Born in Tokyo as Katsutaro Takahashi, Hiroaki (aka Shotei/ Komei) was in his mid-teens when he began to work in the design department of the Imperial Household Agency. He studied nihonga, or “Japanese-style painting” under his uncle Fuko Matsumoto, but also worked as an illustrator for periodicals and textbooks. Beginning in the early Taisho period, Hiroaki regularly collaborated with the prominent Shin Hanga publisher Shozaburo Watanabe. Hiroaki used a variety of signatures. Many of his large landscape and bijin-ga are signed “Hiroaki,” while ‘Shotei’ appears on other works. Hiroaki was a productive artist, completing around five hundred designs by the time he was fifty. Unfortunately, much of his work was destroyed by the fire that raged in the aftermath of the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923. Despite this tragedy, Hiroaki continued to work as a printmaker until his death in 1945.
An artist should use freely whatever materials he pleases. In the case of the woodblock print, he simply goes one step further and employs a block instead of a brush... - Watanabe Shozaburo, 1916