Osaka news nishikie

Reconstructing Series 23:
Osaka nishikie/ga shinwa/bun

By William Wetherall

First posted 1 October 2005
Last updated 10 October 2005

Linguistic note

In the following article, "nishikiga" and "nishikie" are used to differentiate щ and ъG, though both are read "nishikie".

Uniting Series 2 and 3


Series 23 = Series 2 U Series 3
The reunion of "shinwa" and "shinbun"
General introduction
Reconstructed Awabun / Ishiwa group

Most prints in this groups were drawn by Sasaki Yoshitaki, followed by Hasegawa Sadanobu II.

Series 1
1. Osaka nishikiga shinbun

Tsuchiya remarks that the publisher and parodist Miyatake Gaikotsu (1867-1955) a publisher parodist, treated treated Series 2 Osaka nishikie shinbun prints together with prints in this series, and observes that some Series 2 prints are in fact entitled Osaka nishikiga shinbun like Series 1 prints. However, as she points out, the overall design of the two series is totally different, beginning with their borders and title cartouches.

It is somewhat ironic, then, that Tsuchiya should classify a "shinwa" variation of a Series 1 print as a Series 3 print -- simply on account of its title. As a result of our merging Series 3 into Series 2, the issue that Tsuchiya has been listing (in both Tsuchiya 1995 and Tsuchiya 2000) as a No. 16 will rejoin its family in Series 1. For further details, see the discussion of No. 16 under Series 3 below.

As a result of this move, Series 1 will be recognized as a "shinbun" series, some issues of which were later reprinted with "shinwa" in place of "shinbun" -- No. 16 being at least one example.

We will also acknowledge the existence of variations entitled simply Osaka nishikie on account of the space for "shinbun" or "shinwa" being blank -- the graphs for one term or the other having been chiselled off the block before printing.

Series 2
2. Osaka nishikie shinbun

Both Tsuchiya 1995 and 2000 list two issues in this series, Nos. 25 and 36, that have "shinwa" variants in Series 3. As a result of merging Series 3 into this series, the resulting Series 23 will be seen to have later "shinwa" variants of issues that most likely had "shinbun" on their first impressions. For further details, see the discussions of Nos. 6 and 36, and No. 25, under Series 3 below.

Series 3
3. Osaka nishikiga shinwa

Nos. 6 and 36 -- The image database on Tsuchiya 2000 shows a No. 6 and a No. 36 for Series 3. Both are also listed in the tables on Tsuchiya 2000 and in Tsuchiya 1995. However, the image file for No. 36 is the same as the image file for No. 6 -- a simple enough editorial oversight. Elsewhere on Tsuchiya 2000, in fact, there is an image file which shows both Nos. 6 and 36 in the "shinwa" series (Series 3). The two "shinwa" prints are identical to each other except for their number, and both are identical in design to No. 36 in the "shinbun" series (Series 2). In fact, No. 36 with "shinwa" appears to be a later impression of No. 36 with "shinbun". And No. 6 with "shinwa" appears to be an impression in which the ridges that would have printed the single graph for "30" have vanished from the block -- probably through an accident when recarving that part of the block. The graph for "30" appears immediatly below, and very close to, the graph for "bun". In the process of chiselling out "bun" and embedding a plug of wood with "wa", the graph for "30" could have been knicked. At some point while producing the "shinwa" prints, parts of the graph could easily have broken off. The rest of the graph for "30" would simply have been chiselled away, leaving only the graph for "6". So the last batch of No. 36 prints came out No. 6.

No. 16 -- This print is clearly not part of either Series 2 or 3. It is identical in design to, and merely a "shinwa" variant of, No. 16 in Series 1. When merging Series 3 into Series 2, we will return this orphaned print to its kin in Series 1.

No. 25 -- The table in Tsuchiya 2000 shows No. 25, which is not in the image database, in parentheses. A print of identical design and number is associated with Series 2. The title cartouche is done in such a way that part of the "shinbun" is mostly obliterated by the figure of a man. Only the top part of "shin" can be seen, and the "bun" is entirely hidden behind the man. Because the image of the man covers the lower part of the title cartouche, the issue number is written vertically to the left of the title, rather than below the title as on other prints in both Series 2 and 3. Hence it is impossible to determine if the graph that should follow "shin" would be "bun" or "wa". This is probably why No. 25 is bracketed in the table on Tsuchiya 2000 but not in Tsuchiya 1995 -- and why it was omitted from the image database in Tsuchiya 2000.

Series 23
Osaka nishikie/ga shinbun / shinwa

Merging Series 3 into Series 2

Even without confirming the existence of a "shinwa" variation of No. 25, the "shinbun" / "shinwa" variations of No. 36 qualify it as a key through which to link Series 3 with Series 2. By merging Series 3 into Series 2, we reconstruct a unified series that came to have "shinbun/shinwa" in addition to "e/ga" variations.

That the two series belong together is visually suggested by examining the two sets of issue numbers and their union. The series of numbers very neatly dovetail, one into the other, resulting in a single series which, as we will see, makes more sense in the light of how it becomes possible to explain the replacement of "shinbun" by "shinwa" in latter impressions of the issues in this (and other) series.

Series 2 (shinbun) 15 issues (14+1)
11, 25, 30, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 46, 55, unnumbered diptych

Series 3 (shinwa) 18 issues (17+1)
1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 16, 19, (25), 36, 49, unnumbered single print

Series 23 = Series 2 U Series 3 (shinbun/shinwa) = 29 issues (27+2)
1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 19, 25, 30, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 46, 49, 55, unnumbered diptych, unnumbered single print

Note -- Issues in italics were published by Awabun. Most other issues were published by Ishiwa.

Series 23 has no No. 6 and only one No. 36 because the three varieties of this issue conflate as one No. 36 (green). The two possible variants of No. 25 (blue) similarly conflate. No 16. (red) is omitted because it is really a variation of, and therefore conflates with, No. 16 in Series 1. The union of known numbered issues in Series 2 and 3 is consequently four prints fewer (27) than the sum of the number of such issues listed in the tables (31-4). The two unnumbered issues raise the total number of known issues in the new series to 29.

The results of the above considerations are shown below. The previously shown tables for Series 2 and 3 are repeated for comparison. See Censoring "shinbun" from Osaka news nishikie, immediately following this section, for a fuller discussion of the treatment of "shinbun" in later impressions of all Osaka news nishikie.


AB = Ayabun [Mori Bunzo]
IW = Ishiwa [Ishikawa Wasuke]


HS = Hasegawa Sadanobu II
KH = Kinoshita Hironobu
SY = Sasaki Yoshitaki
Oth = Others
Uns = Unsigned

Ser Short
Pub Art Title
Dates Known
3 ONgSw Osaka
AB, (IW) SY, HS, KH Vertical
1-49 18
2 ONeS Osaka
IW, AB, Oth SY, HS, KH Vertical
11-55 15
23 ONegSSw Osaka
/ shinwa
IW, AB, Oth SY, HS, KH Vertical
1-55 29

Poor survival rate

There are many ways to explain the "shinbun" / "shinwa" variation in Series 23. All known issues 1-19 were published by Awabun. Since issues up to No. 10 have "shinwa", perhaps that was the name of the series when Awabun began publishing it. But why would he then publish No. 11 as "shinbun" and resume publishing 12-19 as "shinwa" Then Ishiwa and others jump in with "shinbun"? Then Iwabun puts out No. 36 first with "shinbun" then with "shinwa"? Then decides he wants to call the "shinwa" No. 6? Doesn't make much sense.

Analysis of the stages of development of the Tokyo nichinichi shinbun (TNS) and Yubin hochi shinbun (YHS) series showed that, despite the very different personalities of the publishers regarding their use of aratamein "approval" seals, they were remarkably consistent in matters concerning overall design and format. The Osaka news nishikie series are also very consistent regarding design.

No, artisans are not inclined to be arbitrary or sporadic in their choice of design elements. They are both conformists and creatures of habit. The publisher of a particular series would decide upon a format and pretty much stick with it. The extreme variation in the patterns on the flag cartouches of Series 1 is intentional -- but the title is fixed. The vertical cherub cartouche of Series 23 is allowed to be placed on either the right or left.

Were variations arbirary?

Was the writing of the "e" of "nishikie" left to the whims of the drawer, published or carver?

1. Perhaps the positioning of the cartouche right or left, or the writing of "nishikie" in the title with "e" or "ga", or the choice of "shinbun" or "shinwa", correlates with the publisher, drawer, or carver. There are only 27 numbered issues in Series 23. It's easy enough to compile figures to see what patterns might emerge. Here are the results.

Analysis of ONeS/NgSw (Series 23) variations

Series 23 -- Osaka nishikie/ga shinbun/wa
Cartouche positions, title variations, publishers, drawers, carvers,
and other particulars by issue number, for known copies

General Introduction

Reconstructed Awabun / Ishiwa group

Title Cartouche


R = right
L = left

nishikie / nishikiga

e = nishikie
ga = nishikiga

shinbun / shinwa

wa = shinwa
bun = shinbun
?? = obscured by picture
[bo] = shinbun brushed out


AB = Ayabun cartouche [MB]
FM = Fujimasa cartouche
IW = Ishiwa cartouche
MB = Mori Bunzo cartouche [AB]
MBs = Mori Bunzo stamp [AB]
YZ = Yaozen cartouche
SBK = Shinbunkyoku cartouche


SY = Sasaki Yoshitaki
SYm = Sasaki Yoshimitsu
[Ss] = Sasaki stamp
HS = Hasegawa Sadanobu II
KH = Kinoshita Hironobu


A = Asajiro [tentative]
F = Fukuzo
H = Han'yu [friend of publisher]
K1 = Kyuichi [nine one]
Ki = Kyuichi [nine market]
N = Naniwa
S = Shige
Sh = Shigeharu
T = Tora
?? = cartouche dark
-- = cartouche blank


AB = Araya Bunko (Araya Shigeki Collection at Mainichi shinbun
KB = Kanbara Bunko (Kanbara Jinzo Collection at Kawaga University)
NB = Nishigaki Bunko (Nishigaki Buichi Collection at Waseda University)
OHK = Ono Hideo Korekushon (Ono Hideo Collection at Tokyo University)

Other collections

MB = Meiji Bunko (Tokkyo Daigai Ho Gakubu Meiji Shinbun Zasshi Bunko)
TSK = Tokyo Daigaku Shakai Joho Kenkyujo (Shajoken) [Institute of Socio-Information and Communication Studies (ISICS)]
UB = Ueno Bunko (Kyoto Daigaku Keizai Gakubu Toshoshitsu)
YB = Yosha Bunko (Yosha Kenkyujo)

t = Tsuchiya 2000. "t" means that an image of this copy has been seen on this CD-ROM. "1t" under Araya or Other means I have seen the image only on Tsuchiya 2000. "1t" in Kanbara, Nishigaki, or Ono means that I have seen the same image in these on-line databases. "t?" means I have seen the image only on Tsuchiya 2000. An entry like "1t, 1" means I have seen "1t" in Tsuchiya 2000, and both "1t, 1" in the attributed database, whereas "1t?, 1" would mean I have seen "1t?" only on Tsuchiya 2000.

Iss Title Cartouche Producers Collections
Pos Ne/Ng Sb/Sw Pub Art Car AB KB NB OHK Oth
1 L e wa AB SY 1t 2
2 L e wa AB SY Sh 1t? 1
3 R e wa AB SY 1t? 1
5 R ga wa AB HS T 1t 1 1
7 R ga wa AB HS T 1t 1 1
8 L ga wa AB HS 1t 1 1 1
9 L e wa AB SY -- 1 1TSK
10 R ga wa AB HS 1t 1 1
11 R e bun
AB SY S 1t 1 1YB
12 R ga wa AB HS T 1t 1 1
13 R ga wa AB HS 1t 1 1
14 L ga wa AB HS 1t
1 1 1
19 R ga wa MB KH 1t 1 1
25 L e ?? IW HS K1 1t 1
30 L e bun IW SYm A 1t 1
32 L e bun IW SY A 1t 1 3 1
33 R e bun YZ N 1 1t, 1
34 R ga bun IW HS 1t 1 1
35 L e bun ?? SY 1 1t
36 R e bun
AB SY F 1b36 1w36t
1w36 1w6m
37 L e bun IW
SY Ki 1t
38 L e bun
SYm H 1t
39 R e bun IW SY? H 1t 1
40 L e bun IW SY? 1t 1 1
46 R e bun YZ SY 1t 1 2 1
49 L e wa AB SY -- 1t
55 L e bun IW SY Ki 1t
Un1 L ga wa AB HS ?? 1 1t
Un2 L Hochi FM KH 1t