Ohara Koson

Muurmeester-uitstapje-japan-2The painter Ohara Koson, 1877-1945

The life of Ohara

Ohara was born as Ohara Matao around 1877 and started his painting education in Ishikawa around 1890 at a young age, followed by a study with Suzuki Koson of which Ohara took over the name: Ohara Koson. During the Russo-Japanese War he made many prints and earned his money with them. Later he taught at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts.
The American Ernest Fenellosa, a colleague from this art academy, encouraged Koson to make traditional works of art again from woodcuts and Ohara specialised in Kachō-e

He used many different stamps and signatures in his painting years. Ohara Shoson, Ohara Hoson, Shoson Ohara, Hoson Ohara, Ohara Koson, they’re all the same person.

Ohara died in Tokyo in 1945.

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The work of Ohara Koson

Koson’s first works were mostly illustrations and images of wars, after which he concentrated on making (wood carvings) prints of birds and flowers (kachō-e). He collaborated with various publishers, including Watanabe Shōzaburō. He signed his work with Koson, Shōson and Hōson. Especially through the cooperation with the publisher Watanabe Shōzaburō his prints became known worldwide because they brought Ohara’s work to the attention abroad. Especially in the United States his work was very popular.


The Japanese word kachō-e stands for the printing of birds and flowers by means of woodcarving. Koson Ohara is the most famous printmaker in this movement. Because of his education and experience, his prints look like aquarelles. His craftsmanship was very high, but the craftsmen of the publisher Watanabe who carried out the carvings and made the prints were artists who deserve at least as much respect. They worked together as a close-knit team.

The designs of Ohara are sometimes executed / printed with different colors, therefore it is not strange to come across a design with different colors.

A masterpiece of Ohara Koson on your wall?

Would you like one of the masterpieces of Ohara on your wall? Have a look at drawings and choose your favorite painting in your own desired size.