Yoshitoshi's 'Illustrated History of Great Japan (Dai nihon shiryaku zue)' (1879-1880)


This page attempts to catalog all known prints in Yoshitoshi's series 'Dai nihon shiryaku zue (大 日本 史略 圖會 - Illustrated History of Great Japan)'. (The title is now usually written with the simplified characters 図会.)

The series consists of illustrations of famous incidents in the lives of selected Japanese Emperors and mythical or semi-mythical figures. (The name and ordinal of the Emperor are given at the bottom of the large vertical cartouche on the left.)

It dates from toward the end of Yoshitoshi's career, when he was about forty. It thus dates from a little less than a decade 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).

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 #418; he listed 10 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 #37 (pg. 124). It also appears in:
	Shinichi Segi, "Yoshitoshi: The Splendid Decadent",
		Tokyo, Japan, 1985
where it appears as black and white illustrations 118-119, page 104.

We use the Keyes numbers to order the prints below.

This page (and list) is not necessarily complete; the series is not well documented, and there may be yet other prints which have not yet come to our attention. 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) please let us know.

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).

Thumbnail Large image Number Date Title (Kanji) Title (English) Description
#1 1879/4 天照皇
Amaterasu Omikami This image shows Ame no Uzume no mikoto, a Shinto divinity (the goddess of dawn and revelry) attempting to lure Amaterasu Omikami, the Shinto sun-goddess, from her cave, by dancing and playing a flute.
293KB #2 1879/4 Emperor Yūryaku Emperor Yūryaku was the twenty-first Emperor of Japan; he was known to be a hunter, and is shown here at Mount Katsuragi killing a very large boar during a hunt.
Image needed #3 1879 Emperor Itoku Emperor Itoku was the legendary fourth Emperor of Japan; he is said to have ruled for thirty-four years.
#4 1879/4 第十五代
Empress Jingū Empress Jingū was Empress-Consort of the fourteenth Emperor, and for some years the regent for her son; she is shown here with Takenouchi no Sukune (the old man seated on the far left, with a quiver of arrows over his shoulder) while on her way to Korea.
511KB #5 1879 第九十一代
亀山 天皇
Emperor Kameyama The scene shown here is the rescue of Nichiren, was a monk who was the founder of the Hokke sect of Buddhism. This is an illustration of a famous incident in his life, an attempted execution during the reign of Emperor Kameyama, the ninetieth Emperor of Japan.
#6 1880/4 第八十代
安徳 天皇
Emperor Antoku The famous naval battle of Dan-no-ura in the Shimonoseki Strait between Honshū and Kyūshū, between the Taira and Minamoto factions, during which the boy Emperor Antoku was drowned. The leaping figure on the left is Minamoto no Yoshitsune, jumping from a sinking boat.
#7 1880/4 Emperor Takakura Taira no Shigemori attempting to dissuade his father Kiyomori, the patriarch of the Taira clan, from imprisoning the Emperor Takakura (the father of Emperor Antoku).
#8 1880/5 Emperor Keikō The legendary hero Yamato Takeru (Yamato Takeru no mikoto) was the third son of the legendary Emperor Keikō; he is shown here amidst grasses which been set on fire by a rebel.
705KB #9 1880 第七十六代
崇徳 天皇
Emperor Sutoku Emperor Sutoku was the seventy-fifth Emperor of Japan; he is shown here refusing to receive the monk Rennyo while the Emperor was in exile at Sanuki on the island of Shikoku.
(The 'Rennyo' mentioned here is not the famous Rennyo, who lived three centuries after this.)
462KB #10 1880 第九十四代
後醍醐 天皇
Emperor Go-Daigo Emperor Go-Daigo was the ninety-sixth Emperor of Japan; be is shown here escaping a burning castle (perhaps the castle at Kasagiyama).


Thanks to (in alphabetical order) Cathrine Lowther of Sinister Designs, whose Yoshitoshi site was the source for many of these images, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the source of the image of #2.

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© Copyright 2010, 2014 by J. Noel Chiappa and Jason M. Levine

Last updated: 27/June/2014