Yoshitoshi's 'Tales of the Floating World on Eastern Brocade (Azuma no nishiki ukiyo kōdan)' (1867 - 1868)


This page attempts to catalog all known prints in Yoshitoshi's series 'Azumo no Nishiki Ukiyo Kōdan (東 錦 浮世 稿談 - Tales of the Floating World on Eastern Brocade)'.

It dates from relatively early in Yoshitoshi's career, when he was about twenty-eight, almost two decades before his well-known masterpieces such as his great series "One Hundred Aspects of the Moon" (1885-1892), and "New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts" (often called simply "Thirty-Six Ghosts") (1889-1892).

The series contains popular stories (kōdon) of drama and violence by various story tellers, as retold by Kanagaki Robun ( 假名垣 魯文, although the name is now often written with the simplified first character ; 1829-1894), a native of Edo who was a writer of humorous and satirical fiction. His focus on the the contortions of Japanese society as it modernized in the Meiji period was likely a bond with Yoshitoshi, who was also interested in the challenges to Japanse society during this turbulent period.

The red cartouche in the upper corner contains the series title at the top, and at the bottom (according to Keyes), "[t]he name[] of the story teller". (We are in the process of reading all these names, and much progress has been made, but finalizing the readings, and adding the information to this page, will be left until other higher-priority tasks on the site are completed. One complicating factor is that black characters do not reproduce well against a red background in images, so high-quality images are needed before these names can be read.)

The row of characters along the left-hand edge of the main cartouche reads "tenshi Kanagaki Robun ki" ("tenshi" - roughly 'inserted text' - 塡詞 and "ki" - 'scribe' - respectively), or approximately 'text written by Kanagaki Robun'.

Cartouches within the ground identify the individuals who are shown. The prints in this series do not have titles per se, and are usually identified by the names of the individuals shown. Some prints have more than one identification cartouche; in such cases, both are given in the individual print entries below.

Technical details

Previous cataloguings

One of the first attempts to enumerate this series was in Keyes' thesis:
	Roger. S. Keyes, "Courage and Silence: A Study of the Life and
		Color Woodblock Prints of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi 1839-1892",
		Cinncinnati, 1982
where it appears as series #202; he listed 23 prints in the series. The next listing was in:
	Eric van den Ing, Robert Schaap, "Beauty and Violence: Japanese
		Prints by Yoshitoshi 1839-1892",
		Havilland, Eindhoven, 1992
where it appears as series #20 (pp. 105-107); they listed a further 4 prints (using Keyes' reference numbers for the first 23), making 27 in total. We have discovered an additional 19 prints so far, making 46 prints in all at the moment.

We use the Keyes/B+V numbers for the first 27, and have numbered the rest in the order in which we discovered them; the prints in the series do not appear to have any numbers on them.

This page (and list) is not necessarily complete; there may be yet be other prints for which we have not yet found an image. If you know of any prints from this series which aren't listed here, or have either i) information about any errors on the page, ii) better images than the ones below, or iii) missing information about individual prints (e.g. publisher, exact date, and especially the reading of any text which is not read out here), please let us know.

Also, better images of the following prints: #7, #15 would also be most useful. Of these, #15 is probably the most-needed.

The Prints

To see a larger, roughly full-screen, image of any print, please click on the thumbnail; these images are sized to produce reasonable detail (if we have an original that big), and are fairly compressed.

If we have a higher-quality image, that image can be viewed by clicking on the "Large Image" link, which gives the size of the image (for the benefit of those on slow links). Sometimes there is more than one, if our best-quality image has issues (e.g. trimmed margins).

In the readings of the kanji, characters which have not been read are shown with a large '?'; readings which are likely, but not certain (e.g. due to poor image quality) are tagged with a smaller '?'.

Thumbnail Large Image Number Date Publisher Names (Kanji) Names (Rōmaji) Comments
246KB #1 9/1867 Not given 鏝抦 半次 Kotegara Hanji The second character is usually written now.
768KB #2 9/1867 Ōmiya Kyūsuke 向疵 与三 Mukōkizu Yosa Kōmori Yasu seems to be a sobriquet, meaning 'Yasu the Bat'. Interestingly, the first character of the name 'Yasu' also means 'bat'!
蝙 蝠安 Kōmori Yasu
954KB #3 9/1867 Ōmiya Kyūsuke 藪原 撿挍 Yabuhara Kengyō
847KB #4 9/1867 Sanoya Tomigorō 畔倉 十四郎 Azekura Jūshirō
火の玉 乃 三五郎 Hinodama no Sangorō
876KB #5 9/1867 Sanoya Tomigorō 曲木 平九郎 Magaki Heikurō
#6 9/1867 Masudaya Ginjirō 祐天 沙弥 Yūten Shami Fudō Myōō, one of the five great deities, threatening the young priest Yūten Shami (1637-1718)
#7 9/1867 Yamashirō-ya Jinbei 日本 駝右衛門 Nihon Daemon
黒馬 權正 Kuroma Gonpei
#8 9/1867 Yamashirō-ya Jinbei 荒木 政石衛門 Araki Masaemon The famous swordsman Araki Masaemon, of the Igagoye revenge story, attacking Takenouchi Gentan with a small knife
竹之内 鬼玄丹 Takenouchi Gentan
214KB #9 9/1867 Yamashirō-ya Jinbei 滝貝山 大八 Takamiyama Daihachi
桂川 力藏? Katsuragawa Rikizō
#10 9/1867 Sanoya Tomigorō 關口 弥太郎 Sekiguchi Yatarō Sekiguchi Yatarō, a companion of Miyamoto Musashi, facing two wolves in the Hakone mountains
737KB #11 9/1867 Yamashirō-ya Jinbei 蜀順正侯 趙雲 Shoku Junsei Kō Chōun Chōun, one of the heroes of the wars of the Three Kingdoms, riding his horse through smoke in order to rescue the infant Ato. Chōun seems to be an alternative name for Zhao Yun.
761KB #12 10/1867 Sekiguchi Gyokumeidō 幡随院 長兵衞 Banzuin Chōbei The wounded chief of the Edo otokodate Banzuin Chōbei (mid-seventeenth century) drinking water in a bathhouse, where he is to be treacherously murdered by Mizunō Jūrōzaemon.
499KB #13 11/1867 Masudaya Ginjirō 若嶋 權右工門 Wakashima Gonemon Wakashima Gonemon is searching in a whirlpool at the bottom of the Sumida river for an ancient dragon-headed bell (the bell is out of view at the left bottom corner, at the intersection of the two beams of light). The Water Dragon God was unwilling to part with it, and the rope that Gonemon took down to use to haul it up broke, and the bell is still there on the bottom.
#14 11/1867 Masudaya Ginjirō 伊東 與惣太 Itō Yosōta While on guard in the house of his lord during the night, the samurai Itō Yosōta has just stabbed himself in his right thigh to keep himself awake; over his shoulder, a giant spectral cat watches.
The simplified character 臾 is now often used.
#15 11/1867 Masudaya Ginjirō ?? 山伏 雛丸 圓海 yamabushi Hinamaru Enkai Tsukahara Bokuden duels with the yamabushi Hinamaru Enkai.
The second name is usually written with the character 伝 now.
塚原 卜傳 Tsukahara Bokuden
#16 1/1868 Ōmiya Kyūsuke 僧 傳達 sō Dentetsu The priest Dentetsu
#17 1/1868 ? Satō Samanosuke Yoshiaki running by a green post, an explosion just above his head
#18 1/1868 ? The monkey Songoku battling Rasetsunyo (a wicked female magician)
#19 2/1868 ? Mitsuma Daita kneeling by peonies
#20 2/1868 ? Asabe Bungonosuke Sadaaki riding his horse through water
#21 1867 - 1868 Ōmiya Kyūsuke Hakoōmaru (the childhood name of Soga no Gorō Tokimune) and Yawata no Shichirō by a waterfall
#22 1867 - 1868 ? Kimura Matazō holding a yari (straight-headed spear), looking at an army in tne distance
#23 Undated The pirate Gonzō with revolver on a ship
#24 9/1867 ? Araki Masaemon with the severed head of an opponent at his feet
#25 11/1867 ? Osasahara Masao no Tsubone (Lady Masao from Osasahara) between curling snakes
#26 9/1867 ? Kunisada Chūji, a famous "knight of tne town", being presented with a severed head
#27 1868 ? Uwabami Ohashi(?) killing Isokawa Gunjurō
#28 ? ? The demon Omatsu crossing a river
#29 1866 ? Nikki Danjo Naonori attempting an assassination
#30 1868/3 Masudaya Ginjirō     Musashibō Benkei reads a scroll to Togashinosuke Ienao
#30 (alternative state)
#31 ? ? Sasaki Shiro Takatsuna and Kajiwara Genda Kagesue on horseback
#32 ? ? Shima Ukon Tomoyuki and Saito Yohachiro Rikan
#33 ? ? Ishikawa Monya jumping over a cliff, a sword between his teeth
#34 ? ? Sano Genzaemon Tsuneyo and Saimyoji Tokoyori in snow
#35 ? Ōmiya Kyūsuke Suzuki Shusui wrings water from robe after escaping across river
#36 ? ? Oboshi Yuranosuke in moonlight (?)
#37 1867/4 Sanoya Tomigorō Iwami Jutaro breaking through a fence
#38 ? ? The legendary swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi aka Bennosuke, training a student
#39 1867/10 Sanoya Tomigorō Asakura Tomigoro ducking under a curtain
#40 ? ? Uesugi Kanenobu on horseback
#41 1867/10 Sekiguchi Gyokumeidō Kumakichi confronts his sister, the Geisha Otake
#42 ? ? Tabakoya Kihachi kneeling
#43 ? ? Nakaura Kokichi (?Tokichi) Takayoshi (?Azumayoshi) wading through a stream, holding a severed head.
#44 10/1867 ? Nakano Sozaburō (or possibly Nakano Chōbee - the reading of this name is still uncertain).
#45 2/1868 ? 十時 源右工門 Toki Genuemon
#46   ? 荏柄 平太 胤長 Egara [no] Heita Tanenaga Egara no Heita Tanenaga is a sobriquet for Wada Heita Tanenaga (和田 平太 胤長); it is apparently derived from the location of his mansion in the residential district of Kamakura near Egara Tenjin Shrine (荏柄 天神社).

Egara no Heita was the nephew of Wada Yoshimori (head of the Wada clan). In 1213, tension had been growing between the Hōjō Regents and the Wada clan, and open war started when Tanenaga and Yoshimori's two sons were arrested. Yoshimori managed to free his sons, but Tanenaga was detained, and exiled to Mutsu province. This image probably dates from that period (the full cartouche has not yet been read).


Thanks to Hans Olof Johansson, who had saved away images of a large partial set of the series which had been sold some years ago, and most helpfully provided them to us; and Robert Schaap and Guy Pepermans, for help with #46.

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© Copyright 2007-2013 by J. Noel Chiappa and Jason M. Levine

Last updated: 13/November/2013