Hasui Kawase was born with the given name of “Bunjiro” in Tokyo. As a child he learned to paint in the Western style. His first teacher, Saburosuke Okada taught him watercolor and oil painting. When he was twenty-six, Hasui tried to gain acceptance as a student of Kiyokata Kaburagi, but he was rejected for being too old. When he tried again two years later, he was accepted as a student and as Kiyokata recognized his talent, he introduced Hasui to Watanabe Shozaburo.
From 1918 to 1923, Hasui created over one hundred woodblock prints, all published by Shozaburo. Most of these prints were exported to the United States and in 1923, when Japan was hit by one of the worst earthquakes in history, Hasui’s print shop, and everything in it, was destroyed. Essentially Hasui had to start over from scratch and he produced more than 400 woodblock designs for Watanabe before his death in 1957.
A master of landscape prints, Hasui became famous for his night scenes and scenes of snow and rain. He rarely used people as subjects. Hasui was named a Living National Treasure by the Japanese government in 1956.