Showa woodblock printing
Okuyama Gihachiro studied art under Kosaka Gajin. In the 1920s he made commercial designs for different companies - posters and advertising labels. In 1931 he established his own advertising company.
Parallel to these commercial activities, Okuyama Gihachiro was active in the sosaku hanga and shin hanga movement and worked and exhibited with other artists in different and changing associations.
In the 1930s and the 1940s the situation for Japanese artists and Western artists working in Japanese style like Elizabeth Keith or Paul Jacoulet became pretty difficult. The United States was an important market. With the beginning of the great depression after the crash of the stock markets in 1929, the demands for Japanese prints from overseas dwindled. And when the economic recovery set in, the rising tensions between Japan and the US had completely eroded the North American market for Japanese goods.
The second world war made things even worse. Materials necessary to work became scarce. During wartime, the sosaku hanga and shin hanga artists organized in Nihon Hanga Hokokai, a wartime organization.
After the end of World War II the situation normalized rapidly for artists in Japan. The economy recovered and many American soldiers stationed in Japan discovered the charm of Japanese prints or bought them as souvenirs or gifts for their loved ones at home.
In 1946 Okuyama Gihachiro established a publishing company, Nihon Hanga Kenkyusho - the Japan Print Institute. Gihachiro continued to be involved both in the commercial sector and in creating artistic prints.
After the war, he designed mainly landscape prints. At the end of his life he had created more than 1,000 prints, in sosaku hanga and shin hanga style.