The Flowers of Autumn by Kenji Takahashi and The Ukiyo-E by Utagawa Hiroyuki

A tree in the middle of a forest

The famous Kanagawa prints are a great example of how some artists have used flat topography to create beautiful works of art. These prints are on glass plates that have been fused together. The glass plate has the flat topography printed onto it, while the colored background is the actual brushstrokes of the artist.

Most Famous Flat Topographies

A tree in front of a sunset

One of the most famous of these flat topographies was made by Japanese woodblock prints artist Seiji Mochizuki. His career spanned four decades and ended with him dying in a train accident. He left behind many of his wonderful wooden block prints, but some of them were lost. Some of the losses were never recovered and therefore only very few prints of this great wave painting survive today. If you love woodblock prints then you should consider purchasing one of these prints today.

 Other Great Artists

A group of palm trees next to a tree

There are many other great artists that have blended abstract forms and geometrical shapes in order to make beautiful prints that feature waves. Examples of these include masters such as Tetsubin Okumura, Eiji Aoki and Tomoko Ninomiya. In western countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom you can find great examples of this type of work by such artists as Frank Lloyd Wright.

While most people think of these wonderful woodblock prints depicting seascapes or the ocean when they hear the word “woodblock” these paintings actually began as urino picta which is basically a pictorial representation of rice fields. When westerners began to view this type of painting, they quickly recognized it for its wonderful depth and the vibrant colors that it held. Most of these waves or rice fields were simple but it soon became evident that the artist had captured an incredible amount of detail in each rice field. Thus they began to be called “woodblock paintings”.

 A Journey Into Hell As The Hero

Of all the works by either Okumura or Aoki the two that catch my attention are those that depict scenes from Shurikomai, a famous novel written by Katsuhiro Shinburo. Shurikomai is a journey into hell as the hero, inspector Motohiro visits the kingdom of hell in order to investigate the murder of his stepmother. Once he arrives he realizes that all the women there are dying due to a plague that has resulted from their overeating. As he inspects the bodies he realizes that they are all but still alive due to the powerful waves that have eroded their bodies. As he stands there helplessly watching his beloved stepmother die before his very eyes he is overcome with guilt and urges him to save all the women.


Now that you have a clear understanding as to the type of works that can be created using the techniques I have just described it is time to move on to my comparisons between the famous Utagawa Hachijo Utahirokyu (The Flowers of Autumn) by Kenji Takahashi and the famous Ukiyo-E from Utagawa Hiroyuki. Both paintings are perfect examples of masters of Japanese art. One is a masterpiece while the other works at the level of masterpieces. Therefore, it is only fair that we include the works of these two in this comparison to show their greatness. Enjoy!

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