Hasegawa Takejiro and Nishinomiya Yosaku



Nishinomiya Takejiro was born on October 8, 1853. He was raised in a section of Tokyo where, during the Meiji era, Westerners were allowed to live and therefore he became exposed to Western culture, language, and religion. By the time of his 17th birthday, he was fluent in English and was able to earn money guiding tourists around Tokyo and teaching English to Japanese students. He became interested in Christianity and, in 1877, was married to a woman who shared that interest. In 1878, he took on his mother's family name and was thereafter known as Hasegawa Takejiro. Both he and his wife were baptized in 1880. By this time he was a successful merchant, importing Western books and luxury items from France.

There was a serious economic recession in Japan from 1881 through 1884. During this difficult time, his marriage ended and he lost his interest in Christianity, choosing instead to practice Buddhism.

In 1884, Takejiro launched a publishing company, Kobunsha, to produce books about Japanese topics and folktales in foreign languages, including English, German, and French. In 1885, he took his second wife, 17 year old Komiya Yasu. Between 1887 and 1910, they had three daughters and three sons.

I haven't been able to find out exactly when, but the name of the business changed to the Hasegawa Publishing Co. (or, in Japanese, Hasegawa Shoten). Takejiro published books for export which were made from printed text and woodblock printed pictures, many of which were creped. These books were primarily childrens' books, because the creped paper was thought to be extremely durable and able to withstand much abuse without tearing.

Additionally, he published single sheet woodblock prints for export. There were reproductions of old ukiyo-e masterpieces and also original images designed by various artists. The early artists included Arai Yoshimune, Suzuki Kason, and Mishima Shôsô, who were the principal illustrators for the crepe paper books.

Takejiro's second son, Hasegawa Yosaku (born January 19, 1896), later adopted the Nishinomiya family name of his grandparents, and became known as Nishinomiya Yosaku. It's not known exactly when the business passed from father to son, but by 1936, only Nishinomiya's name appeared on copyright stamps on their prints. In the meantime, their stable of artists had expanded to include Shoda Koho, Yoshimoto Gesso, Eijiro, Ito Yuhan, Ohara Koson, Ôide Tôkô and Gyosui.

Hasegawa Takejiro passed away on July 19, 1938.

The company still exists in Negishi, Taitô ward, Tokyo.

Click for higher resolution image of front cover Click for higher resolution image of back cover


I have come into possession of a photocopy of an undated Hasegawa catalog. It's in pretty rough shape, and probably at least a third generation photocopy but still is quite informative. On the back page are listed the dates of various awards that were received, with the latest date being 1915. My suspicion is that the catalog was produced sometime in the period from 1915-1920. The artists Ito Yuhan and Ohara Koson are not mentioned.

On the back cover, it says:

Founded 1885 by T. Hasegawa
Successor Y. Nishinomiya

The Night Scene Series is prominently displayed on 5 pages of this catalog with black/white images of 20 of the 21 listed prints.

Home  Copyright 2001-2003 by Marc Kahn; All Rights Reserved