Born in 1844 in Kyoto, Kono Bairei was one of the leading practitioners of the ukiyo-e school devoted to pictures of birds and flowers (kacho-ga) in the Meiji period. He was originally named Yasuda Bairei. Unlike the majority of ukiyo-e artists, he was trained as a classical Japanese painter, studying with several masters of various classical painting styles.
As a child, Bairei studied with Nakajima Raisho and in his late twenties, with Shiokawa Bunrin. Bairei was instrumental in the founding of the Kyoto Prefectural School of Painting and after the school was underway, he opened his own studio and began to teach.
Though at first he only did woodblock prints as an afterthought, Bairei eventually illustrated books and produced a number of series of prints. His prints are often found bound into volumes, either as four separate volumes or two volumes for spring/summer and autumn/winter. He used four different engravers and the publisher was Okura Magobei. A second, posthumous edition was published in 1899 and another series, “One Hundred Flowering Plants” was published in 1901. In 1893 Bairei became a member of the Art Committee of the Imperial Household.