The variety of names used by some Japanese artists are hard for this Western mind to understand.
All of the prints which I have found with the seal reading "Shien" have been attached to cards,
some are pre-printed Christmas cards, and some are blank notecards.
Those that have dates are from the early 1950s.
It is hard to imagine that "Shien" is an artist, unlisted in any of my reference books, who appeared
for a short period of time, designed these masterful compositions, and then disappeared - never to be heard
This Watanabe publisher's credit was found on the back of the notecards attached to Sh-10 and
With this in mind, I'm comfortable with the thought that "Shien" was a "house name" for Watanabe.
I have examined and discussed these images with multiple other collectors.
The consensus is that they are the works of more than one of the shin hanga masters.
The first character Shi is the same Japanese character in Shiro Kasamatsu's name.
Therefore, some feel that Shiro is one of the designers of this series of card prints.
I am convinced that Sh-1, Sh-3 and Sh-4 were designed by Kawase Hasui.
Also, Sh-5, Sh-6, and Sh-11 are reminiscent of earlier prints designed by Tsuchiya Kôitsu.
In October, 2005, during a visit to Tokyo, I asked Shoichiro Watanabe, grandson of Shozaburo and current
proprietor of the Watanabe Color Print Company, about "Shien".
He acknowledged that "Shien" was a "house name", and claimed that all of the "Shien" prints were based on
designs of Kawase Hasui.
If you've got any opinions, I'd like to hear about them.