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Crater from the series Five Views of Aso

Sakamoto Hanjirō (1882-1969)

 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Crater (Funkakō)

from the series Five Views of Aso

by Sakamoto Hanjirō, 1950

Sakamoto Hanjirō (1882-1969)

IHL Cat. #1110

About This Print

Sakamoto gives us a view into the active crater of Mt. Aso, the largest active volcano in in Aso Kujū National Park in Kumamoto Prefecture, on the island of Kyūshū.  The print is one of five in the series Five Views of Aso.

About The Series "Five Views of Aso" (Aso gokei)

According to Merritt, this series was first published in a limited edition of 300 in 1950* by Kuga Isao [correct romanization is Kuga Ichio] of Sōjinsha, with carving and printing at KatōHanga Kenkyūsho under the supervision of Katō Junji. She goes on to state that the series underwent a number of subsequent printings, as follows: "Fifty sets of the same subjects were printed in a smaller version, ca. 16.5 x 23 cm [6.5 x 9 in.], by Kyūryūdō in 1962 with the title Sakamoto Hanjiro gashu; 300 more sets of about the same size were printed in 1964 and 130 more in 1971."1
* sources differ on the date of first publishing with some listing 1948 and others 1950.

The titles of the five prints in the series, and a small sixth print of two horses grazing on the outside of the envelope the prints were placed in and also on the cover sheet for the series, as shown below, are:
right column: Pasture 放牧, Moon at Namino 波埜の月,  (envelope with print of two horses grazing) Five Views of Aso 阿蘇五景
left column: Funkakō (Crater) 噴火口, Nangōdani 南郷谷, Morning at Nedodake 根子嶽の朝

Five Views of Aso 阿蘇五景 - as originally issued
Paper folder containing five prints
 11 x 15 3/4 in. (28 x 40 cm) approx. each of the five prints
5 x 5 3/4 in. (12.7 x 14.6 cm) approx. portfolio cover print
Published by Katō Junji in conjunction with Sōjinsha in 1948 and, possibly again, in 1950

The series is still being offered for sale by Katō Publishing as of 6/24/2020 as pictured above. It is unknown whether the prints they're offering are from the original printing, which they identify as 1948 (rather than 1950), or a later printing using the original blocks. The early printings did not carry the publisher's mark, stamped in the right margin, as seen above. The top sheet, a woodblock print of two horses grazing, was added to the portfolio at a later date replacing a small woodblock print pasted on the portfolio envelope of the original release also depicting two horses grazing. 
Top or title sheet reads:上置 阿蘇五景 草人社 加藤版画研究所
[top sheet, Five Views of Aso, Sōjinsha, Katō Hanga Kenkyūjo]
There is some confusion about how many subsequent editions were printed but I have found reference to the following printings:

 Year Publisher Print Image   
 size (approx.)
 Edition Notes
1950 (Showa 25)Kuga Ichio of Sōjinsha 騒人社 and Katō Print Research Institute
 10 x 14 in. (25 x 36 cm)

 300carving and printing at Katō Hanga Kenkyūsho under the supervision of Katō Junji. Printing by Yamagawa Bunji.
Merritt and other sources give the publishing date of 1950, but Kat
ō Hanga and still other sources give the date as 1948.
 1962 (Showa 37)Kyūryūdō 求龍堂 6 1/2 x 9 in. (16.5 x 23 cm) 50Sakamoto Hanjirō gashū
 1964 (Showa 39)Kyūryūdō 求龍堂 6 1/2 x 9 in. (16.5 x 23 cm) 300portfolio titled Sakamoto Hanjirō gashū Kyūryūdō (see image below)
The portfolio [shown below] of the five prints from the series Five Views of Asao, issued in a smaller format, was included with a book of Sakamoto's work, various essays on his life and work and a chronology of his life. The work was compiled by Kuga Ichio
 1971 (Showa 46)Kyūryūdō 求龍堂 6 1/2 x 9 in. (16.5 x 23 cm) 130portfolio titled Sakamoto Hanjirō mokuhan Aso gokei Kyūryūdō
坂本繁二郎 木版阿蘇五景  求龍堂版

1964 release by Kyūryūdō - prints in smaller format (approx. 6.5 x 9 in.). Issued in an edition of 300.
Carver and printer unknown. 
Colophon reading:
坂本繁二郎画集 一九六四年版 冊 [Sakamoto Hanjirō gashū, printed 1964, supplement]
昭和 三十十月日 [October 15, 1964] 
編集者 久我五千男 [editor: Kuga Ichio (1922-1984)]
者 一 [publisher: Ishihara Ryūchi (founder of Kyūryūdō)]
株式 求龍堂 [corporation: Kyūryūdō)
followed by contact information in left three columns

1 Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975, Helen Merritt, University of Hawaii Press, 1992, p. 258-259.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1110
 Title Crater (Funkakō 噴火口)
 Series Five Views of Aso (Aso gokei 阿蘇五景)
 Sakamoto Hanjirō (1882-1969)
Sakamoto lさかもと
 Publication Date
 Edition likely first
 Kuga Isao of Sōjinsha 騒人社 with carving and printing at Katō HangaKenkyūsho under the supervision of Katō Junji
 Printer Yamagawa Bunji (as given by Merritt)
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent
 Genre sosaku hanga (creative print); moku-hanga
 Format oban
 H x W Paper 11 1/8 x 15 1/2 in. (28.2 x 39.4 cm)
 H x W Image 9 7/8 x 14 3/16 in. (25.1 x 36 cm)
 Collections This Print The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto P00862-003; Oita Prefectural Art Museum Pr-2001-0005
 Reference Literature Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975, Helen Merritt, University of Hawaii Press, 1992, p. 258-159 (not shown); Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints - The Early YearsHelen Merritt, University of Hawaii Press, 1998, p. 100 (not shown.)
latest revision: