June 2002 - Shiro Kasamatsu's "Spring Night on Ginza" Re-issued by Watanabe

The Watanabe Publishing House began in early 2002 to reprint five Hasui designs from the original blocks, which were followed by a further five Hasui reprints in June 2002. Together with this second batch Watanabe also reprinted Shiro Kasamatsu's "Spring Night on Ginza", (1934), which certainly belonges among the finest woodblock prints Kasamatsu ever had designed. This well-known print has been widely sought after by collectors, with early original editions (recognized via the Watanabe "C" seal on the margins) often changing hands at $1,500 or more.

Now this newly released edition, made from the original woodblocks and printed by master artisans, offers the chance to own this beautiful print at much lower prices. As with all later editions published by Watanabe, the print carries a round black 7mm seal within the image area and the red "Heisei"-seal on its margin.

This print shows a 1934 night scene on Ginza, which was and still is one of Tokyo's centers for shopping, dining and entertainment. Although the precise location within the Ginza District is not clear, our best guess is nearby the so-called "Ginza-Crossing" in the vicinity of the Wako and Mitsukoshi Department stores.

The bright lantern displays in red characters "Higashi Odori," which however in this context is pronounced "Azuma Odori," a typical dance festival.

The foodstall (with a customer hidden behind the dark curtain) offers "sushi," sliced raw fish on vinegar rice. Sushi, in Japanese characters, is written in the traditional style from right to the left.

Of interest is the "clothing habits" exhibited. While the females are dressed in traditional kimonos, the men are seet to follow the fashion of western clothes!

All in all, a masterpiece which showes bustling pre-War Tokyo in the nighttime hours.

"Spring Night at Ginza," 1934 (Showa 9)

(Grund W-15, Watanabe SK7)


(C) Andreas Grund and Thomas Crossland 2002