Sanzo Wada
Sanzo Wada graduated from the Western-style painting division of Tokyo School of Fine Arts. Studied in Europe 1907-1915; traveled to India and Burma. Appointed Member Imperial Arts Academy in 1927 and taught at Tokyo School of Fine arts from 1927.

According to Shinagawa Kiyoomi, editor-in-chief of the book of paintings in print "Dia Nihon Gyorui Gashuu" by Ohno Bakufu, Sanzo Wada wanted to make a series of prints that expressed the rapid modernisation that Japan was experiencing in the 1930s. As an example of this modernisation, he chose to depict workers in Showa-era occupations, not just those occupations of recent times, but also those traditional occupations that were gradually disappearing.

To do this, Wada brought together woodblock print printers and carvers from as far away as Kyoto and Tokyo, and housed them and their families in a lodging house that he purchased in Nishinomiya near Kobe. The publication of this series by Nishinomiya Sho-In, called "Japanese Vocations in Pictures" (Showa Shokugyo E-Zukushi, or 昭和職業絵尽 in Japanese script) commenced in Showa 13 (1938), and it was Wada's plan to publish 2 new prints every month until a total of 100 designs had been completed. His prints often appeared in the main Japanese newspapers, and Asahi Newspaper even used their resident woodblock print artist Yoshida to critique Wada's work. This series by Wada became an instant hit, and orders for his prints flooded in, not just from customers in mainland Japan, but also from places as far away as Karafuto (the Japanese name for Sakhalin Island), Manchuu (the pre-war Japanese name for Manchuria), and even Singapore. However, (according to Shinagawa Kiyoomi) because to the deteriorating domestic conditions due to the war, publication was suspended Showa 18 (1943).

In the end, Wada was only able to publish a total of 48 prints during the war period, as two series each containing 24 prints. New prints were indeed issued a pair at a time on a monthly basis, but perhaps due to war-time hardships there were no prints published in some months. After the war, Kyoto Hanga-In continued the series under the name "Continuing Japanese Vocations in Pictures", with 24 scenes being published (during the period 1954 to 1956), so the originally planned issue of a total of 100 scenes was not fulfilled. I have been able to confirm that the pre-war series were limited-editions of 300 prints per scene. The first pair of prints were issued in June 1939, and the latest confirmed date for prints 21 and 22 from the second series were issued in June 1941. Soon after Wada issued a limited edition set in a deluxe album containing all 48 prints.

The third series published in the 1950s by Kyoto Hanga-In entitled "Continuing Japanese Vocations in Pictures" (Zoku Showa Shokugyo Ezukushi) was also issued as a limited-edition series. The earliest print date that I can confirm is November 1954, and the latest date that I can confirm is June 1956. If we assume there was one new design printed every month, then 11/1954 to 10/1956 is a possible 2-year range. However, I know of at least one example where two prints were published in the same month ('Casual Labourer' and 'Making Taiko Drums', November 1955) so even 'one print per month' cannot be assumed. I think it is most likely that prints were issued and sold in pairs generally on a monthly basis, but as per the original pre-war series, in some months no prints were issued.

I have prints from this series available here.


Japanese Vocations in Pictures   昭和職業絵尽
Inn for Sailors (Funayado) Gasoline Service Soldiers Quarters (Heishi Kyuusoku) Pilgrim (Junrei) Picture Story Show (Kamishibai)
Inn for Sailors Gasoline Service Soldiers Quarters Pilgrim Picture Story Show
Goldfish Shop (Kingyoya) Zen priest of the Fuke Sect (Komusou) Fish Shop (Sakana Uri) Salaryman Lathe Operator (Senbankou)
Goldfish Shop Zen priest of the Fuke sect Fish Shop Salaryman Lathe Operator
Professional Tennis Player (Teikyuu Senshuu) Horse Shoe Maker Artist of Western Music (Yougakushi) Bath House (Furoya)
Professional Tennis Player Horse Shoe Maker (?) Artist of Western Music Bath House
Shoe Repair, Shoe Cleaning (utsu Naoshi, Kutsu Migaki) Farming Family (Nouka) Oden Stall (Odenya) Sake Distiller (Sake Touji) Fishing Pond (Tsuribori)
Shoe Repair, Shoe Cleaning Farming Family Oden Stall Sake Distiller Fishing Pond
Professional Boxing (Kentouka) Flower Vendor Evening Paper Vendor Coal Vendor (Sumiya) Blacksmith (Kaji)
Professional Boxing Flower Vendor Evening Paper Vendor Coal Vendor Blacksmith
Salvation Army (KyuuSeiGun) Kendou Instructor (Kendou Shihan) Sword Sharpener (Togishi) Stone Mason (Sekkou) Female Hairdresser (Onna Gami Yui)
Salvation Army Kendou Instructor Sword Sharpener Stone Mason Female Hairdresser
Iron Worker (Tekkou) Women Weaving (Orime) Soba Vendor (Soba no Demae Mochi) Fisherman (Gyoshi) Dancer (Dansa-)
Iron Worker Women Weaving Soba Vendor Fisherman Dancer
Cook (Kokku) Milking (Chichi Shibori) Potter (Toukou) Riverboat Captain (Kawafune Kashira)
Cook Milking Potter Riverboat Captain
Japanese Vocations in Pictures - Continued
Taiko Drum Maker Monks (Souryo) Casual Labourer (Hi-Yatoi Roudousha) Day Labourers
Taiko Drum Maker

Monks (Souryo) Shoe Cleaning Day Labourers

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Literature sources used for artist biographies:

© Dr Ross F. Walker.