Kotondo (1900 - 1976)

Morning Hair

Medium: Woodblock Print
Date: c. 1930
Size (H x W): 19 x 11.5 (inches)
Publisher: Ikeda
Seals: Square Kotondo seal and paper edition seal on reverse (Ikeda, Asanegami, 66th)
Edition: 66/100
Provenance: Garib Collection
Signature: Kotondo ga with rectangular seal Shi
Condition: Very good color and impression, light toning on margin, tape residue on reverse upper edge.



Planned in a limited edition of only 100 prints, Morning Hair is Kotondo's most famous design. However, the design was deemed too sexually suggestive under the "Peace Preservation Law" of 1928 - the blocks were destroyed and remaining prints were confiscated after only 70 impressions. The blocks for Morning Hair were carved by Kentaro Maeda and printed by Maejima.

About the artist

Kotondo Torii was born as Akira Saito in the Nihonbashi district of Tokyo. He was adopted as the son of Kiyotada Torii, the seventh Torii master and head of the school from 1929 until 1951. Kotondo began his career in 1914 in yamato-e (Japanese court painting) under the tutelage of Tomone Kobori, before joining Shinsui Ito in the workshop of Kiyokata Kaburaki in 1918. Early in his career, Kotondo produced posters and other kabuki focused illustrations for Entertainment Illustrated magazine. He completed the majority of his woodblock prints between 1927 and 1933, working with several publishers including Sakai/Kawaguchi (Kyoto, 1920s) and Ikeda (Tokyo, 1930s). After his father’s death in 1941, Kotondo assumed the name Torii VIII (Kiyotada V). From 1966 to 1972, he lectured at Nihon University. Unlike his kabuki-focused Torii predecessors, Kotondo turned to the bijin-ga genre. In both his paintings and his woodblock prints, he portrayed beauties with a delicacy and intimacy. Over course of his career, he produced twenty-two bijin-ga designs. Six of these designs were issued in multiple color variations.