Japanese Koshiro Onchi studied the Chinese classics, spent long hours over his calligraphy, and learned the art of Noh theater, all traditional scholarly activities. He enrolled in the Tokyo School of Fine Arts in 1910, and began to study oil painting and sculpture, but he dropped out after only four months. Although Onchi was staunchly Japanese, he rebelled against many traditional Japanese art forms.
Before the war Onchi began to do Sosaku Hanga prints – as one of its founders – with his own emphasis on abstraction, and tried to keep the slowly developing Sosaku Hanga movement alive during World War II, maintaining its ideals through the war and piloted it through the early part of the Occupation. He used his social standing, wealth, and connections to obtain materials and supported many young artists in the movement during this difficult time. Onchi saw how the war had created hardship not only for painters and print makers, but also for other creative artists such as poets and musicians. While he had already experimented with abstraction, these hardships of war and their effect on Japanese reality became an important subject for him during the war years, and drove him to explore abstraction even further.