Image
Number 47: Battle in Chosen

Kokoku isshin kenbun shi

Imperial renewal observations journal

From the opening of Japan by America
to the opening of Chosen by Japan

By William Wetherall

First posted 20 January 2010
Last updated 1 February 2010


KIKS series

The print to shown here is Number 47 of a series called cš ˆêVŒ©•·Ž (Kōkoku isshin kenbun shi) [KIKS] -- literally "record [chronicle]" (Ž) of "seeings and hearings [information, news]" (Œ©•·) about the "singular [sweeping, total] novation [renovation, renewal, regeneration]" (ˆêV) of the "tenno's [emperor's] country [imperial state]".

The series featured stories about events that took place between 1853 and 1876, when the series began to be published. It begins with the confrontations in 1853 and 1854 that forced Japan to open some ports to the United States, and it ends two decades and a domestic revolution later with the incident depicted on this print -- which forced Korea to open some ports to Japan. America's opening of Japan, and Japan's opening of Korea, had huge consequences for all three countries, as well as for the region and the world.

Top  


Known prints

Only about twelve prints from the series are known, and most are not numbered. To put it another way -- I have not read mention of, nor seen, any prints, in Japan or in Japanese sources, other than those listed by Roger Keyes in his 1982 doctoral dissertation on Yoshitoshi, which was written in English. Unfortunately, the manner in which Keyes described the series has invited others writing in English to misrepresent the series.


Keyes and followers

Keyes 1982 (pages 417-418), and Ing and Schaap 1992 (page 120) based on Keyes, list twelve prints. I cannot confirm the existence of prints other than those on these lists. The descriptions of the prints in these two sources are not, however, very reliable.

Purpose of series

In his dissertation, Keyes described the series like this (1982, page 148, underscoring in original typescript).

In 1876, the Ginza publisher Yamanaka Kitarō commissioned Yoshitoshi to design a series of pictures of military events that had led to the restoration of the Meiji Emperor, beginning with the arrival of Perry's Black Ships; the series also contained pictures of more recent military incidents. Each print in the first group, published on the third of June, cost two sen. Yoshitoshi was assisted on each print by one of his pupils, Toshimitsu helping on some prints, Toshinao and Toshiyuki (still a boy of thirteen) on others.

A better characterization of the events in the prints would be "international and domestic confrontations". And nothing in the title of the series suggests that it was about "the restoration of the Meiji Emperor".

Practically all writers in English have followed Keyes 1982. Van den Ing and Schaap 1992, the most important and widely available Yoshitoshi exhibition catalog, like Keyes, states that the purpose of the series was "to describe the main events leading to the restoration of the Meiji Emperor" (page 54), and characterizes the pictures as being "of military events that led to the restoration of the Meiji Emperor" (page 120).

Van den Ing and Schaap 1992 thus drops the qualification Keyes made with regard to prints of "more recent military events" -- though it shows a black-and-white image of Number 45, about the Saga incident of 1874, and it is clear from their descriptions that a number of other stories among the dozen known prints also involve incidents after the restorationist government came into power during 1868.

The purpose of the series was not about the "restoration" of Emperior Meiji, but rather was about the "renewal" of the "emperor's state" as a political entity -- specifically, the progress that Japan had made over the past two decades, leading up to and following the rebirth of the imperial state in 1868.

lock print or lithograph.

Notification dates

Keyes 1982 speaks of "the first group" of prints -- meaning the first eleven on his list of twelve -- as bearing the 3 June 1876 date. The last print on his list, Number 1, is dated 9 June 1876 -- he claims.

However, all copies of this print I have seen (see below) show 3 June 1876. Even the color image shown in van den Ing and Schaap clearly shows 3 June, though the caption, following Keyes, says 9 June (page 54).

Name and address disclosures

The commentary in van den Ing and Schaap 1992 states that "As required by censorship regulations initialled on 3 September 1875, Yoshitoshi and other artists were obliged to provide their full names and addresses in the margin" (page 54), and "The artist's full name and address is given in the margin, as seems to have been required from this time on" (page 120).

The 1875 regulations, however, were about neither censorship nor artists. Rather they were about accountability. Both the person responsible for a publication's content (writer, editor, drawer), and the person responsible for its printing and production (publisher), were required to disclose their legal name and address on the publication -- on the colophon of a book or magazine, or on the margin of a woodblock print.

Numbering

Only a few of the prints are numbered, and the numbering appears to be in chronological order of the events. All prints I have seen bear the same 3 June 1876 notification date -- meaning that, on this day, the publisher reported to the authorities, as required by a publications law in effect since the year before, his intent to produce the series.


The prints in the Kōkoku isshin kenbun shi (KIKS) series are not among those for which their principal drawer, Yoshitoshi, is best known in Japan or overseas.

Like most nishikie, whether single prints or series, KIKS was undoubtedly contrived by the publisher to feed a market for pictures and stories about the more dramatic events of recent Japanese history. Yoshitoshi was one of the two best-known drawers at the time, and he was kept busy drawing pictures for woodblock prints, story books, and newspapers.

Yoshitoshi also had a stable of apprentice drawers who helped him with the detail work. All of the KIKS prints I have seen are acknowledged to have been drawn by Yoshitoshi with the assistance of one of his disciples. While all may have features attributable to Yoshitoshi's style, all were vehicles for his students to develop and practice their skills.

Forthcoming.

Though However, they are sometimes featured in Yoshitoshi and other exhibitions.

this is, and "military events" should perhaps be "international and domestic controntation".

Numbering
, but they included No. 1 (1853) and this print, No. 47 (1875) -- the events on which bracket the period of time covered by series.

Not many of the known prints are numbered. But their numbers correlate with the chronological order of their events, and they appear to allow for the events of the unnumbered prints.

All prints I have seen share the same notification date of 3 June 1876. I suspect that a series of 48 prints was planned, and that the prints for the best known of the earliest and more recent events were published first -- with numbers, like No. 1, No. 10, No. 45, and No. 47 -- not necessarily in order. Then the numbering was abandoned, and eventually the series itself was discontinued as publishers and their artisans -- drawers, carvers, printers -- turned their attention to the Seinan War, which began early in 1877.

Known prints

The known prints, as best as I can surmise their order, based on the date of their event and/or series number, are as follows. The Japanese titles and their romanizations, and all other comments, are mine -- except that the order listed in Keyes 1982 is parenthetically shown as (K#), while the received descriptions in Keyes 1982 and van den Ing and Schaap 1992 are italicized as K: and I&S:.

Top  


Dates to keep in mind

Today -- partly out of a desire to keep historical accounts of earlier events simple, partly out of ignorance of the complexities of actual events -- there is a tendency to impose describe the past in ways that contradict contemporary chronologies and accounts.

Here are a few dates and events to keep in mind when considering the particulars of stories as told in late Edo and early Meiji printed matter.

Keio 3-10-14 (9 November 1867)

Tokugawa Yoshinobu presents a memorial (opinion) to the emperor -- Mutsuhito, barely into his 16th year, still very much under the control of senior court officials -- regarding his willingness, as head of the Tokugawa clan, to return the right to rule to the emperor. This was not a resignation of the Tokugawa government, but an expression of readiness to accept the emperor as the head of state and to govern in accordance with the emperor's will. The following day the emperor sanctions (accepts and approves) the memorial.

The exchange between the Tokugawa government and the imperial court took place in Osaka and Kyoto. Yoshinobu was then at Osaka castle, and the imperial palace was in Kyoto. The seat of the Tokugawa government, however, was in Edo. And there was as yet no agreement as to how the reigns of authority would be transferred from Edo to Kyoto.

The imperial court did not yet have the capacity to represent Japan in its foreign affairs. On Keio 3-10-23 (18 November 1867) it even issued a notification to the effect that the Tokugawa government continued to have authority in matters involving other countries.

The Tokugawa government, not the imperial court, issued the notification of Keio 3-11-19 (14 December 1867) concerning the opening of Edo to foreign intercourse and the extension of the period that Niigata would be an open port. And it was the Tokugawa government that signed a tariff agreement with Russia on Keio 3-11-28 (23 December 1867).

Keio 3-12-9 (3 January 1868)

The emperor formally declares his sovereignty -- although the restorationist government has yet to be actually formed except in the minds of those who instrumented the imperial declaration. Much less had the would-be government assumed control of shogunal offices in Edo and elsewhere in Japan.

Regarding aims and means, there were factions and disputes among leaders on all sides: the court, the restorationists, and the Tokugawa shogunate. As all concerned parties jostled for control of the reigns of the new form of government, the Tokugawa side began to object to some of the concessions being demanded by some of the restorationists and restorationist factions within the court -- and moved to protect its interests.

Keio; 1-1-3 (27 January 1868)

Shogunal forces began moving from Osaka castle to Kyoto by way of two routes, through Toba and Fushimi, to deliver a message from Yoshinobu to his allies in the court -- and possibly also to rescue the emperor from what the Tokugawa side viewed as a state of captivity. Restorationist forces, encamped at strategic points nearer Kyoto, refused to let the Tokugawa forces pass. And some of the restorationists fired on the Tokugawa forces, which apparently had not expected a fight.

Thus began four days of fighting at Toba and Fushimi, and other areas in the region, which ended with an attack on Osaka castle. Yoshinobu and some of his forces fled by sea for Edo, with restorationist forces in pursuit overland.

These were the first battles of what is commonly called the Bōshin war. "Bōshin" (•è’C) is the sexegenary designation of Keio 4, the first day of which was 25 January 1868.

The Bōshin war was actually a series of battles that took place at various localities in Japan over the next year or so between ground and sea forces of the new government, and remnants of former Tokugawa forces, Tokugawa loyalists, and others who opposed the directions in which the new government appeared to be taking the country.

Yoshinobu, back in Edo, resigned his authority to the imperial court, and restorationist forces arriving in the city were able to take possession of Edo castle without incident. Yoshinobu was allowed to retire to Mito.

Most remnants of Tokugawa forces and supporters disbanded or surrendered. Some, however, continued to resist the new government, typically from localities remote from Edo -- though one group of resisters encamped at Tokugawa temples on Ueno hill.

Keio 4-7-17 (3 September 1868)

An imperial edict is issued changing the name of Edo to Tōkyō (“Œ‹ž). The graphs for "eastern capital" were also read "Tōkei"

Keio 4-9-8 = Meiji 1-9-8 (23 October 1868)

The reign name "Keio" changes to "Meiji". "Meiji Gannen" (–¾Ž¡Œ³”N) or begins to be used retroactively, hence Keio 4-1-1 = Meiji 1-1-1 (25 January 1868).

Meiji 1-10-13 (26 November 1868)

When the emperor first visits Tokyo late in 1868, the name of Edo castle is renamed Tokyo castle (“Œ‹žé Tōkeijō). When he permanently moves to the castle the following year, its name is changed to Imperial castle (cé Kōjō). From 1888, after fires and rebuilding, the grounds of the imperial residence were called Palace castle (‹{é Kyōjō). In 1948 they were renamed Imperial residence (c‹ Kōkyo).

Top  


Known prints

Forthcoming.

[Kokoku] isshin kenbun shi (KIKS)
Journal of observations of renewal [of imperial state]

Forthcoming.

Tokugawa events (1853 to 22 October 1868)

1. 1853-1854 No. 1 (Keyes 12)
‰Y‰êˆŸ‘D—ˆq Uraga Asen raikō
Uraga American ship port arrival

Conflict with America resulting in treaty which opened some Japanese ports.

Copies: (1) van den Ing and Schaap 1992 (page 54, color, 29.12, The British Museum, London), (2) Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF website, museum purchase), (3)=(1) University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Fisher Fine Arts Library Image Collection (UPL website, Repository: London: British Museum)

Series title cartouche: Purple and yellow (I&S and UPL)
Series title cartouche: Blue and yellow (FAMSF)
Date: Red
Number: Red
Writer: Ōboku Harutsugu (?)
Drawer: Taisō Yoshitoshi (black on white)
Assistant: Toshimitsu (black on yellow)
Disclosures: Black

The writer's name is written ‘å•Û‹v (Ōboku), which is clearly an error for ‘å‹v•Û (Ōkubo). The coloring of some of the elements (series title cartouche, horizon, etc.) are somewhat different in the I&S and FAMSF images. Some differences cannot be explained by fading or other degradations of pigments.

Keyes: The American ship enters Uraga Harbor.
vdI&S: The American ships enter Uraga bay.

2. 1860 No. 3 (Keyes 1)
÷“cã–¤‚̐á Sakurada jōshi [jōmi] no yuki
Snow on 3rd day of 3rd month at Sakurada

Assassination of Ii Naosuke outside Sakurada gate of Edo castle.

Copies: Akita 1999 (page 39, image 147, color)

Series title cartouche: Purple and green
Date: Red
Number: Red
Writer: Matsumura Kensuke

Drawer: Taisō Yoshitoshi (black on white)
Assistant: Toshimitsu (black on yellow)
Disclosures: (Black?) (Akita shown without left margin)

Keyes: Snow at the Sakurada Gate of the Imperial Palace.
vdI&S: Snow at the gate, Sakuradamon, of the Imperial palace.

The imperial palace was in Kyoto. The Sakurada gate was one of many entrances to Edo castle, the seat of the Tokugawa government in Edo. The castle did not become the residence of the emperor until 1869.

3. 1863 No number (Keyes 9)
•ÄätŽ­Ž™“ˆí‘ˆ Beisen Kagoshima sensō
Battle with American [sic = British] ships at Kagoshima

From the Bunkyū 3-7 (August-September 1863) date and other story particulars, the •Äät (Beisen) in the title and the •Äš  (Beikoku) in the story are clearly errors for ‰pät (Eisen) and ‰pš  (Eikoku) -- as it British, not American, ships that, while anchored in Kagoshima harbor, were fired on by Kagoshima batteries, provoking the British squadron to bombard a number of Kagoshima gun positions and other shore facilities and vessels.

Copies: (1) National Diet Library (Rare book database, 006), (2) Akita 1999 (page 39, image 146, color)

Series title cartouche: Purple and green
Date: Red
Price: Black (NDL copy only)
Unpriced: Akita copy
Writer: Matsumura Kensuke (Ž? shi?)
Drawer: Taiso Yoshitoshi (black on white)
Assistant: Toshimitsu (black on white)
Disclosures: Black (NDL; Akita shown without right margin)

Keyes: The Attack of the American Ship at Kagoshima. With assistance of Toshimitsu.
vdI&S: The attack of the American(?) ship at Kagoshima. In 1863 the English admiral Kuper, revenged the murder of Richarson (1863 at Namamugi year Yokohama) by bombarding the city. With Toshimitsu.

4. 1868 No number (Keyes 2)
•šŒ©‚̐푈 Fushimi no senō
War [Battle] at Fushimi

Tokugawa forces routed by restorationists. Declaration of Imperial restoration.

Copies: Atsugi city (Kanagawa prefecture) collection (city website, black-and-white)

Keyes: The Battle of Fushimi.
vdI&S: The battle of Fushimi, where on 27 and 28 February 1868 the Imperialists routed the shogun's army.

The battles of Toba and Fushimi took place on the 3rd and 4th days of the 1st month of Keio 4, corresponding to 27 and 28 January 1868.

5. 1868 No number (Keyes 6)
bBŸÀ‚̐푈 Kōshū Katsunuma no sensō
Battle at Katsunuma in Kō province

By Keio 4-2-12 (5 March 1868), Tokugawa Yoshinobu had left Edo castle and confined himself to Kan'eiji at Ueno, having informed the imperial court that he did not intend to oppose the restoration.

At Katsunuma, in Kō province, also known as Kai (b”ã), in present-day Yamanashi prefecture, restorationist forces attacked remnants of Tokugawa forces, some of which had reached the province overland after the Toba-Fushimi battles, and other which had joined them from Edo. The Tokugawa supporters, who had taken the provincial castle, were defeated on Keio 4-3-6 (29 March 1868).

Copies: (1) National Diet Library (Rare book database, 002), (2) Arts and Designs of Japan (San Francisco, sold for $650, November Selection #11, date of catalog and sale uncertain)

Series title cartouche: Purple and yellow
Date: Red
Price: Black
Writer: Matsumura Kensuke (q jutsu)
Drawer: Taisō Yoshitoshi (black on white)
Assistant: Toshimitsu (black on white)
Disclosures: Black

Keyes: The Battle of Katsunuma in Kai Province.
vdI&S: The battle of Katsunuma in Kai province.

6. 1868-5-15 No number (Keyes 8)
‰F“s‹{‚̐푈 Utsunoyma no sensō
Battle at Utsunomiya

Some Tokugawa followers and others opposed to the new government had left Edo and other nearby localities and gathered at Kōnodai just north of the Edo river. The group, a number of whose members reigned from Aizu in Wakamatsu, proceeded to Utsunomiya on their way to Nikkō and then Aizu.

On Keio 4-4-19 (11 May 1868) the group attacked Utsunomiya castle, which fell in one day. Four days later, under seige by government forces, the group abandoned the castle and continued its retreat to Nikkō and Aizu.

Copies: National Diet Library (Rare book database, 001)

Series title cartouche: Purple and green
Date: Red
Price: Black
Writer: Matsumura Kensuke (q jutsu)
Drawer: Taisō Yoshitoshi (black on white)
Assistant: Toshimitsu (black on yellow)
Disclosures: Black

Keyes: The Battle of Utsunomiya.
vdI&S: The Battle of Utsunomiya.

7. 1868-5-19 Number 20 (Keyes 3)
“úŒõŽR’E‘–‚̓ԏW Nikkōsan dassō no tonshū
Encampment of fleers at Nikkōsan

The picture shows a group of twelve armed men in various costumes. Five are carrying heads, as though they intend to present them to the gods that represent Tokugawa spirits at Nikkō.

Four men are carrying banners. The three unfolded banners read “ŒÆ‘匠Œ» (Tōshō Daigongen) or "Great expedient manifestation [as kami] shining over east" -- the Shintō posthumous name of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first Tokugawa shogun.

Remnants of Tokugawa supporters retreating from Utsunomiya encamped at Nikkōsan, where again they were confronted by government forces. Neither side, however, wanted to engage in a fight at Nikkō's temples and shrines Nikkō.

The date in the story is written "Meiji Gannen-4-27" or 19 May 1868. In real time, however, the date was Keio 4-4-27 -- since the Meiji reign year did not officially begin until Keio 4-9-8 or 23 October 1868. The writer has written "Meiji Gannen" (Meiji 1) instead of "Keio 4" from the perspective of Meiji 9, by which time Meiji Gannen was widely being used to refer to Keio 4 dates -- i.e., Keio 4-1-1 was retroactively regarded as Meiji 1-1-1 (25 January 1868).

Copies: National Diet Library (Rare book database, 005)

Series title cartouche: Purple and green
Date: Red
Number: Red
Price: Red
Writer: Matsumura Kensuke (Ž? shi?)
Drawer: Taisō Yoshitoshi (black on white)
Assistant: Toshimitsu (black on yellow)
Disclosures: Black

Keyes: Troops taking refuge at the shrine in Nikko.
vdI&S: Troops taking refuge at the Tokugawa shrine in Nikkō.

The fleers were not so much troops as a group of former shogunate retainers and others, some retreating, others just returning home.

Nikkōsan is a temple, not a shrine. It was established several centuries before the Tokugawa came into power. Tōshōgū (“ŒÆ‹{), the shrine built at Nikkō to accommodate Tokugawa Ieyasu's mausoleum, is next to Nikkōsan -- a Tendai temple. The Tokugawa clan patronized the temple, which had become the shogunate's religious base. The principal temples on Ueno hill, to the north of Edo castle, were also affiliated with Tendai.

8. 1868-7-4 (Keyes 7)
[ Battle of Ueno ]

I have not seen this print.

The battle at Ueno took place on Keio 4-5-15 (4 July 1868) at Ueno hill, the Buddhist sanctuary and retreat of the Tokugawa clan. The higher ground, which included many temples built to protect Edo and the Tokugawa clan from demons to the north, had been occupied by members of the Shōgitai and others, some Tokugawa loyalists, some having different grievances with the new government. The Ueno holdouts, surrounded by government forces, fought to their death, were captured, or fled, some to fight in another battle elsewhere.

See Battle of Ueno elsewhere on this website for examples of other nishikie related to the Ueno confrontation.

Keyes: The Battle of the Three Bridges at Ueno.
vdI&S: The battle of the Three Bridges at Ueno. The shogun's army was defeated by the followers of the Emperor on 4 July 1868, resulting in the surrender of Edo to the Imperial forces.

The description in van den Ing and Schaap 1992 does not make sense in the light of history. Restorationist forces, poised to strike Edo castle three months after the Toba-Fushimi battles, partly through the urging of British officials, negotiated a peaceful takeover, and by Keio 4-4-21 (13 May 1868) the castle was in the new government's hands.

Tokugawa Yoshinobu was allowed to retire to Mito. Most Tokugawa forces had disbanded or surrendered by the time of the Ueno battle. Some, though, had fled to other provinces, where they were pursued and inspired to surrender, or killed or captured. Some holdouts fled from one battle to the next, as the military arm of the new government, which had orginated in the southwest, reached further north and east.

I suspect the story on the print is about the part of Ueno battle that involved the Monju towers of the Tōeizan Kan'eiji complex of Tendai temples.

Meiji events (23 October 1868 to 1876)

9. No number (Keyes 5)
Žá¼í‘ˆ Wakamatsu sensō
Wakamatsu battle

The Watakamtsu battle centered on the siege of Wakamatsu castle by government forces from circa Keio 4-8-22 to 9-24 (7 October to circa 8 November 1868), among other confrontations in Aizu-Wakamatsu during this time. As such it straddled the end of Keio and the beginning of Meiji.

On Keio 4-8-23 (8 October 1868), the day or so after the seige began, 20 members of the Byakkotai (”’ŒÕ‘à) or "White Tiger Regiment" committed seppuku, thinking smoke they had seen was from the castle. One of the 20 was saved. Other members, in their late teens, continued to defend the castle until its fall. Nearly 300 members, over eighty percent of the unit, survived, and a few went on to hold high posts in the Meiji government.

The print shows a number of young warriors standing by a rock wall as smoke rises from the top of a castle on the other side. One of the men is holding a white and blue flag. Two are flying kites that soar into the sky beyond the wall, as though to dance with the billowing smoke and encourage the defenders of the castle. The story of flying kites during the bombardment of Wakamatsu castle, more commonly called Tsurugajū (’߃–é), is famous.

Copies: National Diet Library (Rare book database, 003)

Series title cartouche: Purple and green
Date: Red
Price: Black
Writer: Matsumura Kensuke (q jutsu)
Drawer: Yoshitoshi dzu (š¤ > }) (black on red)
Assistant: Toshiyuki (”Ná) (black on yellow)
Disclosures: Black

The signature cartouches on the print are exceptional. Yoshitoshi's standard signature is missing. Both the drawer's and assistant's names are written in graphs that are clearly more angular than those on the Taisō Yoshitoshi and Toshimitsu prints.

Keyes: The Battle of Wakamatsu. With the assistance of Toshiyuki.
vdI&S: The battle of Wakamatsu. The capture of Wakamatsu castle (6 Nov. 1868) ended the civil war in Hondo. With Toshiyuki.

"Hondo" refers to "Honshū" -- but the

10. 1869 (Keyes 10)

I have not seen this print.

Some remnants of Tokugawa forces, and others opposed to the new government established in Edo in early 1868, fled to Ezo, soon to be called Hokkaidō. By the end of the year, they held a fortress and some other positions in and around Hakodate. By the summer of the following year, however, they had been defeated. Some of the former rebels were recruited into the new government's ground and naval forces.

Keyes: The Battle of Hakodate.
vdI&S: The battle of Hakodate. In 1869 the shōgun's fleet surrendered to the imperial forces.

11. 1874 Number 45 (Keyes 4)
²‰ê‚ÌŽ–Œ Saga no jiken
Incident in Saga

The Saga incident was a local uprising in Kyōshō in late February and early March 1874. It was led, somewhat reluctantly, by Etō Shinpei, recently the Ministry of Justice. See Saga rebellion elsewhere on this website for examples of other nishikie related to this incident.

Copies: (1) Higuchi 1955, 1962 (figure 221, black-and-white), (2) Konishi 1977 (Volume 7, page 10, color), (3) Keyes 1982 (pages 147-149, plate 24), (4)=(3) van den Ing and Schaap 1992 (page 120, black-and-white, Philadelphia Museum of Art, USA), (5) Akita 1999 (page 39, image 145, color)

Series title cartouche: Purple and green (Konishi)
Series title cartouche: Purple and yellow (Akita)
Date: Red (Akita; Konishi shown without right margin)
Number: Red (Akita; Konishi shown without right margin)
Writer: Matsumura Kensuke
Drawer: Taisō Yoshitoshi (black on red)
Assistant: Toshi(?) (black on white)
Disclosures: (black?) (Akita and Konishi shown without left margin)

The drawer cartouche is exceptional in that "Taisō Yoshitoshi" is brushed in black on red. The assistant's name could be Toshinao as reported by Keyes.

Keyes: The Incident at Saga. With assistance of Toshinao.
vdI&S: The incident at Saga. In 1874 Saga was the scene of a small scale civil war brought about by Etō Shinpei and promptly checked by Okubo Toshimichi. No. 45. With Toshinao.

The uprising at Saga was not "brought about by Etō" -- who had recently resigned his government post in Tokyo and returned to his home in Saga to find himself in a pot that had already started to boil with rebellion. All evidence is that he somewhat reluctantly accepted the call to lead the rebels.

12. 1875-1876 Number 47 (Keyes 11)
’©‘N‚̐푈 Chōsen no sensō
Battle in Chosen

The story on this print describes the controntation between Japan and Chosen in Kanghwa bay in September 1875, which resulted in a treaty between the two countries in February the following year. See Battle in Chosen: Kanghwa incident elsewhere on this website for a translation of the story and commentary.

Copies: (1) National Diet Library (Rare book database, 004), (2) Kang 2007 (page 32, figure 36, color), (3) Yosha Bunko (shown here)

Series title cartouche: Purple and yellow
Date: Red
Number: Red
Price: Red (NDL copy) Unpriced: Kang and Yosha Bunko
Writer: Ōkubo Harutsugu (q jutsu)
Drawer: Taisō Yoshitoshi (black on white)
Assistant: Toshimitsu (black on yellow)
Disclosures: Black

Keyes: The Korean Treaty.
vdI&S: The Korean treaty.

The story is not about the treaty but the confrontation that Japan leveraged into the treaty -- alluded to in passing at the end.

Number 1

Number 1 in the series -- port arrival" -- portrays numerous small tiller-powered boats, each flying a Japanese flag, and carrying three or four people, heading Commodore Perry's huge black flagship, which anchored in the bay in July 1853 and forced upon Japan a letter from President Fillmore, by then then no longer in office, essentially demanding that Japan treat shipwrecked Americans kindly and protect their property, and appoint a port at which American vessels could "stop in Japan and supply themselves with coal, provisions, and water."

On 31 March 1854, upon his return to Uraga, Perry signed what is called the Treaty of Kanagawa, in which the Tokugawa government -- not Japan's "imperial majesty" or "the August Sovereign of Japan" -- consented to protect shipwrecked Americans and open ports in Shimoda and Hakodate at which American ships could obtain supplies.

These events -- which led to similar treaties with several other Euroamerican states, and to a series of more comprehensive treaties that gave subjects of these states extraterritorial rights of residence in several ports -- inspired movements in Japan to overthrow the Tokugawa government and restore the imperial court to nominal power for the sake of nationalizing the country and protecting it from foreign control.

A full page color image of Number 1 is shown in van den Ing and Schaap 1992 (page 54). The caption erroneously states that the story was written by Matsumura Kensuke, whereas the print attributes the story to "Oboku [sic Okubo] Harutsugu".

Number 47

Number 47 is the print described in this article.

Top  


Principal sources

The most important overview of Japanese woodblock prints related to Korea is Kang 2007, which I have reviewed in the Bibliography feature of this website.

See also The empire of woodblock prints and Korea becomes Chosen, both under the "The Empires of Japan" feature of the Yosha Research website.

The most influential English sources concerning the KIKS series are Keyes 1982 and van der Ing and Schaap 1992. Japanese sources with images of some of the prints include Konishi 1977 and Akita 1999. For reviews of all such secondary sources, see the Bibliography section of this website.

Top