Iwasa Matabei

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  • Born: 1578
  • Died: 1650
  • Other Names: Iwasa Katsumochi
  • Japanese: 岩佐又兵衛 (Iwasa Matabei)

Iwasa Matabei was among the pioneers of ukiyo-e ("Pictures of the Floating World") painting. Originally a student of the Tosa and Kanô schools of painting, at some point in the early 17th century, he left the school to pursue a more popular (commoner) style of painting, producing genre paintings and other works often considered to be either among the earliest works of ukiyo-e, or significant forerunners to true ukiyo-e.

The son of a Sengoku period warlord whose family was destroyed by Oda Nobunaga in 1579, Matabei studied under masters of both the Tosa and Kanô schools, developing an expert hand at both Chinese and Japanese styles of painting. At some point early in the 17th century, he was commissioned by Matsudaira Tadanao (lord of Echizen han and grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu) to produce works for the wedding trousseau of a daughter of Tokugawa Iemitsu.[1]

The eponymous character of Matahei in Chikamatsu Monzaemon's play Domo-mata is based on Matabei.


  • Timon Screech, Obtaining Images, University of Hawaii Press (2012), 24.
  1. Christine Guth, Art of Edo Japan, Yale University Press (1996), 98.