A member of the Osaka school, Tamikuni Toyokawa designed actor prints. Little is known about his life, though some have suggested that Tamikuni is an early name of another Osaka artist.
Kyoto, Osaka and Edo were the major centers of Japan during the 17th through 19th centuries. Osaka’s population was around 400,000. As Edo had the Yoshiwara, Osaka also possessed a legalized prostitution district, the Shinmachi, but the scale was much smaller. Thus, there are far fewer designs, printed in smaller editions. Osaka-e stand as a distinct genre in ukiyo-e. They also can be referred to as Kansai prints (the area around Osaka) or Kamigata prints (name for the Kansai region). Osaka prints focus primarily on kabuki scenes and actor portraits, though bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women) were also produced. Beyond single-sheet prints, the Osaka’s artists produced images for kaomise, the seasonal “face showing” of the actors set to perform for a particular theater season. Towards the end of the 18th century, advertisement extended to the production of banzuke (playbills).