Mountaineer in My Heart Woodcut Prints of Azechi Umetaro

Planned Exhibition

Mountaineer (Ⅱ), 1953

Overview of the Exhibition

Many works by Azechi Umetaro (1902-99), who has been dubbed the Printmaker of Mountaineering, feature the expressive faces of mountaineers.
His woodcuts depict these men’s rising spirits before climbing the mountains, the joy of encountering ptarmigans in harsh outdoor environments, and the deep blue sky found at the summit of a peak. Azechi, who consistently portrayed in his prints those things that had made an impression on him during his own excursions into the mountains, described them as “the mountaineers in my heart.” Focusing primarily on his Mountaineer series of prints, the exhibition will feature around 100 works by Azechi, who was made an honorary citizen of Machida City in 1997.


After the war, I began to feel that there was a certain emptiness in merely depicting mountain landscapes, so I began creating woodcuts of mountaineers, but rather than modern, sporty mountaineers, I portrayed mountaineers who truly loved the mountains themselves. I have often been asked who the models for my woodcuts are, which is disappointing. The answer might be, there could never be a model for these works. They are the mountaineers in my heart.
Azechi Umetaro, Feelings upon Going Home to the Mountains, 1972

Azechi Umetaro (1902-99) was dubbed the Printmaker of Mountaineering. Inspired by his own experiences of walking in the mountains, Azechi’s works remain beloved by people of all ages today. He moved to Machida’s Tsurukawa district in the mid-1970s and spent his twilight years here, being made an honorary citizen of Machida City in 1997.

Born in rural Ehime, Azechi left his hometown at the age of 16 and worked in a variety of jobs before beginning to make woodcut prints. He learned from pioneers and other adherents of the sosaku-hanga movement focused on creative woodcuts and, after producing work portraying both urban and rural scenery, eventually found the theme that most inspired him: mountains. On wooden blocks that were comparatively modest in size, he depicted the large, powerful forms of peaks such as Mount Asama and Mount Ishizuchi, establishing his reputation as the Printmaker of Mountaineering.

Mt. Myogi, 1940

Small Snowy Valley, 1955

What transformed the scenes produced by Azechi was the appearance of mountaineers in his work. People familiar with the mountain scenes portrayed in his previous work were astonished when his print Mountaineer was unveiled at the autumn 1952 exhibition of the Kokugakai (National Painting Society). The unsophisticated, warm character of the mountaineer captured people’s hearts and Mountaineer became synonymous with Azechi’s work.

Azechi was a printmaker who constantly sought to move forward in pursuit of his own ideas about expression and design. As he grew older, he continued diligently seeking to depict the things that moved him, even as forms of artistic expression came and went with the times. Focused primarily on the Mountaineer series of prints, this exhibition of 100 works explores what Azechi hoped to convey through his mountaineers.




















Name of Exhibition Mountaineer in My Heart Woodcut Prints of Azechi Umetaro
Duration Saturday, July 6 – Monday, September 23 (national holiday), 2019
*Closed Mondays, open on July 15, August 12, September 16, and September 23 (national holidays), and the following Tuesday will be closed.
Weekdays 10:00-17:00 (last admission: 16:30) 
Weekends and national holidays 10:00-17:30 (last admission: 17:00)
Venue Temporary Exhibition Room 1, Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts
15 minutes on foot from Machida Station on the Odakyu Line / JR Yokohama Line
Admission fee Adults ¥800 (¥600) / University and high school students, and those aged 65 or above ¥400 (¥300) / Junior high school students and below free of charge
・Admission fee also includes entry to the exhibition “Imprint” MACHIDA 2019 –Tanaka Sho– The Miraculous Origins of the Great Machida Styrax Japonica.
・Fees shown in parentheses are for groups of 20 or more
・Half price for visitors who bring a Physical Disability Certificate, Rehabilitation Certificate, or Mental Disability Certificate, and one person accompanying them
・Admission is free of charge on the first day of the exhibition (Saturday, July 6)

Related Events

Lecture: Azechi Umetaro and Machida

Lecturer: Kouno Minoru (former curator, Machida City Museum of Graphic Arts)
Date and time: Saturday, August 3, 13:30-15:00
Venue: 1F Auditorium
Maximum capacity: 100 people; free of charge, no prior application required

Special Gallery Talk

Lecturer: Azechi Kenji (grandson of Azechi Umetaro; Atelier U)
Date and time: From 14:00, Wednesday, July 31 (about 40 minutes)
Venue: 2F Temporary Exhibition Room 1 *Exhibition ticket required

Songs of the Mountains

Saturday, July 27 Hiroki Okumura
Sunday, September 15 Hiroshi Oishi, Tsukasa Sasaki, Yohei Masaki
Each performance begins at 14:00 and lasts about 30 minutes
2F Temporary Exhibition Room 1 *Exhibition ticket required

Readings from Azechi’s Essays

Date and time: From 14:00, Saturday, August 10 (about 30 minutes)
Venue: 2F Temporary Exhibition Room 1 *Exhibition ticket required

Gallery Talk by the Exhibition Curator

Date and time: From 14:00, Monday, July 15 (national holiday; about 30 minutes)
Venue: 2F Temporary Exhibition Room 1 *Exhibition ticket required

Which Mountaineer Are You Backing? Summer Vacation! General Election of Mountaineers

Saturday, July 20 – Sunday, September 1
Vote for your favorite mountaineer!

Promenade Concert: A Piano Exploration of the World’s Mountain Landscapes

Pianist: Yuumi Yamaguchi
Date and time: (1) 13:00 (2) 15:00, Saturday, July 13 (each performance lasts about 30 minutes)
Venue: Entrance Hall
*While everyone is welcome to attend, please note that seats will not be provided.

Summer Vacation! Try Your Hand at Woodcuts (for elementary and junior high school students)

14:00-16:00, Friday, July 26 (takes about 10 minutes)
1F Auditorium
First 70 children to arrive; free of charge, no prior application required
Please note that you may need to wait if it is crowded.
Offered in partnership with the Printmaking Course at Joshibi University of Art and Design

2019 Children’s Workshop: Print Your Own Reproduction Ukiyo-e (for elementary and junior high school students)

14:00-16:00, Saturday, August 31 (takes about 5 minutes)
1F Atelier
First 40 children to arrive; ¥100, no prior application required
Please note that you may need to wait if it is crowded.

On at the same time in Temporary

Exhibition Room 2: “Imprint” MACHIDA 2019 –Tanaka Sho– The Miraculous Origins of the Great Machida Styrax Japonica
Permanent Collection Room: Colleagues of Young Azechi Umetaro—Japanese Prints of the 1930s-40s


町田市立国際版画美術館 〒194-0013 東京都町田市原町田4-28-1 連絡先 電話 042-726-2771/0860/2889