digi-joho TOKYO TRAVEL Logo

Kawanabe Kyosai Memorial Museum

Kawanabe Kyosai Memorial Museum located in Nishikawaguchi, Saitama, Japan

A small museum often gives you an unexpected occasion of viewing masterpieces.

Kawanabe Kyosai (1831 – 1889)

Kawanabe Kyosai was a Japanese artist who was popular during the end of the Edo period and the beginning of the Meiji period. He is known as the last Ukiyo-e master (Master of Japanese Woodblock Prints), but he was also a talented painter who left many types of artworks, such as sensitive drawings of women in colorful Kimono and ink paintings of a lone crow. Kawanabe was a humorist and known as a man of spirit who criticized politicians through satirical drawing.

In spite of his splendid achievements and reputation during his time, he is not well known now as much as other Ukiyo-e masters, like Katsushika Hokusai in Japan. Kawanabe Kyosai's reputation outside of Japan is probably larger than in Japan.

Maybe it is because he drew many fantasy creatures that can be associated with ”Japanimation” or anime, like Japanese monsters, ghosts or other ghouls. Another reason might be that Josiah Conder studied painting under Kawanabe Kyosai in the 1880s, and he published a book to introduce the artworks of Kawanabe Kyosai to the world. Josiah Conder is most known as a British architect who designed historic buildings in Japan.

Kawanabe Kyosan Memorial Museum exhibits artworks of Kawanabe Kyosai and his daughter Kawanabe Kyosui, an artist of Japanese painting. The owner is the great-grandchild of Kawanabe Kyosai and exhibits are basically collections by the Kawanabe family, such as sketches, drawings, Kakejiku (hanging scroll), and Ukiyo-e prints. Exhibits are changed periodically (every 2 months or so) so visitors can enjoy different works, every time they visit.

The curator says international travelers visit their museum to see Ukiyo-e prints as there are not many galleries exhibiting Ukiyo-e prints as a regular exhibit in Japan. She also says they often have foreign visitors who are studying the art of drawing Tattoo's.

The museum has a shop where you can buy items like postcards of Kawanabe Kyosai’s drawing, which are hard to find in Japan. If you are a big fan of Kawanabe Kyosai, this shop will surely please you.

The shop has a small Café and the lady who is the shop assistant is very friendly and speaks English.

General Travel Information

Kawanabe Kyosai Memorial Museum Official Web Site

How to get to the Kawanabe Kyosai Memorial Museum

The museum is located on a residential street and it takes about 20 minutes on foot from the JR Nishi Kawaguchi Station 西川口駅 on the JR Keihin Tohoku Line. You can go by bus or taxi from the station. For details, please see their official website.
About 20-min train fride between Ueno and Nishi Kawaguchi.

Google Maps: Kawanabe Kyosan Memorial Museum, Nishi-kawaguchi, Saitama prefecture