Yoshitoshi's Signatures and Seals

Yoshitoshi, like many Japanese artists, used a number of different go (art-name, similar to a pen-name in the West) during his career. However, unlike many others, his principal go, Yoshitoshi (芳年), remained the same throughout his artistic career. What did change were the other names he used with it.

This page attempts to list all the various names and signatures used by Yoshitoshi during his career, and show good images of them and the seals he used. It is currently in a very draft state, and we will be exending it considerably as we get more prints online.

Yoshitoshi's Names

He was originally named Owariya Yonejiro (米次郎), but after his grandfather bought his way into samurai status, the entire family changed their name from Owariya (which, strictly speaking, was the name of the shop - the Owari-ya - which the family owned; the lower classes in feudal Japan had no family names). to Yoshioka (吉岡).

After he was apprenticed to Kuniyoshi, the latter gave him the go Yoshitoshi; as was common, one syllable of the master's name was used in that of the pupil.

In 1865 he started to use the alternative family name Tsukioka (月岡), although he retained Yoshioka as his legal family name (and in fact was buried under the name Yoshioka Taiso Yoshitoshi). Apparently, this name was the family name used by a noted Osaka painter, Tsukioka Settei (1710 - 1786), who was a distant relative, and Yoshitoshi seems to have believed that he was his artistic heir.

Before 1873, he had signed most of his prints as "Ikkaisai Yoshitoshi" (一魁斎 芳年), perhaps in honour of the name his master Kuniyoshi had used, "Ichiyūsai". Perhaps to commemorate his resurgence, from then on he changed the first part of the name to "Taiso" (大蘇, meaning 'great resurrection').

Seal Readings

When seal readings are given, following the usual standard, the Chinese reading(s) are in uppercase, and the Japanese in lower. Characters are separated by '_', and alternative readings are given separated by '/'.

The character numbers, which identify the characters in the seal, are given from:

    Andrew N. Nelson, "The Modern Reader's Japanese-English Character Dictionary",
	Charles E. Tuttle, Rutland, 1974
which is a standard Japanese dictionary.

Table of Signatures

Signature Name (Romaji) Name (Kanji) Year Characters Comments
Yoshitoshi hitsu 芳年 筆 1865 hitsu means 'painted by'
Kaisai Yoshitoshi hitsu 魁斎 芳年 筆 1865-66
Ikkaisai Yoshitoshi hitsu 一魁斎 芳年 筆 1867-68

Table of Seals

Seal Name (Romaji) Name (Kanji) Year Reference Characters Comments
Kiri The seal reads:


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© Copyright 2009 by J. Noel Chiappa and Jason M. Levine