The life and work of Ohara Koson - Wall masters

Ohara Koson

Wall Master Koson's Dive of Three Red-rumped Swallows 2 1


The life of Ohara

Ohara was born as Ohara Matao around 1877 and began his training as a painter in Ishikawa at a young age around 1890, followed by studies with Suzuki Koson, whose name Ohara took over: Ohara Koson. During the Russo-Japanese War, he made many prints and earned his money with them. He later taught at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts.

The American Ernest Fenellosa, a colleague from this art school, encouraged Koson to return to making traditional works of art 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 are all the same person.

Ohara died in Tokyo in 1945.

The work of Ohara Koson

Koson's first works were mostly illustrations and reports of wars, after which he applied himself to making (woodcut) prints of birds and flowers (kachō-e). He worked together with various publishers, including Watanabe Shōzaburō. He signed his work with Koson, Shōson and Hōson. Particularly through his collaboration with the publisher Watanabe Shōzaburō, his prints became known worldwide because they brought Ohara's work to the attention of people 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 training and experience, his prints look like watercolours. His craftsmanship was very great, but the craftsmen of the publisher Watanabe who did the carving and made the prints were artists who deserve at least as much respect. They worked together as a close-knit team.

Ohara's designs are sometimes executed/printed with different colours, so it is not strange to come across a design with different colours.

A Japanese masterpiece?

Do you want one of Ohara Koson's masterpieces on your wall? View his pen drawings and choose your favourite in the desired size and design.

Take a look at the beautiful pen drawings that we have included in our collection.