News nishikie

News nishikie timelines

By William Wetherall

First posted 1 September 2005
Last updated 10 October 2005

Tokyo and Osaka news nishikie

The following table is still under construction.
Introductory commentary and discussion also to follow.

TNS, YHS, and selected Osaka news nishikie timelines
In the light of political, regulatory, and social change, and the development of journalism
Overview of TNS and YHS news nishikie
TNS, YHS The Tokyo nichinichi shinbun (TNS) and Yubin hochi shinbun (YHS) news nishikie series came and went in 1874-1875. The few prints that came out in late 1876 and early 1877 were not really part of the main series but post-mortem twitches as it were.
Political, social, regulatory, and journalistic background

The years 1874-1875 were an interlude between two related civil wars -- the Boshin Wars of 1867-1868, straddling the end of the Tokugawa and the beginning of the Meiji periods, and the Seinan War of 1877, engendered by disputes which festered after the Boshin Wars. This first decade of the Meiji period was one of rapid, comprehensive, and extensive change of a scale rarely seen in the histories of nations. The times were alive and fraught with the usual mixture of hope and anxiety that comes when ambitious victors are determined to succeed.


The Taiwan Expedition and the Saga Rebellion of 1874 were major stories in both the Tonichi paper and the TNS nishikie. 1875 marked the 7th year memorial of the Battle of Ueno Hill, which was also treated in a TNS print.

At the end of 1876, the publisher of the THS and YHS nishikie put out prints about the Shinpuren Rebellion and other civil disturbances which, as fate had it, sparked the Seinan War that began in Kyushu in January/February 1877 and raged through September. This war spawned numerous stand-alone and short-series news nishikie, which all but disappear after the war.


A number of news magazines and newspapers sprouted in various locales in Japan during the last decade of the Edo period. Tokyo nichinichi shinbun, Tokyo's first daily, published its first issue on 29 March 1872 (solar), and Yubin hochi shinbun followed with its first issue on 1872-7-15 (solar).

Tonichi and Hochi were both "big news" (ooshinbun) papers that appealed to the better educated who tolerated if not coveted a less vernacular style of writing. Yomiuri shinbun, a more vernacular hence readable "small news" (koshinbun) paper, began publishing from 2 November 1874, and Hiragana eiri shinbun, Japan's first illustrated vernacular paper, started from 17 April 1875.


Newspapers were perhaps more strictly regulated than nishikie and other such printed matter at the time. A system of prior approval required that nishikie publishers submit a key-block proof of a print to an official, who would stamp the proof with a seal consisting of two graphs, one representing the year, the other the month, both based on the lunar calendar.

Compliance with the approval system seems to have depended a great deal on the publisher's attitude. Gusokuya obtained approval seals on fewer than sixty percent of the TNS nishikie, while all YHS nishikie published by Kinshodo during the months that seals were used, bear seals.

Aratamein "approval" seals impressed on keybock proofs Otodoke "reported" date stamps impressed on proofs
Tokyo nichinichi shinbun news nishikie (TNS)
Periods 1874 1875 1876 1877
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2
Stages 1 2 3 4
Issue #s Stage 1 1-220, Stage 1/2 322-781, Stage 2 813-1036, Stage 3 1043-1060 9003-9006
Serial #s All Stage 3 prints numbered sequentially 1-9. Of two 7s, one is out of order and stylistically odd. No serial #s
Dates Only 57 percent (62 of 108) of Stage 1-3 prints have seals. 100 prcnt
Title Banner with cherubs Banners cherubs
Border Simple vermilion border Simple
Drawers Yoshiiku Yoshimura
Writers 72 percent (78 of 108) of Stage 1-3 stories are signed, 62 percent (48 of 78) by Tentendo. All signed Stage 3 stories are by Tentendo. Only 9005 signed
Stories Human interest Civil unrest
Timeliness Very old More recent Recent
Yubin hochi shinbun news nishikie (YHS)
Periods 1874 1875 1876 1877
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2
Stages 1 2 3
Issue #s 425a-702 596, 621, 714-832 1127-9001
Serial #s All published Stage 3 prints have serial numbers -- 1127 (20), 1144 (22), and 1155 (26).  
Dates All have seals None are dated All have stamps
Title Banner on inaugural issue Box cartouche beside boxed story Banner
Border Simple purple border Decorated
Drawers Yoshitoshi + Toshimitsu Yoshitoshi
Writers Only 59 percent (34 of 58) of Stage 1 & 2 stories are signed. The most by a single writer was 10 (29 percent of signed prints). Shorin Hakuen, San'yutei Encho, and several others Kaka Ryuryu, Nononsha Nanryu Ikuso Sanjin
Stories Human interest Civil unrest
Timeliness Older More recent Recent
Overview of Osaka news nishikie
Osaka news nishikie series

Most Osaka news nishikie series were shorter lived than TNS and YHS. They lasted only a few months spanning the middle of 1875, appearing in spring, shortly after the start of YHS in Tokyo that spring, and ran through the summer, when the TNS series was quickly winding down.

Kanzen choaku nishikiga shinbun (Series 13) ran a bit longer than most of the other early Osaka series, but it too fell victim to a local crackdown on nishikie "shinbun" in August 1875.

Nishikiga hyakuji shinbun (Series 14), which started from fall in full compliance with the new rules, became the longest running, and most newspaperesque, series of all news nishikie series, putting out over 190 issues between very roughly September 1875 to 9 September 1876.

Political, social, regulatory, and journalistic background

Social climate

Osaka, thought not beyond the reach of Tokyo politics, had its own metronome when it came to the pace of daily life. The latest and the greatest usually came to, or began in, Tokyo first, and Osaka sometime later. If Tokyoites had been able to see television then, Osakans would still be listening to radio.


Osaka did not have the variety of news publications available to people in Tokyo. There had been a few news magazines but none did well. Consequently Osaka got most of its "big news" from Tokyo by importing Tokyo papers. It would take three days to a week for anything from Tokyo to arrive at Osaka by sea, the fastest and cheapest route.

While news nishikie in Osaka were clearly immitations of their earlier-starting Tokyo cousins, they had a farily clear field when it came to conveying sensational local stories of the "small news" kind. While some Osaka news nishikie merely digested Tokyo human interest stories, others reported original stories gathered from gossip and talk about, if not investigation into, local incidents.


Osaka did not have an approval seal system, but publishers were expected to get permission to sell their products. Some news nishikie publishers were called to account for their failure to obtain such permission. Other issues including the credibility of news stories, the accountability of writers and publishers who hid behind pen names, and plaguarism of stories from Tokyo newspapers and news nishikie.

All this came to a head in July and August 1875, by which time all early Osaka news nishikie series had already ceased publication, or were forced to stop publishing.

Disclosure stamps

Inventories of news nishikie published before the crackdown, and reprints, were subjected to rules that required the use of stamps to disclose the names of writers/editors, and the names if not also the addresses of publishers.

Suppression of "shinbun"

The word "shinbun" was suppressed in the names of earlier series Osaka news nishikie by several means, from replacing "bun" with "wa" or replacing "shinbun" with "zukai", to simply brushing out "shinbun" or "bun" on the print.

Permission to publish all nishikie required Crackdown Stricter control of "shinbun" publications
Selected Osaka news nishikie series
Periods 1874 1875 1876 1877
3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2
Woodblock-printed news pamphlet
published from
September 1872 until April 1875
Fujii Katsuzo, the publicity manager of this news magazine,
edited and published the news nishikie KCNgS/Z (Series 13)
A "small news" (koshinbun) paper. Osaka's first daily paper, though there had been other kinds of news publications in the city. Began from 14 December 1875
Continued until November 1877
A "big news" (ooshinbun) paper. TNS, YHS, and other Tokyo dailies were imported and sold by local agents, including some woodblock pulbishers. Began from 20 February 1876
Continued until 1881
Series 112 Series 1 (1-24 plus 1 unnumbered) and Series 12 (1 unumbered) are combined as Series 112.
No. 8 became subject of 1875-03-18 (671) Yubin hochi shinbun article.
No. 13 censured because title cartouche resembled Osaka prefecture flag.
1-24 (Series 1) Sr 12

Single unnumbered orphan print (Series 12) drawn by Sadahiro rather than Sadanobu. Title and style of showing publication particulars conforms with post-crackdown rules. Titled Nishikiga zukai instead of Nishikiga shinbun (title of Series 1 reprints). Actual name of editor and publisher (Ishikawa Wasuke) appear instead of handles used before crackdown.

Title variations
Osaka nishikiga/e shinbun
Osaka nishikiga shinwa
Osaka nishikiga
Nishikiga shinbun
Series 23 1. Series 2 and Series 3 merged into common common Series 23.
2. See ONgSw Variations (23) under Articles for merger details.
1-55 -- Series 2 + 3
Title variations
Osaka nishikiga shinwa
Osaka nishikie shinwa
Osaka nishikiga shinbun
Series 13 1. Name of publishing group changed from Shinbunkyoku to Shuppanjo from No. 37.
2. Title changed from shinbun to zukai from No. 38, and "shinbun" suppressed in remaining and/or reprinted issues of Nos. 1-37
/ zukai
Chronology Change of title
from KCNg shinbun
to KCNg zukai
took place during
August 1874
Series 14 1. Format changed from woodblock-printed to moveable-type printed story from No. 114.
2. Title changed from nishikiga to nishikie in the extra edition announcing the format change and in Nos. 114-120 immediately following the extra, then back to nishikiga from No. 121.
No. 114 -- Thursday, 1 July 1876
No. 190 -- Sunday, 9 September 1876
Endeavors to be daily from No. 114
Self-styled "bi-daily" from No.186.