Miyata Saburō

Photo of artist 1984

Miyata Saburō 宮田三郎 (1924-2013)


Sources: Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975, Helen Merritt, University of Hawaii Press, 1992, p. 93; http://www.city.komoro.lg.jp/news-institution/2015070800076/; http://www.koumi-town.jp/museum/exhibition/miyata3.htm; https://www.town.sakuho.nagano.jp/kurashi/bunka/bunka/shogaigakushuka_984.html; 近代日本版 画家名 (1900-1945) [Artist Names: Modern Japanese Printmakers], Hanga-do, Tokyo http://www.hanga-do.com/img/Hangadomeiran107B.pdf  

While some information is available on the life of the artist Miyata Saburō (most of it in Japanese), I could find no information on how he learned the print arts and to create woodblock prints.  He may well have been largely self-taught.  His major work, created over a period of fourteen years from 1970 to 1984, was a twelve volume series of twenty prints each of self-carved and self-printed woodblock prints depicting the scenery of Japan titled Miyata Saburō mokuhanga shū, Nihon no fūkei (Miyata Saburō Collection of Woodblock Prints, Scenery of Japan). (See below for a photo of the third collection as issued.) After the twelve volumes were finished, he created two additional collections of scenes of Shinshū Province (now Nagano Prefecture) for a total of fourteen volumes.  In remarks on the artist’s 2016 posthumous exhibition of landscapes, the Komagane Kogen Art Museum tells us that Saburō wanted to produce these prints before the scenes they depict were “gradually lost to the world through the destruction of the environment.”  

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宮田三郎木版画集―日本の風景・信州 第三集 (1971年)

Miyata Saburō Mokuhanga shū Nihon no fūkei・Shinshū, Collection Number 3,1971

Miyata Saburō was born in 1924 (Taisho 13) in Miasa Village, Kitaazumi-gun, Nagano Prefecture, now Omachi City. After graduating from Nagano Prefecture’s normal school (a teachers’ college) in 1945, he worked as a teacher in Omachi until 1947, when he resigned due to illness.  He moved to Tokyo following the war to work at his brother’s art supply store in Shibuya-ku.  While working there he opened the Tokyo Hanga Institute, also referred to as the Tokyo Print Research Institute (Tokyo Hanga Kenkyūsho 東京版画研究所) to develop new materials for printmaking.

Over the years he exhibited his oil paintings and watercolors at Nitten Exhibitions (the successor to the government sponsored Teiten and Bunten exhibitions), Issuikai exhibitions (an organization of Western-style realist artists) and the Nihon Suisaigakai (Japan Watercolor Society). He exhibited his prints with the the Nihon Hanga Kyōkai (Japan Print Association), which he was also a member of, and in various international print exhibitions, including those held in Paris, Switzerland, São Paulo and Krakow.  

From 1959 to 1962, Miyata suffered health problems and in 1962 a fire destroyed his atelier and home and he stopped creating or exhibiting any work.  When he returned to printmaking he pursued a path independent of any art organizations.

From 1970 onward, he spent more than ten years with the goal of completing one series/collection each year of scenic views of Japan, leading to Nihon fūkei (Scenery of Japan), 12 sets, plus an additional series Zoku Shinshū (Shinshū, Continued) and Zoku zoku Shinshū (Shinshū, Completed Part II), for a total of 14 sets/series. The prints making up this collection have been described by art critic Yasuo Kamon 嘉門安雄 (1913-2007) as being "drawn not with lines but with surfaces and without shadows, his paintings are plain and simple."

In 1983-1984 the artist published a compendium of his work in five limited edition volumes titled Miyata Saburō mokuhanga zenshū 宮田三郎木版画全集 (The Complete Woodblock Prints of Miyata Saburō) and in 1984 he was awarded the Medal with Dark Blue Ribbon awarded by the Cabinet Office, Government of Japan.

In 2006 he was made an honorary citizen of Sakuho town (in Nagano Prefecture).

In 2016 and 2017 two exhibitions of his prints were held in his home prefecture featuring his landscape prints, the posters from which are reproduced below.

Miyata passed away on November 20, 2013 at the age of 89.

Komagane Kogen Art Museum “Miyata Saburo Woodblock Exhibition,” 2016 

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Sakuho Town, Nagano Lifelong Learning Center

"The 29th Miyata Saburō Wooblock Exhibition", 2017

Source: https://www.town.sakuho.nagano.jp/kurashi/bunka/bunka/shogaigakushuka_984.html

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宮田三郎木版画展 みすずかる信濃の国

Miyata Saburō hangaten Misuzu karu Shinano no kuni

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宮田三郎木版画展 みすずかる信濃の国

Miyata Saburō hangaten Misuzu karu Shinano no kuni

The Artist's Seal Present on All His Prints

The artist's round seal contains the kana characters for his name consisting of ミヤタ サブロウ.  The reading of the black character partially superimposed is likely the kana character or "sa". 

Prints in Collection

click on thumbnail for print details