Akyio Onda, 300 x 340 mm




20   Large-billed crow (Corvus macrorhynchos) by Yoichi Nakano, print entitled crow (B), 180 x 180 mm











21   Domestic fowl (Gallus gallus) by Kaoru Kawano, 430 x 285 mm



22   Domestic fowl (Gallus gallus) by Tomikichirō Tokuriki, 410 x 270 mm









23   Domestic fowl (Gallus gallus) by Shun'ichi Kadowaki, print entitled self-carved woodcut rooster, 240 x 275 mm




24   Scops owl (Otus sp.) by Manjirō Asaka, print entitled owl, 280 x 400 mm











25   Scops owl (Otus sp.) by Masahiro Hayashi, print entitled smile bags of paradise, 640 x 480 mm



26   Scops owl (Otus sp.) and hawk (Accipiter sp.) by Shiko Munakata, 340 x 310 mm









27   Ural owl (Strix uralensis) by Kan Kozaki, 200 x 250 mm



28   Scops owl (Otus sp.) by Iwao Akiyama, print entitled winter wind, 250 x 300 mm











29   Scops owl (Otus sp.) by Morikazu Maeda, 150 x 125 mm



30   Scops owl (Otus sp.) by Yoshiharu Kimura, print entitled scops owl, 370 x 335 mm


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