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Biography: Tokuriki Tomikichirô (徳力富吉郞)

Tokuriki Tomikichirô photo circa 1964
Tokuriki Tomikichirô in his studio, c. 1964

Tokuriki Tomikichirô signature
Tomikichirô saku ("Work by Tomikichirô")

"T. Tokuriki "pencil signature


Tokuriki Tomikichirô moon at dojima riverTokuriki Tomikichirô (徳力富吉郞), born in Kyoto, was a twelfth-generation member of a family long associated with official artists of the Hongan Temple (本願寺) in Kyoto, including the Kano-school painter Tokuriki Zensetsu (善雪徳力 1591-1680), whose given name Tokuriki (徳力) the young artist adopted as his art name. He graduated from the Kyoto City School of Fine Arts and Crafts and the Kyoto City Specialist School of Painting in 1924. He also studied nihonga (Japanese-style painting: 日本画) at the private school of Tsuchida Bakusen (土田麦僊 1887-1936) and with Yamamoto Shunkyo (山元春挙 1871-1933).

Tokuriki's first introduction to woodcuts came at the age of 12 or 13 (circa 1914) with his grandfather, a painter who had taken up woodblock printing around Meiji 23 (1890). In addition, Tokuriki took some short courses on printmaking given by Hiratsuka Un'ichi (1895-1997) in Kyoto, and also studied printmaking with the carver Keikichi Hono and the printer Oiwa Tokuzô, who reputedly was a printer for Utagawa Hiroshige III (1842–1894).

From 1929 Tokuriki focused on mokuhanga (block prints: 木版画), contributing to the early print magazine Han ("Print": 版), which realized eight issues (1928-29) under the leadership of the aforementioned Hiratsuka Un'ichi and Maeda Masao (1904-1974). Tokuriki published many sets and series before World War II, and afterwards established the Matsukyû (末詳 or まつ九) Publishing Company to produce and distribute his prints. He also issued prints through its subdivision, Kôrokusha (紅録社), formed by Tokuriki, Kamei Tôbei  (亀井藤兵衛 1901-1977), and Kotozuka Eiichi (琴塚英一 1906-1979). In addition to his self-carved, self-printed hanga, he published works by other artists such as Takahashi Tasaburô (高橋太三郎 1904-1977) and the aforementioned Kotozuka Eiichi and Kamei Tôbei. A large number of Tokuriki's designs were republished in later years and it is sometimes difficult to identify the exact year of printing for a given impression. More scholarship is needed in this area.

For much of his long life Tokuriki taught many artisans and artists, some of them non-Japanese (see Daniel Kelly), and he traveled extensively, thus his influence was significant in the world of hanga. He was also a co-founder of the Kyoto magazine Taishû hanga ("Popular Prints": 大衆版画) in 1931 (two issues, August and November). The magazine, although short-lived, helped promote local support in Kyoto for sôsaku hanga (creative prints: 創作版画), something Tokuriki was dedicated to for much of his career. For decades thereafter he continued to provide encouragement and instruction to those interested in hanga, including writing his little book on the subject in 1968 (Tokuriki Tomikichirô: Woodblock Printing. Trans. Arimatsu Teruko; Osaka: Hoikusha Publishing Company, 1968), and producing a long series of articles on print techniques in the magazine Hanga geijutsu ("Print Art": 版画藝術) in the 1970s.

It is Tokuriki's self-carved, self-printed sôsaku hanga that are more highly considered by scholars, curators, and collectors. However, he is perhaps best known to Westerners through his many print designs in the shin hanga (new prints: 新版画) style for various series published by the three main Kyoto firms — Uchida, Unsôdô, and Kyoto Hanga-in. Three well-known series published by Uchida Bijutsu Shoten (内田美術書店) were Tokuriki's Kyoraku Sanjudai (Thirty views of Kyoto: 京洛三十題) in 1936, Osaka Meisho (Famous scenes of Osaka: 大阪名所) in 1936, and Fuji sanjûrokukei no uchi (Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji: 富士三十六景ノ内), c. 1939-40. Tokuriki cut the blocks for some of these scenic views, but otherwise left that work to artisans employed by the publishers. An example from the Osaka series is shown above right, Dôjimagawa no tsuki ("Moon at Dojima River": 堂島川の月), an atmospheric design in the nearly square shikishiban format (270 x 240 mm).

Perhaps Tokuriki's best known and most frequently encountered meisho (famous places: 名所) designs are the fifty prints in Seichi shiseki meisho (Scenes of sacred places and historic landmarks: 聖地史蹟名勝). Published by Uchida in 1941, the set features views from Japan's historic shrines, temples, castles, and other man-made and natural structures like bridges and waterfalls. The series was republished in 1988, but was machine printed. 

For more information about Tokuriki Tomikichirô, see John Fiorillo's web page: