Hanko Kajita was a popular painter and woodblock print artist known for his kuchi-e, front piece illustrations for novels and literary magazines. Born in 1870 as Jojiro Kajita, Hanko was the son of a distinguished Tokyo metalwork artist. At age eleven, Hanko began to study Shijo painting with Gyokuei Nabeta, from whom he received the name “Gyokushu.” Due to an eye infection, this tutelage ended prematurely. Following his recovery, the young artist resumed his training under Nanga painter Kenko Ishii. In 1886, he produced designs for the export company Kiryu Kosho Gaisha. That same year, he began to use the name Hanko as he became increasingly involved in various painting societies and exhibitions, and designed senso-e (war prints), newspaper illustrations, and studies of plants. In 1898 Hanko became the vice principal of Toyama Prefectural School of Arts and Crafts, but he returned to Tokyo less than a year later to work as an illustrator for Yomiuri Shinbun. He gained fame as an illustrator through his work on the novel series Demon of Gold between December 1900 and May 1901. Two years later, his woodblock printed and lithographic images for the novel Evil Wind, Love Wind captured a wide audience. In 1902, he returned to education as the head of Hokkokai (or Byakkokai), a private art school in Tokyo attended by artists such as Togyo Okumura, Kokei Kobayashi and Seison Maeda. Hanko died at the age of 47 from tuberculosis.
Ukiyo-e | Japanese Woodblock Prints | Ronin Gallery