Morita Hisashi

Morita Hisashi 森田久  or 森田ひさし (active c. 1910s-1930s)  


Source: [accessed 11-16-23]; Dangerous Beauties and Dutiful Wives: Popular Portraits of Women in Japan, 1905-1925, Kendall Brown, Dover Publications, Inc., 2011.

Morita was a yōga-trained artist who worked as a reporter, illustrator and art director.  He contributed illustrations to numerous popular magazines in the late Meiji and Taishō era.  His illustrations also appeared in a number of serialized novels.  His illustrations were primarily of the bijin-ga genre and they appeared in mass culture magazines such as Kōdan Kurabo, Kōdan zasshi, Fujokai, Jogaku sekai and in serialized novels.  It is reported that his illustrations for a serialized novel appearing in the Yomiuri shinbun in 1921 were the first such illustrations to actually identify the illustrator by name.1  Among the novels he is credited with creating illustrations for is the serialized version of Shōnen kagaku tantei (Boy Science Detective) by Kosakai Fuboku (1890-1929).

Morita served as the art director for the all-girl Takarazuka Revue 宝塚歌劇 at the Hibiya Theater in Tokyo and is credited with the stage design for the very popular 1927 revue Mon Pari. His work as art director was lucrative and allowed him to construct a Western-style building in the so-called Ikebukuro Montparnasse, an area on the edge of Tokyo whose cheap rents after the 1923 attracted many artists and was to become an avant garde cultural community.  

There are no known woodblock prints designed by the artist. His designs for popular magazines and serialized novels were generally mass reproduced by lithography or by offset printing. As stated by Kendall Brown in Dangerous Beauties and Dutiful Wives, “These technologies were not simply expedient means of mass production, but, in fact, were part of a visual revolution that included the desire to reproduce perfectly the images crated by designers, the skilled artistry of master printers, and the creation of luxury prints meant to function as de facto works of art.”

1 Literarische Bilderwelten des 20. Jahrhunderts: Internationale Buchgraphik in Europa und Übersee aus der Sammlung v. Kritter : Wort und Bild als Medium zeitgenössischer Kulturen, Inge von Kritter, et. al., Bad Homburg vor der Höhe : U. v. Kritter, 1993-2009, p. 28.

Cover of the first Shōnen kagaku tantei 少年科学探偵 (Boy Science Detective), 1926

by Morita Hisashi

Cover designs of the Takarazuka Revue by Morita Hisashi

Sample Signatures and Seals of the Artist




Prints in Collection

click on thumbnail for print details