"Otsu-e" literally means pictures of the city Otsu.
Otsu is located next to Kyoto, and one of the cities which has a long histrory in Japan.

Otsu-e were first painted in the early Edo Period (17th century) in Otsu City, Otani Oiwake district.
The picures which were painted by unknown artists were sold as souvenirs to travelers along the Old Tokaido Highway.
As the pictures were first painted in the Otani, Oiwake district of Otsu they were originally known as Otani-e or Oiwake-e, however as times passed they gradually came to be called Otsu-e.

In the very beggining, Otsu-e were sold as religious paintings of Buddah to be hung in the homes of the less wealthy as objects of worship.
Later these pictures expanded into the realm of Ukiyo-e style painting, with pictures of beautiful women being very popular. The pictures which gained most popularity among them, were of a humorous or of satirical nature.

In order to produce pictures more rapidly and cheaply, a variety of tecniques were employed such as compasses, a ruler, stencil plates, woodblock prints and more.

Otsu-e has remained bound to tradition, and even up to the present we still find the same type of pictures that were being produced in the Edo period.
Although the number of the titles of Otsu-e shifts with times, their designs are never changed.

The paintings of Otsu-e was handed down from father to son and therefore Shozan Takahasi 4th & 5th still can produce current Otsu-e.

Otsu-e shops in the Edo period

There existed around ten shops of Otsu-e at that time.




History of Otsue
Shozan Takahashi
"Oni" of Otsue