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Takemura copyright notice

later markings:
Hodo signature;
Takemura seal
Hodo-Takemura Floral Series

Rakusan had no part in the production, publication, or sales of this woodblock print series. However, it is included here because its prints are frequently mistaken for those from a series for which Rakusan provided model paintings (see 洋草花譜, You Souka Fu, or Western Flowers Series.)

Western Flowers Series prints began appearing in the late 1920s. Early sets of forty-eight designs were complete by 1931, and a few additional designs followed. The series proved popular and went through additional revised printings in 1933 and 1936. It also sold well enough that it encouraged imitation.

Between 1937 and 1941 the firm of Yokohama printer-publisher 竹村秀雄, Takemura Hideo (known in the West as 'H. Takemura & Co.'), produced and sold a new series of at least twenty-seven floral woodblock prints in direct imitation of Western Flowers Series. Intentionally closely similar, the two series are often confused since both series were originally produced and sold without artist signatures or seals within the image area. Most of the Takemura designs are entirely new, although many are clearly derived from (or suggested by) individual Western Flowers Series designs. At least one design was simply recarved from a Western Flowers Series design and relabeled.

However, the two series can easily be distinguished if the print margins are visible. The designs in the original Western Flowers Series never have printed text in either of the side margins, and those in the derivative Takemura series always have at least the title in the lower right side margin. Additionally, most of the Takemura prints of this era have a woodblock-printed copyright notice in one of the lower side margins (see example at top left). It reads: 版権所有 竹村秀雄, han ken sho yu / Takemura Hideo, ‘printing rights held by Takemura Hideo’.

Subsequently, many copies were sold additionally marked within the image area with a signature and seal (see example at left). Copies of each design have probably been sold both with and without such markings. The signature 蒲堂, Hodou, is assumed to be that of 西村蒲堂, Nishimura Hodou (called here 'Hodo'), who is generally believed to have been an in-house artist for Takemura from around 1930 until the business shut down in 1941. Instead of a Hodo seal, the signature occurs with a red Takemura seal (which consists of the stylized kanji 竹村, take-mura). Therefore, since this series has no known contemporary title, it is called here Hodo-Takemura Floral Series.

No original inventory numbering is known for this series. However, more than half of the documented designs have invariant, woodblock-printed dates from which the relative order of first publication for those particular designs can be determined. Unfortunately, the other designs never have dates, and their positions relative to the ordering of the dated designs are likely to remain unknown. When dates are included, they always appear in the lower left margin above the copyright notice. If there is no date, the copyright notice is usually moved to the right margin below the title, and the left margin is blank. Less commonly, the copyright notice remains alone in the lower left margin or is omitted entirely. There is always a title in the lower right margin whether or not the other markings are present.

This brief introduction is taken from a longer article to appear here in the future. Therefore the design images are presented first in hopes that this generally unavailable data will prove useful. Unfortunately, all of this documentation is secondhand since the Rakusan Archive Project does not maintain a study collection of this series. Consequently, file examples for the majority of these designs are rather sparse, and better quality images are eagerly solicited. It is also believed that there are additional designs not yet encountered, as well as further marking variations of the documented designs. Please do contact us if you have questions or are able to offer additional information.

Currently, this section is incomplete with an unknown number of additional designs missing.

[Click on the thumbnail to bring up a subpage which includes a larger image of the design, additional details and images, and links to related designs.]



tree peony

Easter lily

1937-04 1938-05 1938-06 1939-01 1939-02





climbing rose
1939-03 1939-04 1939-05 1939-05 1939-06





1939-08 1939-12 1940-01 1940-05 1940-08

fan columbine

tiger lily


Japanese iris


no date a no date b no date c no date d no date e

morning glory


herbaceous peony


no date f no date g no date h no date i no date j

Western iris
no date k

Hodo seal
Hodo-Takemura Kacho Series

It is not suggested that this woodblock print series has anything to do with Rakusan. It is included here as an amplification of the role of Nishimura Hodo for Takemura, and because it dates from exactly the same period as the preceding series. (See introduction to preceding series on this page.) Also, because so little is known about Hodo, it is desirable to consolidate what information is available at a single place.

Similarly without its own contemporary title, this series is called here Hodo-Takemura Kacho Series. It was also published as individual prints by Takemura between 1937 and 1940. Like other Hodo work, this series is incompletely known and probably includes more than the twelve designs shown here. Apparently the immediate inspiration for this series is a group of black background prints which Ohara Koson (Shoson) produced for Watanabe in the 1920s using some of the same bird subjects. The treatment is a popular one and there were also several similar designs published by others around this time as well.

Although it is believed that all of the designs were originally printed with black backgrounds, many (or perhaps all?) were also printed with very pale backgrounds instead. In the lower left margin of each documented design is the typical Takemura copyright notice (see example top of page left) and an invariant date (always the same date for the same design regardless of background color). In the lower right margin of all but two of the designs is a title-caption; only the horse and rabbits designs lack title-captions.

The normal artist marking within the print is a red composite seal without an accompanying signature (see example at left). The seal comprises two rectangles separated by the background color with each showing a single, negatively-defined, kanji: 蒲 ho over 堂 dou. However, the last three designs with light backgrounds (rabbits, kingfisher, and snipe) instead have the same markings as are sometimes found in the Hodo-Takemura Floral Series, a Hodo signature and Takemura seal (see example top of page left).

As with the previous series shown above, the available documentation is very limited, and more information is eagerly solicited. Currently, this section is incomplete with an unknown number of additional designs missing.

[Click on the thumbnail to bring up a subpage which includes a larger image of the design, additional details and images, and links to related designs.]

red macaw











golden pheasant


















© 2011, 2012 (latest revisions © 2016, 2019) Dr Michael J P Nichols

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