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Topic November 2013

Hiroshige's early musha-e

It is often stated Hiroshige started designing musha-e following Kuniyoshi’s succesful warrior prints. However, Hiroshige made most of his ichimai-e and nimai tsuzuki musha-e in the period 1818-1830. They must have been a modest succes because several prints are known in different states by different publishers. His musha-e after 1830 are mostly sanmai tsuzuki from the years 1844-1848 and are found in Suzuki’s catalogue under musha-e. Uchida however, considered Hiroshige’s later musha-e as rekishi-ga with the exception of the rare collaboration with his pupil Shigenobu in a nimai tsuzuki titled ‘Onzōshi Ushiwakamaru and Musashibō Benkei’.

1 Sasaki Takatsuna, bunsei zenki, publisher unknown, ichimai, aiban 2 Akamatsu Danjô, bunsei zenki, Iwatoya, ichimai, aiban 3 Gorô Tokimune and Kobayashi Yoshihide, bunsei shoki, Kawashô, ichimai, aiban 4 Gorô Tokimune and Kobayashi Yoshihide, bunsei shoki, Hiranoya Chôemon, ichimai, aiban 5 Onzôshi Ushiwakamaru and Musashibô Benkei, 1854, Tsujiyasu, nimai tsuzuki, ôban

Furthermore a lot of influences from different artists like Katsukawa Shunei and Utagawa Toyokuni are visible in Hiroshige’s early musha-e. Interestingly, according to an article in the magazine The Sun Series (no.131, 1974, p 20), Hiroshige was inspired by his teacher Utagawa Toyohiro.

6 Taira no Tadamori, Eijudô, ichimai, ôban 7 Utagawa Toyohiro - Asaiina shimameguri no ki, 1815-27, Bunkindô
  1. Sasaki Takatsuna, bunsei zenki, publisher unknown, ichimai, aiban
  2. Akamatsu Danjō, bunsei zenki, Iwatoya, ichimai, aiban
  3. Gorō Tokimune and Kobayashi Yoshihide, bunsei shoki, Kawashō, ichimai, aiban
  4. Gorō Tokimune and Kobayashi Yoshihide, bunsei shoki, Hiranoya Chōemon, ichimai, aiban
  5. Onzōshi Ushiwakamaru and Musashibō Benkei, 1854, Tsujiyasu, nimai tsuzuki, ōban
  6. Taira no Tadamori, Eijudō, ichimai, ōban
  7. Utagawa Toyohiro - Asaina shimameguri no ki, 1815-27, Bunkindō

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Topic September 2012

The subject of this topic is a relatively unknown series in the yotsugiri format, published by Iwatoya around 1818. Uchida mentions the following 10 prints in his catalogue on page 62:

1 女三番叟, 2 女衛士, 3 布晒し, 4 梅やしき, 5 藤見, 6 潮干狩, 7 萩園, 8 柳橋, 9 松風村雨 *, 10 三園の雪道 *

Matsukaze Murasame Mimeguri yukimichi children with flowercart
children with snowball snow Daruma women by a gate in the rain

The Waseda University Library holds an album by Iijima Kyoshin titled ‘Gahin’ with 5 prints from this series: http://www.wul.waseda.ac.jp/kotenseki/html/chi05/chi05_03771/index.html. Another print can be found in the database of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts: http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/women-by-a-gate-on-a-rainy-night-279126.

Considering the fact that there are already 4 prints that are not mentioned in Uchida and this is a series in the yotsugiri format, there should be 16 or even more prints.

*These prints are in the ‘Gahin’ album at Waseda University Library

Comments topic September 2012

Guy Pepermans

January 27, 2013

Guy Pepermans found this print “Yatsuhashi” on a Japanese auction website.


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Topic September 2011

A Thousand Kachōga

The number of kachōga is still not clear. Most western sources bring the number of designs to 600. Ōkubo estimates the total amount at around 1000 prints.1 Part of the problem is the fact that most small-size prints are classified under different formats and some museums give only outer measurements including what is left of the border.

The print below ‘Hototogisu’ has the following formats and measurements:

Ōta kinen bijutsukan : kokonotsugiri, 11,2 x 16,5 cm.2
Yomigaeru bi : koban, 12,2 x 18,2 cm.3
Website Museum of Fine Arts, Boston : yotsugiri, 10 x 16 cm (link).
Hiroshige: Birds and Flowers : koban, 12,1 x 18,2 cm.4
Website Honolulu Academy of Arts : 11,9 x 16,1 cm (link).

The following incomplete list of kachōga in my database of online images is a result of combining all data:

yotsugiriban tate-e
yotsugiriban yoko-e
kokonotsugiriban yoko-e
ōban yoko-e
chūban yoko-e
chūban tate-e
aiban yoko-e
koban tate-e
ōban tate-e
tate nimai tsugi



1Ōkubo Junichi, ‘Utagawa Hiroshige no kachōga ni tsuite’, Museum, 494/5 (1992), pp. 23-36

2Ōta kinen bijutsukan, Hiroshige kachōgaten, Tōkyō, 1997

3Kobayashi Tadashi, Yomigaeru bi: hana to tori to, Tōkyō, 1990

4C.J. Bogel and I. Goldman, Hiroshige: Birds and Flowers, New York, 1988

Comments topic September 2011

Sarah E. Thompson (Assistant Curator for Japanese Prints, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

September 30, 2011

I see that I am one of the sources of confusion, since I called the little print of the cuckoo by Hiroshige, MFA 21.8602, “yotsugiri” rather than “kokonotsugiri” as in the 1998 Ōta kinen bijutsukan catalogue or “koban” as in other sources. The problem is that yotsugiri and kokonotsugiri are almost the same size: 1/8 of an ōbōsho sheet (cut in a 2X4 grid) versus 1/9 of a sheet (cut in a 3X3 grid), respectively. To make matters worse, prints that have been cut apart have almost always been trimmed, so that it is nearly impossible to tell which size a small print is, unless you happen to know what the original, uncut sheet looked like. In this case I am guessing that it looked like, e.g., MFA 21.8600 and 21.8601, each of which has four similar horizontal kachōga on an uncut ōban sheet.

Using the term “koban” for anything smaller than chūban is one way of getting around the problem, but it is confusing since koban is also a specific, standard size, namely half of aiban. I think the trend now is to avoid using koban in the general sense, but you find it often in older sources.

According to Ukiyo-e daijiten (2008), kokonotsugiri was the standard size for surimono in the Kansei to Bunka eras (about 1790s to 1810s), before shikishiban (1/6 of an ōbōsho sheet cut into a 2X3 grid, so 1.5 times the size of kokonotsugiri) became popular. I notice that the 1998 Ōta Museum catalogue does not use the term yotsugiri at all; but I’m guessing that if they did it over again now, they would. Given the date of Hiroshige’s kachōga (1830s or later), the fact that they are not surimono, and the existence of things like MFA 21.8600, I’d go for yotsugiri for these works.

Joke Pors

September 20, 2011

The harimaze-e on the list are complete harimaze prints. A cut up harimaze in tanzaku format is part of a harimaze and thus falls under harimaze-e. Most harimaze-e on the list are ishizuri-e.

As in Yomigaeru bi (see topic notes) and Hiroshige no uchiwa-e (Okuda Atsuko, 2010), fanprints with flower and bird designs as well as series like 『六花撰の内』、『四季の花尽』、『風涼夏の花園』,『花尽見立福禄寿』 and several others are included in the list.

Chris Uhlenbeck

September 18, 2011

Does a cut up harimaze print in tanzaku format count as a tanzaku kacho-e?
As for subjects on fan prints: which do you classify under kacho-ga?

Elizabeth Swinton

September 18, 2011

It is preferable to have 2 sets of measurements: image and full sheet. The examples you gave are probably the full sheet-trimmed or not.

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Topic March 2011

Imayō Benten zukushi

The topic for this month is the completion of the series ‘Imayō Benten zukushi’ from 1823. This series still seems to raise some confusion where the number of extant prints is concerned. In Umehara Munetaka’s thorough article on this series we can read that Suzuki Jūzō states there are 5 prints. Elsewhere Suzuki mentions the series consists of 12 prints. Umehara concludes that the series consists of 6 prints. In the more recent publication ‘Competition and Collaboration, Japanese Prints of the Utagawa School’, Laura Mueller still mentions 6 prints. Combined, the following 7 prints are known:

Honjo Hitotsume
Ōji Takinogawa

For Suzuki’s entries see Catalogue.

Oji Takinogawa

1Umehara Munetaka, ‘Hiroshige’s Imayô Benten zukushi’, Ukiyo-e geijutsu, no. 60, 1979.

2Laura J. Mueller, Fujisawa Akane, Kobayashi Tadashi and Ellis Tinios. Competition and Collaboration: Japanese Prints of the Utagawa School. Leiden: Hotei Publishing, 2007.

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Topic December 2010

Meizan zukushi shokoku jikkei

The uchiwa-e series ‘Meizanzukushi shokoku jikkei’, was published by Ibasen between 1843 and 1846. So far Rupert Faulkner mentions the following 9 views in ‘Hiroshige Fan Prints’:

Ōsaka Tenpōzan
Shinshū Kisoyama
Ōmi Ishiyamadera
Sanuki Zōzusan
Tōto Dōkanyama
Kyō Kitayama
Bōsō Kanōzan
Miho Fuji
Nara Mikasayama
Ise Asamayama no zu

We would like to add the print above: ‘Ise Asamayama no zu’ which brings the total to the 10 obligatory prints. However, it is possible that the series was continued.

1Rupert Faulkner, Hiroshige Fan prints, London: Victoria & Albert Museum, 2001.

Comments topic December 2010

Joke Pors

December 28, 2010

This uchiwa-e is part of a private collection.

Robert Schaap

January 18, 2011

This print is featured as entry no. 759 with a wrong title in: E. Polster, Hiroshige, exhibition catalogue, Albuquerque Museum, 1983.

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Utagawa Hiroshige