Ochigaki (Fallen Persimmons)

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Ochigaki (Fallen Persimmons)


Tsuda Seifu





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Brief Notes on Book

24.6 X 17.8 cm. Orihon folding albums of color woodblock printed and overprinted in saturated color and metallic inks


Zuan-cho were design idea books published for the Japanese kimono trade. Published mainly in Kyoto between the 1890s up until the first years of WWII, they were reference works for textile designers, kimono drapers and their high-end customers. The books were created by some of Japan’s greatest artists, as well as anonymous artists, and as time went on, an increasing number of professional designers. Published mainly in Kyoto between the 1890s up until the first years of WWII, they were sophisticated productions, boldly designed and lavishly executed. Crossing the boundaries between craft and fine art, they were incredibly labor intensive -- printed with hand-carved woodblocks and bound by hand. The printers used techniques and materials--such as embossing, overprinting, metallic powders and thickly applied pigments--to achieve texture, depth and painterly effects. Print runs were small, often just 100 copies, and many of the most spectacular and unusual were not commercial successes and never reprinted. Most disappeared into the design libraries of textile houses, where they were used and reused as inspiration for generations of designers.

Ochigaki (an alternative pronunciation is Ragaku) is one of the rarest titles, of Tsuda Seifu (1880 to 1978), one of the most gifted and exciting young designers of his day. This was his last work of zuan. The next year – 1907 – he traveled to Paris, where he studied Western oil painting. Upon his return to Japan in 1911, he moved to Tokyo and began painting in a more traditional style. Many of his zuan, including Ochigaki, were featured in a retrospective, “Seifu Tsuda: The Disobedient Painter – Works from the Meiji, Taisho and Showa Eras,” at the Nerima Art Museum in Tokyo in 2020.


Lisa Pevtzow




Tsuda Seifu, “Ochigaki (Fallen Persimmons),” Caxton Club Exhibits, accessed July 26, 2021, https://caxtonclub.omeka.net/items/show/21.