seems to have first exhibited his works with the Nihon Sôsaku Hanga Kyôkai (Japanese Creative Print Association: 日本創作版画協会) in 1929.* Nozaki also contributed two prints (see Design section below) to the short-lived dôjin zasshi (coterie magazine: 同人雑誌) titled Kitsutsuki (Woodpecker: きつつき) published in only three issues (July 1930, Sept. 1930, June 1931).** A few years later, in 1934, he embarked on providing designs for the series Tokyo hyakkei sôsaku hanga shû (Creative print collection of 100 views of Tokyo: 東京百景創作版画集), published by Nakajima Jûtarô of the Sôsaku Hanga Kurabu (Creative Prints Club: 創作版画クラブ).
* The Nihon Sôsaku Hanga Kyôkai, founded in June 1918, was formed to disseminate information about the art of wood carving and engraving, promote the print arts through exhibitions, lobby to have prints exhibited at the Teikoku Bijutsu Tenrankai (Imperial Art Academy Exhibition: 帝國美術展覧會 often called simply Teiten or Imperial Exhibition, 帝展), and establish a Department of Engraving at the Tokyo Academy of Fine Arts. All these objectives were eventually achieved.
** The magazine title Kitsutsuki or "Woodpecker" was probably intended to serve as a humorous metaphor for an artist carving woodblocks bit by bit. The eight artists serving as editors for the Kitsutsuki art portfolios were Fujimori Shizuo (藤森静雄 1891-1943), Fukazawa Sakuichi (深沢索一 1896-1947), Henmi Takashi (逸見享 1895-1944), Hiratsuka Un'ichi (平塚運一 1895-1997), Kawakami Sumio (川上澄生 1895-1972), Maekawa Senpan (前川千帆 1885- 1977), Onchi Kôshirô (恩地孝四郎 1891-1955), and Suwa Kanenori (諏訪兼紀 1897-1932).
The scene here is near the Kyôbashi, a neighborhood east of today's Tokyo Station in Chûô, Tokyo. It is one of the city's oldest commercial districts. The name Kyôbashi ("Capital Bridge") comes from a bridge that once spanned the Kyôbashi-bori (Kyôbashi Canal: 京橋堀). The south side of the canal was called Take-gashi (Bamboo yards: 竹がし) because it was bamboo wholesalers' area. Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) depicted this locale from a very different vantage point in a much-admired woodblock print titled Kyôbashi Takegashi (Bamboo yards at Kyôbashi: 京橋竹がし) from 12/1857, a design from his series Meisho Edo hyakkei (100 famous views of Edo: 名所江戸百景).
Nozaki's design was published in 1930 in vol. 2 of the aforementioned Kitsutsuki. Pedestrians, a solitary automobile, trees, and buildings are rendered with simplified forms, primarily in silhouette. The human figures all appear to be wearing Western clothing, a common attribute of city life during the opening years of the Shôwa period (昭和 1926-89). The long shadows cast by the street lights and the somewhat mysterious human figures lend an air of drama to the scene.
It is easy to see why this evocative print has been illustrated in various books published in Japan featuring sôsaku hanga artists. The night scene captures the incandescent illumination and the movements of pedestrians in a modern city where a new urban aesthetic continued to evolve at the start of the third decade of the twentieth century. Without the specificity of faces or individualized clothing, the silhouettes invite the viewer to imagine who these people were, what they looked like, and where they were going.
- Kaji Sachiko (加治辛子, compiled by): Sôsaku hanga-shi no keifu • sô mokuji oyobi sakuhin zuhan teiten 1904-1944 (Genealogy of creative-print magazines • Complete table of contents and illustrated artworks 1905-1944: 創作版画誌の系譜 • 総目次及び作品図版 1905-1944 年). Tokyo: Chûkôron Bijutsu Shuppan, 2008.
- Merritt, Helen and Yamada, Nanako: Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints, 1900-1975. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1992, pp. 206-207.