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Ukiyo-e


Ukiyo-e Gallery

Toshusai Sharaku

(dates of birth and death unknown)


Tsutaya Juzaburo--the man who discovered Utamaro's talent--commissioned Toshusai Sharaku, at the time an unknown artist drawing yakusha-e (portraits of kabuki actors), to do actors' okubi-e (close-ups). These prints of Edo kabuki actors in theatrical roles caused a sensation. What surprised the public was that the prints weren't intended to depict the actors beautifully; the highly original designs purposely emphasized the actors' idiosyncrasies.
Along with Utamaro, Sharaku played an important part in bringing about the golden age of ukiyo-e prints. But his works were too daring for the tastes of many people, and he disappeared from the world of ukiyo-e after only 10 months of activity.


  • Ichikawa Ebizo no Takemura Sadanoshin (Ichikawa Ebizo as Takemura Sadanoshin)


    This print highlights the honest personality of the role played by Ichikawa Ebizo. The use of just a few colors produces a powerful effect.

  • Ichikawa Omezo no Yakko Ippei (Ichikawa Omezo as Yakko Ippei)


    This print depicts a warrior just as he draws his sword to attack his enemy. The solid red costume is striking.

  • Tanimura Torazo no Washizuka Heiji (Tanimura Torazo as Washizuka Heiji)


    The mean look on the actor's face skillfully expresses the character's evil ambition.



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