Shinsui Biography

Shinsui was born "Hajime" at Fukugawa in downtown Tokyo on February 4, 1898.  His family initially enjoyed the economic benefits of the Sino-Japanese War boom, but while he was in elementary school, their fortunes changed and Shinsui had to leave school to work, first at a sign shop and then as a factory hand at the Tokyo Printing Company.  Sjhinsui's talent in drawing and painting led him to an apprenticeship in the design section of the company in 1911, and through its senior staff he was introduced to Kaburagi Kiyokata (1878 - 1972), a genre artist known particularly for his images of beautiful women.  Kiyokata is credited with elevating the traditional ukiyo-e genre to a legitimate category of modern nihonga painting.  On taking the aspiring young painter (Hajime) under his wing, Kiyokata have him the art name Shinsui.    
For further reading, see Seven Masters, 20th Century Japanese Prints from the Wells Collection, Minneapolis Art Institute 2015 Exhibition Catalog, Chiaki Ajioka, Essay on Ito Shinsui, at p. 99 - 103