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Biography: FUKAZAWA Sakuichi (深沢索一)

Fukazawa Sakuichi: Café district in Shinjuku
Shinjuku kafe gai (新宿カフェ街)
Woodcut, October 1930

"Saku" seal (索) "Saku" seal (索)
Fukazawa Sakuichi signature


Azechi Umetaro mountaineer with birdFukazawa Sakuichi ((深沢索一 1896-1947), born in Niigata prefecture, attended the Tokyo Central School of Commerce and Industry. From around 1918 he began studying woodblock printing with the help of Suwa Kanenori, and by 1922 he was exhibiting at the Nihon Sôsaku Hanga Kyôkai (Japan Creative Print Association: 日本創作版画協会). He was also active in contributing to dôjin zasshi (coterie art magazines: 同人雑誌), especially Minato (港 "Harbor," 1926-1927) and its successor Kaze (風 "Wind," 1927-28). He was a founding member of the Nihon Hanga Kyôkai (Japan Print Association: 日本洋画協会) in 1931 and an associate on the magazine Han (版 "Print," 1928-29) with Hiratsuka Un'ichi, Azechi Umetarô, and Munakata Shikô.

Fukazawa was active in contributing to dôjin zasshi (coterie art magazines: 同人雑誌). These included Shi to hanga (Poetry and Prints: 詩と版画 1922-c. 1925) vols. 9, 11; HANGA (1924-1930) vols. 1, 3, 8-11, 13-15; Minato (Harbor: 港 1926-1927), and its successor Kaze (Wind: 風 first series 1927-28) vol. 3; and Mura no hanga (Village Prints: 村の版画 1932-1935) vols. 4, 6, 8.

Although he designed book covers bound in Western style as early as 1924, from around 1936 Fukazawa began to focus more on such work. He is also recorded as a block cutter for moku-hanga (block print: 木版画) illustrations. Even so, he continued producing sôsaku hanga (creative prints: 創作版画) during the Second World War and up until his death. His work was also included in the 1947 Nihon Hanga Kyôkai (Association of Sôsaku Hanga Artists: 日本洋画協会) group exhibition. According to Onchi Kôshirô1, Fukazawa's graphic style was somewhat abbreviated. His cutting and printing technique, was unusually soft, shallow, and smooth.

Fukazawa contributed 13 designs to the collaborative Shin Tokyo hyakkei (One hundred views of New Tokyo: 新東京百景), and it is these compositions that are the most familiar works by Fukazawa today. It was in the autumn of 1928 when the first print by each of the nine artists represented in the series was published and displayed at the inaugural exhibition of the so-called Takujô-sha ("On the Table Group": 卓上社). The entire series was issued from 1928 to 1932 on a subscription basis through Nakajima Jûtarô of the Sôsaku Hanga Club. All the artists represented in the series were members of the Nihon Sôsaku Hanga Kyôkai (Japan Creative Print Association, 日本創作版画協会 est. 1918) as well as founding members of the Nihon Hanga Kyôkai (1931): 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), Shimozawa Kihachirô (下澤木鉢郎; 1901-1984), and Suwa Kaneori (諏訪兼紀; 1897-1932).

The images on this page illustrate two of Fukazawa's prints from the Shin Tokyo hyakkei. A scene from the café district in Shinjuku is shown on the left (Shinjuku kafe-gai, 新宿カフェ街). Fukazawa used simple geometric forms and silhouettes to populate the view, an economical approach that was indicative of many of his street scenes. At the top right is a view of a baseball game between Waseda and Keio Universities at Meiji Jingu Baseball Stadium (Meiji Jingu Kyujo Sokeisen). This is indeed an unusual composition for Fukagawa where the intentionally obstructed view brings to life the experience of attending an early game of baseball while seated high up behind home plate.

Many of Fukazawa's prints are not signed, especially prints from series, which are typically mounted to backing paper with artist names and print titles, or with such information on folders. Occasionally, his artist seal reading "Saku" (索) can be found on an impression (see examples at left), or a printed/stamped version of "SAKU" in English (see the lower right corner of the "Café District" design at upper left).

Fukazawa's prints can be found in private and public collections, including the Art Gallery of New South Wales; Art Institute of Chicago; British Museum, London; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, MA; Honolulu Museum of Art; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.

  1. Onchi, Kôshirô, "The Modern Japanese Print: An Internal History of the Sosaku Hanga Movement," trans. U. Osamu and C. H. Mitchell, in Ukiyo-e geijutsu, no. 11, 1965, p. 24.
  2. Uhlenbeck, Chris, Newland, Amy, and de Vries, Maureen: Waves of renewal. modern Japanese prints 1900 to 1960. Leiden: Hotei Publishing, 2016, pp. 54, nos. 214-216.

The text provided here is based in large part on John Fiorillo's web page: