平塚運一(1885〜1997*)【Unichi Hiratsuka】

Unichi Hiratsuka, a famous woodblock artist, was born in Matsue in November of 1885. His father was a shrine carpenter (Miya Daiku). This is probably where his interest in wood carving started. “Following in his father’s footsteps,” so to speak.


In 1913, he began his career by working for City Hall. While there he received a couple of inspirational lectures from his supervisor, and decided to go into the field of art. Manyoshu, old Japanese poetry and, Toshisen, old Chinese poetry, seem to have had a great effect on his life and work.


Later, his skill as an artist was recognized by his art teacher, Hakutei Ishii, and he decided to become a painter. In 1915, he went to Tokyo and studied sketching at the Kawabata School, and at the same time, studied woodblock carving at Bonkotsu Igami’s School of Woodblock Carving.


These experiences laid the groundwork for his later career as a woodblock print carver, painter, and printer.


He came back to Matsue in 1917, and married Hideno Hanamori. I think the best wives are from the Sanin Area.Mine is, too. In 1918, he became an art teacher at Matsue Tsuda Elementary School. While there, he was asked to give advice to potters, Kasuri weavers, and Yakumo Nuri lacquer designers in Shimane Prefecture.

1917年、松江に帰った運一は花森英野と結婚します。奥さんにするなら山陰の女性です。もちろん私の家内もそうです。 1918年、運一は美術の教師として津田小学校に勤務します。このとき、島根県内で活動する陶芸家、かすり職人、八雲塗り職人たちへの指導も依頼されています。

In 1925, he began studying Buddhist woodblock prints, and collecting them. He also studied ancient roof tile designs and over a period of many years, he gathered unique and famous Buddhist woodblock prints and Musashi Kokubunji roof tiles.


These collections are very valuable. Shiko Munakata, a famous painter and woodblock printer, began to study art under Hiratsuka in 1927, and together they published a magazine called, “Han.”

このコレクションは、たいへん価値のあるものです。 著名な版画家で画家の棟方志功も、1927年、運一の下で美術の勉強を始め、二人は同人誌「版」を発行しています。

Unichi Hiratsuka, was the first woodblock teacher at the Tokyo Art School, which later became the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music.


In 1943, he was invited to teach at the Beijin National Art School of China. Feeling a love for his home town of Matsue, he returned, and in 1946, established the Matsue Art and Craft Institute, with the help and assistance of Choemon Tanabe.

1943年には、北京国立美術学校に招聘され教えています。 その後、ふるさとへの望郷の念から1946年松江に戻り、田部長右衛門の助力を得て松江工芸学校を設立しました。

In 1962, he moved his school to Washington, D.C., in the U.S.A. He has had many individual exhibitions in the Washington Contemporary Art Museum, and the Virginia Art Museum. He opened ink painting (sumie), and woodblock classes at his home, and in various schools.


Mr. Hiratsuka received the Third Class of the Order of the Sacred Treasure, from the Japanese Government in 1977. He had an individual exhibit in Matsue in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Shimane Prefectural Museum. The exhibit included, woodblock prints, sketches, water color paintings, oil paintings, and his life history to the age of 65.

1977年には、日本政府から勲三等瑞宝章を贈られています。 島根県立博物館の設立20周年を記念して、個展が開催された際、木版画、スケッチ、水彩画、油絵、そして運一のそれまでの65年の経歴が展示されました。

He has had many exhibitions, and is now over the age of 90! He now lives in Washington D.C. , and still works actively there. In Hiratsuka’s 75-year career as an artist, he opened numbers of woodblock classes all over Japan.

数多くの展覧会を開いてきた平塚運一も、既に90歳を超えています。現在はワシントンD・Cに在住し、今なお精力的に制作に取り組んでいます。 75年に及ぶ作家人生の中で、平塚運一は日本中で木版画教室を開いてきました。

He is the last woodblock artist to continue the traditional Japanese woodblock techniques. Who will continue them when he is no longer with us?


* This article was written before Unichi Hiratsuka passed away in 1997.

※ この記事は、平塚運一氏が逝去される1997年以前に書かれたものです。

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