One of the first generation of Western-style painters in Japan, Asai learned the basic academic skills from Italain teacher Antonio Fontanesi in Tokyo in the 1870s. Sent to France from 1899 to 1902 under the auspices of a grant from the Ministry of Education, Asai spent three months in a suburb of Paris, Grez-sur-Loing, painting outdoors as his friend and colleague Kuroda Seiki (lot 260) had done a decade earlier. The plein air landscapes he completed there and upon his return to Japan are his greatest achievements. Neither exotic nor academic renditions of nature, they are personal interpretations of specific places. Asai's students include two outstanding artists of the interwar period, Yasui Sotaro and Umehara Ryusaburo (lot 267).