Hirose Kinzo (弘瀬金蔵)

Kinzo HIROSE (November 4, 1812 - March 8, 1876) was an Ukiyo-e artist who lived from the end of the Edo period to the Meiji period.

While he changed his name more than 10 times throughout his life, he is generally known as Kinzo HIROSE; especially in his hometown Kochi Prefecture and nearby areas, he is affectionately called by his nickname, Ekin.

Personal Profile

He was born in Kochi City in 1812 as a son of a hairdresser. Since he was very young, he had been recognized for his talent of drawing in the castle town of Kochi; he went to Edo at the age of 16 to study under Towa MAEMURA, a goyo eshi serving at the Edo hantei of Tosa clan. It is said that he also studied under Toeki KANO, who was a goyo eshi of the Edo bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun). He completed his apprenticeship in total 3 years, which usually takes at least 10 years; he was given a pseudonym of Toi HAYASHI and returned to Kochi. Only at the age of 20, he became a goyo eshi of the Kirima family, which served as a karo (chief retainer) of Tosa clan.

However, he was dismissed from his position on the suspicion of counterfeiting the work of Tanyu KANO and expelled from the castle town of Kochi-jo Castle, while Kano school expelled him from its school member list. On this occasion, many of his ink-wash paintings produced during his goyo eshi career were incinerated. Whether he actually produced counterfeit or not is unknown, but there are some opinions vindicating Toi that he was framed up by those who were jealous of Toi as he was promoted from a mere townspeople to a goyo eshi at such young age, by abusing Toi's reproduction for study purpose acquired by some antique dealer.

There remains many unknown points about his life after leaving the castle town of Kochi-jo Castle and changing his name to Hirose by purchasing a name from a town doctor; yet it is known that he resorted his aunt and settled down in Akaoka town (present-day Konan City) from the Keio era, called himself by the name of 'Kinzo the painter for townspeople,' and left many paintings in the form of shibai-e (pictures of kabuki plays) or pictures for standing lanterns, ema (a votive horse tablet) or kites, whenever he was asked by local peasants or fishermen. He was called by a nickname of Ekin among those people with affection. The jumbling, provincial and gory shibai-e paintings produced during this period were especially popular, and the neighbors of Akaoka still hold the 'Tosa Akaoka Ekin Festival' every year in July, to exhibit his paintings owned by each house on folding screens.

After the Taisei Hokan (transfer of power back to the Emperor), he returned to his hometown Kochi, but he lost control of his right hand after he suffered from paralysis in 1873; still, he continued painting with his left hand.

He died on March 8, 1876. He died at the age of 65.

Major works
Ukiyozuka hiyoku no inazuma Suzugamori' (A scene of Kabuki theater in the same title; "The scene at Suzugamori, with two swordsmen of lightning speed meeting each other for the first time)
: The work is entrusted for museum collection at Ekingura Museum.
Zu taiheiki jitsurokudai Chushingura' (The scene of Joruri theater, the spoken story of Chushingura)
: The work is owned and exhibited by the museum of art, Kochi.

[Original Japanese]