The series dates from the start of Yoshitoshi's career, when he was about twenty-five. It thus dates from about 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).
According to Keyes, the text in the cartouches is by Sumida Kurozato (Kokutō) Ryōko.
Roger. S. Keyes, "Courage and Silence: A Study of the Life and Color Woodblock Prints of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi 1839-1892", Cinncinnati, 1982where it appears as series #116.
Keyes listed 9 prints in the series; we have probably found an additional 12 prints, making 21 in total. (The uncertainty is because is a slight question about one of the prints that Keyes lists; if the one we have for that one is not the one we think it is, we will have found 13 additional prints.) We use the Keyes numbers for the first 9, and have numbered the rest in the order of their dates, as Keyes did for the first nine.
The prints in the series do not appear to have any titles, or have numbers on them, or otherwise be in any explicit order. Japanese museums which have prints on display from this series do not show titles for the prints, merely list the personae which are labelled in each image. The 'Journey to the West' has 100 chapters, but Yoshitoshi does not seem to have set out to produce one print per chapter. In particular, at least of one the images is from quite late in the story. Also, although the row of characters on the left hand roll of the scroll-shaped title cartouche appears to be something like a chapter name, for each 'chapter name', several prints bear the same string of characters.
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. However, given that the Museum of Fine Arts collection contains two almost-complete sets of this series, covering the same 21 prints as we had already found, the probability that there are large numbers of prints still missing is essentially nil. There may still be a small number undiscovered, but that would be the limit.
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.
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||Names (Kanji)||Names (Rōmaji)||Description|
|569KB||#1||1864/10||雷公||Fūkō||The identity of Daitokusei is not certain; he may be the persona Taibai Jinxing. The other two seem to be some sort of demi-gods of thunder (Fūkō) and wind (Raikō).|
|477KBKB||#2||1864/12||㝠王||Meiō||This persona's name translates (roughly) to 'Dark King'; he may be
Keyes describes the print to which he gave this number as "Monkey appears
before the king of hell"; this print would appear to be the print he is
referring to, except that the date on this one is clearly 1864/12, and he
records the date of #2 as being 1864/11. Perhaps he simply made an error?
|559KB||#3||1864/11||霊感王||Reikanō||Reikanō is the King of Spiritual-Touch, a marine demon who is actually a gold-fish belonging to Guan-Yin, the Enlightened Immortal of compassion.|
|406KB||#4||1864/12||The waterfall shown here is probably the one on Flower Fruit Mountain behind which is the Water Curtain Cave, found by Son Gokū, where he and the tribe of monkeys he was originally the leader of live.|
|522KB||#5||1865/2||金角 大王||Kinkaku Daiō||This print illustrates an episode from the start of Chapter 33, where Son
Gokū fights with a demon in order to free Cho Hakkai, whom the demon has
Kinkaku Daiō is the King of Gold Horn, an unruly servant of Laotzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher who is revered as a deity, "One of the Three Pure Ones", in Taoism.
|452KB||#7||1865/2||獅駝洞 之 老魔||Shidadō no rōma||The identity of the mythical being is uncertain; its name translates to something like 'Ancient Demon of the Hunchbacked Lion Cave'.|
|497KB||#10||1864/10||朝倉彫常||This print illustrates an episode from Chapter 2; Son Gokū battles a
demon who has captured the cave where Son Gokū and his tribe of monkeys live.
It is not known who or what the first cartouche refers to. The second is the Demon King of Confusion.
|530KB||#11||1864/10||独角 大王||Dokugaku daiō||The first name translates to a character who is unidentified;
his name translates to "King Single Horn", so he may be the character named
'One-horned Demon King', who appears in Chapter 5.
The second is Prince Nata (Prince Ne Zha in Chinese).
|哪吒 太子||Nata taishi|
|399KB||#12||1864/12||二郎 真君||Erlang shinkun||This print illustrates an episode from Chapter 63; an old
adversary of Son Gokū helps the travellers in a fight with a powerful
Although the reading of the characters in these names not certain for all of them, the actual personae shown are definitely identified. The first, called True Lord in English, is the persona named Erlang Shang in Chinese. The other is the Nine-Headed Demon, who is the son-in-law of the Dragon King of Azure Lake.
|446KB||#13||1864/12||黄風王||Kōfūō||This print illustrates an episode from Chapter 21, where Son Gokū fights
with a wind demon in order to free Genjō-sanzō, whom the wind
demon has captured.
This is the Demon of Yellow Wind (although his name in Chinese is written with slightly different characters than the ones used here, as do many of the figures in this series).
|477KB||#14||1864/12||羅利女||Rakijo?||The warrior in this print is unidentified, and the reading of his name is uncertain.|
|455KB||#15||1864/12||獨牛鬼王||Doku Gyūkiō||The demon in this print is the Ox Demon King, who at one point had been
Son Gokū's sworn brother. The leading Doku seems to mean something
like "the only".
His name is normally always (including in Japanese) written with a different second character for 'demon', 魔, and the name with that character is read Gyūmaō.
|501KB||#16||1864/12||精細鬼||Seisaiki||The identity of these two demons is not known, but the
for their names are correct.
The name of the second demon is normally always (including in Japanese) written with the characters 伶俐虫 (with the same reading).
|550KB||#18||1865/2||愛々||Ai-ai||This print illustrates an episode from Chapter 23; the travellers are
tested by goddesses masquerading as a mother and her three daughters.
The reading of the names is not entirely certain; in Chinese they are Ai-Ai, Lian-Lian and Zhen-Zhen.
The first syllable of Genjō's name seems to have been written with the non-standard character 伭, and Cho Hakkai's with the character 猪.
|452KB||#20||1865/8||金 聖 皇后||Kin hijiri kōgō||Another mythical persona whose identity is uncertain; her name translates to something like 'Empress Gold Nun'.|
|551KB||#21||No date seal?||聖嬰文王||Seiei Bunō||The mythical being shown here is the
Boy Sage King,
who is also known by the nickname Red Boy; the two cartouches give his name
The second cartouche starts with the characters 又 号 (mata gō), which mean, roughly, 'other sobriquet'.
There is almost certainly an error in the third character of the first cartouche, as his name is usually written with the character 大, not 文 as here. This variant is seen nowhere else, except this print; the reading with the usual character is Seiei Taiō.
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© Copyright 2010 by J. Noel Chiappa and Jason M. Levine
Last updated: 29/May/2010