Kacho-ga, bird&flower prints, an ukiyo-e sub-genre

1. Prelude

Hello everyone and welcome to my article on Kacho-ga or Kacho-e. In this article, I will talk about the Kacho-ga or Kacho-e, his history, his main artists and beautiful woodblock prints of this sub-genre of Ukiyo-e.

Reading this article will take less than 15 minutes.

Please, enjoy your reading and don’t hesitate to comment. If I made any mistake, I will do my best to correct it as quickly as possible.

Summary

  1. Prelude
  2. Kacho-ga definition
  3. Etymology of Kacho-ga
  4. The origins of Kacho-ga
    • In China, we go.
    • Famous artist of the Kacho-ga style
      • Hokusai, the grand kacho-ga master
      • Keisai Eisen
      • Hiroshige
      • Hiroshige II
      • Hiroshige III
      • Utagawa Kuniyoshi
      • Kunisada
  5. Conclusion

2. Kacho-ga definition

Kacho-ga is a Japanese art sub-genre of Ukiyo-e which depicts birds and flowers; Ukiyo-e describing bird, flower, fish or insects and natural scenery can be included in the Kacho-ga genre.

The word Kacho-ga can be found in multiple orthography, such as Kachoga, Kachō-ga or Kachōga. The kanji “画” reading “ga” can also be found in another form for this word which is “絵” reading “e”. Therefore, there is also the word Kacho-e which is referring to Kacho-ga, they are the same thing, just a different etymology for the same designation of this ukiyo-e art style.

3. Etymology of Kacho-ga

In Japanese the word “Kacho-ga” is written like this:

花鳥画

As you can see this word is composed of 3 characters (3 kanjis):

  • The first kanji is 花 which means “flower” and his reading is “ka”.
  • The second kanji is 鳥 which means “bird” and his reading is “cho” or “chō”.
  • The third kanji is 画 which means “picture” and his reading is “ga”.

When we translate this Japanese word into English:

Picture of Bird and Flower

4. The origins of Kacho-ga

In China, we go.

Kacho-ga origins comes from the Chinese culture of the 10th century. During this period, there was two famous Chinese artists known for their bird and flower paintings, Huang Quan 哳㥳 (900–965) and Xu Xi 徐熙 (937–975).

Birds, Insects and Turtles by Huang Quan, Kacho-ga
(Birds, Insects and Turtles by Huang Quan, Kacho-ga)

Butterfly and Chinese Wisteria Flowers by Xu Xi,Kacho-ga
(Butterfly and Chinese Wisteria Flowers by Xu Xi,Kacho-ga)

Famous artist of the Kacho-ga style

Hokusai, the grand kacho-ga master

When you do an article about kacho-ga, you have to talk about Katsushika Hokusai, one of the most famous ukiyo-e artist. He is not just famous in japan, but a worldwide star. I will present some of his works which most people outside of japan does not know, for the simple reason that The Great Wave off Kanagawa or Fine Wind, Clear Morning of Mount fuji eclipsed his other works (only in my opinion).

So, to get it out of the way, I will first talk about the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji which is a well known ukiyo-e series representing mount fuji from different point of view and sceneries.

The Fuji reflects in Lake Kawaguchi by hokusai, kacho-ga
(The Fuji reflects in Lake Kawaguchi by hokusai in the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji)
Shichiri beach in Sagami province by hokusai, kacho-ga
(Shichiri beach in Sagami province by hokusai in the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji)
Lake Suwa in the Shinano province by hokusai, kacho-ga
(Lake Suwa in the Shinano province by hokusai in the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji)
Umegawa in Sagami province by hokusai, kacho-ga
(Umegawa in Sagami province by hokusai in the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji)



Now, I will present you some ukiyo-e of hokusai in the kacho-ga genre with the most impressive flowers.

Poppies by hokusai, kacho-ga
(Poppies by hokusai, kacho-ga)
Flower sunset by hokusai, kacho-ga
(Flower sunset by hokusai, kacho-ga)
Chrysanthemums and Horsefly by hokusai, kacho-ga
(Chrysanthemums and Horsefly by hokusai)
Lilies by hokusai, kacho-ga
(Lilies by hokusai)

Keisai Eisen

Keisai Eisen is a contemporary of Hokusai, he is an ukiyo-e master known for his bijin-ga style with their enormous head. Also, his main style is not kachoga, but he did draw some flowers and birds.

Birds and Flowers by Keisai Eisen, kachoga
(Birds and Flowers by Keisai Eisen)
Fishes Swimming with Yellow Flowers by Keisai Eisen, kachoga
(Fishes Swimming with Yellow Flowers by Keisai Eisen)
Bird and Flowering Tree by Keisai Eisen, kachoga
(Bird and Flowering Tree by Keisai Eisen)
Bird and flowers by Keisai Eisen, kachoga
(Bird and flowers by Keisai Eisen)


Hiroshige

Utagawa Hiroshige is a famous ukiyo-e artist which is considered the last ukiyo-e grand master before the decline of the genre. He is famous for his landscape series, such as The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō.
The difference between these two ukiyo-e masters (Hokusai and Hiroshige) are the more subtle colors and poetic approach of Hiroshige.

#43 Tsumago by Utagawa Hiroshige, kacho-ga
(#43 Tsumago by Utagawa Hiroshige)
Distant Bank of Öi River at Kanaya (Station #25) by UtagawaHiroshige, kacho-ga
(Distant Bank of Öi River at Kanaya (Station #25) by UtagawaHiroshige)
Red-cheeked Bird and Red Plum Blossoms by Utagawa Hiroshige, kacho-ga
(Red-cheeked Bird and Red Plum Blossoms by Utagawa Hiroshige)
Two mandarins ducks Hiroshige
(Two mandarins ducks Hiroshige)


Hiroshige II

Hiroshige II inherited the name of his former master after his death and his marriage with his master daughter. His work and style are really close to his master, therefore, the scholars have difficulties to differentiate their works.

Hibiscus in the Flower Garden
(Hibiscus in the Flower Garden by Utagawa Hiroshige II, kacho-ga)
Tohru Senju Lily
(Tohru Senju Lily by Utagawa hiroshige II)
Odawara, the Tôkaidô Road,
(Odawara, from the series Scenes of Famous Places along the Tôkaidô Road, Utagawa Hiroshige II)
Komabano, from the series Views of Famous Places in Edo
(Komabano, from the series Views of Famous Places in Edo by Utagawa Hiroshige II)


Hiroshige III

Utagawa Hiroshige III was also a student of Hiroshige, he took the name of hiroshige III after marring the daughter of his master which divorced with hiroshige II. His style was also very close to his master, yet he didn’t know the same success.

Monkey Bridge by Utagawa hiroshige III
(Monkey Bridge by Utagawa hiroshige III)
48 Famous Places of Edo by Utagawa hiroshige III
(48 Famous Places of Edo by Utagawa hiroshige III)
Flying Cranes by Utagawa hiroshige III
(Flying Cranes by Utagawa hiroshige III)
Bird and Autumn Flowers by Utagawa hiroshige III
(Bird and Autumn Flowers by Utagawa hiroshige III)


Utagawa Kuniyoshi

Here is the part about the very prolific Utagawa Kuniyoshi, he draw a vast variety of ukiyo-e, but here we will focus on his kacho-ga work.

Butterfly and Camellia by Utagawa Kuniyoshi
(Butterfly and Camellia by Utagawa Kuniyoshi)
Hawk and Nestlings in Pine Tree by utagawa kuniyoshi
(Hawk and Nestlings in Pine Tree by utagawa kuniyoshi)
Fifty-three Stations of the Tôkaidô Road by utagawa kuniyoshi
(Fifty-three Stations of the Tôkaidô Road by utagawa kuniyoshi)
Converting the Spirit of a Cormorant Fisherman by utagawa kuniyoshi
(Converting the Spirit of a Cormorant Fisherman by utagawa kuniyoshi)


Conclusion

Here you have it, I have presented to you some of the kacho-ga artist. But, there are a lot of them out there, therefore, I have hand picked today’s list. I hope you enjoyed it.

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Deligne Mathieu - RedSparkleArt- Author-Painter-ukiyo-e artist- kachoga artist

Deligne Mathieu

Deligne Mathieu is a young artist with the objective to master the art of drawing Ukiyo-e bird and flower (花鳥画 – Kacho-ga).