Kunichika (1835 - 1900 )

Kunichika Toyohara was born Yasohachi Arakawa, the son of a public bathhouse proprietor in the artisan section of Edo. As a young man, he studied with the ukiyo-e artist Chikanobu, from whom he received his artist name. He then apprenticed under Kunisada and began to produce actor prints in the Utagawa style, though he never used the Utagawa name. Kunichika married and had one daughter, though his marriage ended due to his questionable personal conduct.


Known for his actor okubi-e (big-head portraits), Kunichika's prints captured a traditional genre with the bold new colors of aniline dyes. He made great use of the deep, scarlet red to dramatic effect. In addition, he produced some historical prints and journalistic illustrations. Passionate about kabuki theater, Kunichika regularly spent time backstage, sketching the actors and watching the plays. This wealth of personal experience in the theater lends an intimacy to his impeccable yakusha-e (actor prints). Before the Meiji Restoration of 1868, Kunichika was chosen by the Japanese government to present his work at the 1867 World Exhibition in Paris.

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Ichikawa Danjuro

Kunichika

Ichikawa Danjuro

JPR1-57668

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English Balloonist

Kunichika

English Balloonist

JP-111004

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Introducing Two Kabuki Plays

Kunichika

Introducing Two Kabuki Plays

JP110821

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Ichikawa Danjuro as Kumagai Naozane and Onoe Kikugoro as Taira no Atsumori at the Ichinotani Battle

Kunichika

Ichikawa Danjuro as Kumagai Naozane and Onoe Kikugoro as Taira no Atsumori at the Ichinotani Battle

JP1-21196

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Ushiwaka-maru and Benkei on the Gojo Bridge

Kunichika

Ushiwaka-maru and Benkei on the Gojo Bridge

JP110819

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Raiko and the Earth Spider, Kabuki Actor Onoe Kikugoro as the Earth Spider

Kunichika

Raiko and the Earth Spider, Kabuki Actor Onoe Kikugoro as the Earth Spider

JP110433

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Kabuki Actors Onoe Kikugoro, Kataoka Gado and Bando Kakyo

Kunichika

Kabuki Actors Onoe Kikugoro, Kataoka Gado and Bando Kakyo

JP1-51184

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Kabuki Actors at the Yoshiwara Bath

Kunichika

Kabuki Actors at the Yoshiwara Bath

JPR5318

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Ichikawa Danjuro as Kyumonryu Shishin

Kunichika

Ichikawa Danjuro as Kyumonryu Shishin

JP6367

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The Demon Ibaraki and Watanabe no Tsuna

Kunichika

The Demon Ibaraki and Watanabe no Tsuna

JP2758

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Celebration of the Opening

Kunichika

Celebration of the Opening

JP-110648

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Komyo-kogo Washing One Thousand People

Kunichika

Komyo-kogo Washing One Thousand People

JPR1-71916

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Kabuki Actor Ichikawa Danjuro as Okubo Hikozaemon on His Way to the Castle

Kunichika

Kabuki Actor Ichikawa Danjuro as Okubo Hikozaemon on His Way to the Castle

JP-110650

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Kabuki Actor Nakamura Fukusuke as Nichiren Shonin and Nakamura Kakuzo as Tojo Saemon

Kunichika

Kabuki Actor Nakamura Fukusuke as Nichiren Shonin and Nakamura Kakuzo as Tojo Saemon

JPR1-62160

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Restaurant at Ikenohata

Kunichika

Restaurant at Ikenohata

JPR-85316

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Takeda Shingen and Yamamoto Kansuke

Kunichika

Takeda Shingen and Yamamoto Kansuke

JP110829

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Battles of Saigo Takamori

Kunichika

Battles of Saigo Takamori

JP111611

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Ichikawa Kodanji; Evening Glow at the Eitaibashi

Kunichika

Ichikawa Kodanji; Evening Glow at the Eitaibashi

JP6359

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Kabuki Actor Bando Hikosaburo

Kunichika

Kabuki Actor Bando Hikosaburo

JP2642

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Comparison of Nudes to Irises at the Public Bath

Kunichika

Comparison of Nudes to Irises at the Public Bath

JPR1-72088

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