Born in Tokyo, Yoshitoshi Mori studied at the Kawabata School of the Fine Arts, where he focused on textile design and dyeing with the use of stencils. He became a leading member of the mingei (folk craft) movement, which celebrated adherence to tradition and emphasized the value, functionality, and beauty of handcrafted, everyday utilitarian objects. It wasn’t until 1960 that Mori began making prints on paper, employing his expertise with stencils to perfect a technique called kappazuri. A key stencil, essentially a main outline, is printed first. Next, a dye-resistant paste is applied to the paper in any areas that are not to be colored. For each individual color of the print, a separate stencil is employed and filled in. This difficult and time-consuming process results in a limited number of prints drawn from any one set of stencils.
Mori’s growing celebrity in the late 1950s resulted in opportunities to travel across Japan. Inspired by the small towns, marketplaces, and festivals he saw on his travels, he created a series of prints depicting traditional forms of Japanese architecture and another showing festivals. In 1970, at age 72, a European journey reawakened Mori’s memories of his travels in Japan. His nostalgia led him to begin altering and reprinting his designs from the late 1950s, and to create new prints in the same style. The festival image captures the spirit of Japanese tradition and revelry. Combining many characters and objects into one fluid form, this composition elicits a strong sense of camaraderie among the performers.