Yoshijiro Urushibara Biography

Yoshijiro Urushibara




Yoshijiro Urushibara was born on March 12, 1889, in Shiba, Tokyo, the fourth son of Kanryo Urushibara and his wife Tsuru. Following in his brothers' footsteps, the younger Urushibara studied the techniques of carving and printing woodblocks.

In 1910, Urushibara traveled to London joining other Japanese artisans to demonstrate wood block printing techniques at the Anglo-Japanese Exhibition held at the White City in London. About this same time the British Museum had hired a Japanese printing firm to reproduce a famous scroll painting by the noted Chinese artist Gu Kaizhi. Urushibara was hired for the project and the museum later requested him to mount the scroll.

He remained in London, first working freelance mounting and restoring old prints but his reputation was such that artists wanting to learn how to carve and print their own woodblocks sought him as a teacher. He was quite influential in the English revival of the color woodcut and it is thought that the taught Alan Seaby and John Platt the intricacies of carving and printing.


Urushibara collaborated with the Belgium born artist, Frank Brangwyn, translating his watercolors into color woodblock prints. Their most noted collaboration was the portfolio, Ten woodcuts by Yoshijiro Urushibara after designs by Frank Brangwyn. He also produced his own color woodcuts with nature and floral subjects. After about thirty years in England and Europe, Urushibara repatriated with Japan in 1940 at the suggestion of the British government due to the Second World War. In Japan, he had to take a clerical job at the chemical company for the duration of the war. In 1945 he return to the production of his work and held exhibitions of his color woodcuts at the Misukoshi Department stores in Tokyo and Kobe.


Urushibara died on January 6, 1953.