TNS news nishikie

From souvenirs to news

By William Wetherall

First posted 1 September 2005
Last updated 20 January 2008

Tsuchiya versus Ono    News  |  Not souvenirs  |  Miyatake Gaikotsu and Kishida Ginko  |  Cracks in "souvenir" theory  |  Exceeded nature of souvenirs  |  Picture supplements  |  Topic and subject  |  Very vexing  |  So where's the problem?  |  Not one or the other
Story lag analysis    Table 1: Seal dates and story writers by issue date  |  Table 2: Seal dates by lag between issue date
What the tables tell us    1874 conversations  |  Change of purpose  |  Inspiration and motivation  |  Eiri and Yomiuri

Tsuchiya versus Ono

Were news nishikie souvenirs or news?

Ono Hideo argued that they were souvenirs and called them shinbun nishikie to stress that they were nishikie, or color woodblock prints made for the souvenir market, and not news.

Tsuchiya Reiko calls them nishikie shinbun to emphasize that they were news if not newspapers, and not just nishikie souvenirs.

However, an analysis of estimated lags in time that stories appeared in the Tokyo nichinichi shinbun nishikie (TNS), after appearing in the Tokyo nichinichi shinbun newspaper (Tonichi), suggests that TNS prints -- like all news nishikie -- were born as souvenirs that posed as news -- but failed because they couldn't compete with illustrated vernacular papers as either souvenirs or news.

The essential souvenir nature of TNS and other news nishikie is also seen in the manner in which publishers reissued popular prints in later editions, long after they could have had any news value.

See TNS print variations for a look at later reissues in the TNS series.


Tsuchiya 1 -- News

Tsuchiya criteria for "news" are "regularity" [teikisei] and "quickness of reporting" or "timeliness" [sokuhosei], and she tries to show how regularly and quickly publishers put out Tokyo nichinichi shinbun and Yubin hochi shinbun news nishikie.

In "Nishikie shinbun to wa nani ka" [What are nishike shinbun?], an article in Nyuusu no tanjo [The birth of news] (Kinoshita and Yoshimi 1999:102-104), she makes the following statements in the body and in a footnote (page 103, and note 4).

. . . As for the Tokyo nichinichi shinbun and Yubin hochi shinbun series, a regularity [teikisei] is recognized in that, during the interval between November 1874 and August the following year, one nishikie shinbun is published in the interval during which from three to five issues of the main paper [honshi] are published. [Note 4] That is, nishikie shinbun were being produced as visual regular news media [me de miru teikiteki nyuusu baitai] that attracted uneducated people [hichishikijin] who did not understand anything about news [nyuusu] and couldn't read Chinese characters or Chinese words. People, after being drawn to the picture, would learn the content, reading the text or having it read to them, and may have understood in the midst of such acts what "shinbun" = "news" was.

[Note 4] . . . And the recollections of a ezoshiya, that the publication [hakko] of the Tokyo nichinichi shinbun series was "very stressful" [hanno o kiwame], is probably testimony that substantiates the busyness [isogashisa] of the publication of such nishikie shinbun (Nagata 1992:35).

An "ezoshiya" (絵草紙屋) was a publisher/seller of woodblock picture books and prints. Tsuchiya quotes a longer version of the recollection cited in Note 4 in another article, which we will be looking at next.

Tsuchiya's 1995 book, Osaka no nishikie shinbun [Nishikie newspapers of Osaka], is dedicated to showing that Osaka news nishikie were the local equivalent of "shinbun" (news) at a time when "shinbunshi" (newspapers) had not yet appeared in that part of Japan. In the above article, she is arguing that even Tokyo news nishikie should be called "nishikie shinbun" and not "shinbun nishikie" because they, too, were really "shinbun" = "news" rather than nishikie souvenirs.


Tsuchiya 2.1 -- Not souvenirs

In "Ono Hideo ni yoru nishikie shinbun no hakken" [The discovery of nishikie shinbun by Ono Hideo], in the same Nyuusu no tanjo publication (Ibid. 283-285), Tsuchiya fires another salvo in her effort to sink Ono's "shinbun nishikie" label. In this second article, she raises doubts about his souvenir theory, and cites a fuller version of the ezoshiya testimony in the body of the article.

She points out that in the late 1910s, when Ono stumbled upon a copy of a Tokyo nichinichi shinbun nishikie and began doing research on such prints, their were commonly known as "nishikie shinbun" [nishikie news], but that Ono, from his earliest writing in 1921, also used the term "shinbun nishikie" [news nishikie].

In 1928, Ono explained that he regarded Tokyo prints as "Tokyo souvenirs aimed at the masses" and would call them "shinbun nishikie" -- whereas he saw Osaka prints as "graphics of pure Japanese style" and would call them "nishikie shinbun". Ono repeated this distinction in his spectacular 1972 book, Shinbun nishikie, the title of which set the standard for what many writers and dealers now call "shinbun nishikie".

Tsuchiya points out that Ono's 1972 book presents only Tokyo oban news nishikie -- but why not, for it was published in celebration of the 100th year of Mainichi shinbun, whose Tokyo roots go back to Tokyo nichinichi shinbun, founded in 1872. More to point, however, she rebukes Ono for avoiding the problem of what to call Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and other such prints in general. In his earlier writing he seems to have used "nishikie shinbun" -- the term in use when he began doing his research. His 1972 book, however, gives the impression that one might as well call all such prints "shinbun nishikie" -- though he does not actually say this.

Tsuchiya has problems with why Ono came around to calling Tokyo prints "SOUVENIRS" (shinbun NISHIKIE), when contemporary late Taisho and early Showa researchers, from Sumiyoshi Risaburo and Nishimura Shinbee (1920), Yoshino Sakuzo (1924), Miyatake Gaikotsu (1925), Ishii Kendo (1926), and Ono himself (1926), were calling them "NEWS" (nishikie SHINBUN).


Tsuchiya 2.2 -- Miyatake Gaikotsu and Kishida Ginko

Tsuchiya feels that Ono was led to this distinction because of what the publisher and parodist Miyatake Gaikotsu (1867-1955) wrote in an article called "Tokyo miyage to shite no shinbunshi" [Newspapers as Tokyo souvenirs] in his well-known book, Meiji kibun [Meiji amazing stories] (see review of Miyatake 1997 in Bibliography). Miyatake refers to an article in a 1875 issue of Choya shinbun (see review of Higuchi 1962), which observed that travelers from the provinces were regarding "Tokyo newspapers" the same way they had regarded "Edo nishikie" -- namely, as souvenirs.

Miyatake, as cited by Tsuchiya, conjectures as follows (Ibid. 284, Miyatake 1925:xyz).

That if one were to draw articles from newspapers [shinbun] for nishikie, and publish them with the names and issue numbers of the original newspapers, they would combine past and present and serve both, be great as Tokyo souvenirs in the age of enlightenment, doubtlessly sell, and definitely make money -- was probably the idea of someone like Kishida Ginko.

Kishida Ginko (1833-1905) was indeed an entrepreneur. He also happened to be a writer, and he joined the Tokyo nichinichi shinbun newspaper (Tonichi) staff as a journalist in 1873. In 1874, before the Tokyo nichinichi shinbun nishikie (TNS) project got underway, he accompanied Saigo Tsugumichi's punitive expedition to Taiwan, becoming Japan's first foreign correspondent, and Tonichi's first "embedded" reporter. Several of the stories he fed back to the newspaper were featured in the nishikie, including one about him. But there is no evidence that Kishida was involved in the nishikie project.

In any case, Tsuchiya surmises that, influenced by Miyatake's remark, Ono must have seen TNS and other Tokyo news nishikie, as a combination of the "topicality" [wadaisei] of newspapers and the visual beauty of nishikie. In a market aimed at tourists from the provinces, you go for something beautiful, drawn by a famous drawer, rather than speed in reporting content [naiyo no sokuhosei]. Hence, in Ono's view, they were not "news through nishikie" [nishikie ni yoru shinbun] but "nishikie through news articles" [shinbun kiji ni yoru nishikie].


Tsuchiya 2.3 -- Cracks in "souvenir" theory

While crediting Ono with advancing our structural understanding of the relationship between news nishikie and newspapers, Tsuchiya raises many doubts about the view that "nishikie shinbun" (as she calls everything) were produced as Tokyo souvenirs. Sure, just as tourists sought newspapers as souvenirs, not a few probably sought "nishikie shinbun" as souvenirs. But that doesn't mean the "nishikie shinbun" were made as souvenirs.

Tsuchiya also argues that, if the news nishikie had been made as souvenirs, then surely a lot more would have been produced after 1886 [1887 iko], when Tokyo was politically stable and visitors increased -- but they weren't (Ibid. 284).

Tsuchiya then quotes a fuller version of the recollection of an ezoshiya, cited in Note 4 of the first article we examined, that publication of TNS was "stressful" (Ibid. 284).

And why -- as an ezoshiya recalls, "[The publishing of] the Tokyo nichinichi shinbun picture supplements [furoku] drawn by Yoshiiku was very stressful" [Tokyo nichinichi shinbun efuroku Yoshiiku hitsu nite hanno o kiwame (東京日々新聞絵附ロク芳幾筆にて繁悩ヲ極メ)] (Note 7, Nagata 1992:35) -- does it seem that [the TNS nishikie] were published at the fairly short spacing of four or five days?


Tsuchiya 2.4 -- Exceeded nature of souvenirs

Finally, Tsuchiya argues that news nishikie exceeded the nature of mere souvenirs, in that censorship was applied, corrections were demanded, and they were barred from being sold. She does not say "a few" or "some" or "now and then" -- she just says these things happened.

But how many news nishikie were subject to censorship before or after publication? Or to corrections after complaints were made? Or to sales bans? Two or three total, or even this many in a hundred?

Is there any evidence that publishers were unwilling to take such risks, or wouldn't actually profit from the notoriety of such negative attention?

The fact that 46 (41 percent) of the 112 known TNS prints did not have an approval (censor's) seal suggests that perhaps such formalities did not matter that much. The new publishing law, which replaced the aratamein (approval seal) system with the otodoke (reporting) system, came into force after the main series had ended.


Nitpicking 1 -- Picture supplements

The "ezoshiya" who's recollection Tsuchiya cited is called only "Mr. M" by Nagata (see review of Nagata 1992 in Bibliography). Note that Mr. M has characterized the TNS prints as "efuroku" (picture supplements). Note also that Tsuchiya does not comment on this characterization.

If in fact the TNS prints were truly "picture supplements", then they would have been neither "souvenirs" nor "news" but merely "supplements" to the newspaper -- and Tsuchiya, as well as Ono, would be wrong.

If, on the other hand, the TNS prints were not supplements -- and both Ono and Tsuchiya appear to be of the opinion that they were not the doing of the newspaper, and were not distributed by the paper -- then Mr. M, who apparently did not write his recollections until as late as the second decade of the 20th century, was experiencing faulty memory. Such an error would be understandable, since all of the details he presents by way of comparing a short list of woodblock publishers centers on 1889 and 1890, immediately after 1886-1888, when Yamato shinbun commissioned and distributed the twenty prints in Yoshitoshi's Kinsei jinbutsu shi series as a monthly supplement.

At a minimum this would mean that Mr. M's recollections of earlier events and matters should be used with caution -- which goes without saying when citing any source, but particularly an account of events or conditions decades after one experienced them.


Nitpicking 2 -- Topic and subject

Tsuchiya both somewhat inaccurately and vaguely cited Mr. M's "very stressful" recollection. She omitted the topic of "very stressful" though she represented it (publication / publishing) in the context of her quotation. She also did not specify the subject, which is perfectly clear in the source from which she is quoting.

The sentence actually reads "THE PUBLISHING OF the Tokyo nichinichi shinbun picture supplements [furoku] drawn by Yoshiiku was very stressful [FOR FUKUDA]" [Tokyo nichinichi shinbun efuroku Yoshiiku hitsu nite SHUPPAN WA hanno o kiwame" [東京日々新聞絵附ロク芳幾筆ニテ出版ハ繁悩ヲ極メ] (Nagata 1992:35).

The topic of the entire section in Mr. M's recollections, from which Tsuchiya is quoting, is Fukuda Kumajiro, aka Gusokuya, the publisher of the TNS series. Everything in the Fukuda section, before and after the "very stressful" remark, is a commentary on Fukuda's problems. In fact, Nagata introduces Mr. M's memoranda in order to shed light on the problems that beset woodblock publishers in a rapidly changing and very competitive printing industry, which forced most publishers, including Fukuda, to publish things other than nishikie, or perish -- and Fukuda, according to Mr. M, turned to picture postcards.

It is therefore very likely that Mr. M was not just saying that Fukuda was "very busy" with Yoshiiku's nishikie. If he were to make enough money to pay his employees and support his family, he would have to be -- and want to be -- super busy. Why would just being busy be a cause for stress?


Nitpicking 3 -- Very vexing

There is a very interesting linguistic problem here. Mr. M's memorandum reads "hanno o kiwameru" (繁悩を極める), which is not well attested -- that is, it not found in dictionaries, or otherwise known to be idiomatic. Whereas "hanbo o kiwameru" (繁忙を極める) is very well established. Either 悩 is an error for 忙, made by the mysterious Mr. M (Tsuchiya's "ezoshiya"), if not by his transcriber (Nagata) -- or Mr. M indeed intended 悩 -- and meant that Fukuda was not just "busy" but emotionally "stressed" (Yoshiiku, a lover of puns, would have said "pressed") from the publishing of the TNS prints.

The linguistic problem has another fold. There are a number of compounds in which 繁 and 煩 are interchanged. While 繁 often has the meaning of "many" or "numerous" or "complex" or "prolific", it shares with 煩 the meaning of "troubling" or "annoying" -- especially when preceding another character that has a negative sense.

煩忙 (hanbo) is a well established synonym of 繁忙 (hanbo), both meaning very busy. 煩雑 (hanzatsu) and 繁雑 (hanzatsu) both mean "troubling complication", or simply "complicated" or "cumbersome".

煩悩 -- read "bonno", not "hanno" -- is a Chinese translation of a Sanskrit term meaning "vexation" in the Buddhist sense of an emotional burden caused by worldly desires. 煩悩を極める (bonno o kiwameru), though about as uncommon as 繁悩を極める (hanno o kiwameru), might mean that one is extremely vexed by carnal or other passions.


So where's the problem?

Gusokuya published about 110 TNS prints in the span of a year. Kinshodo published about 60 Yubin hochi nishikie in a comparable span of time. Seasoned drawers like Yoshiiku and Yoshitoshi could have whipped out a drawing suitable for carving in a day. The key block could have been carved in a day or two. The color schemes could have been determined, and the color blocks carved, in another two or three days.

Would Fukuda have been stressed, vexed, or otherwise perplexed by a three to five day rate of publication? His carvers and printers could only work so fast. If the prints were selling as quickly as they came off the blocks and reached the distributors, wouldn't he have been making money hand over fist? And wouldn't this have been the whole object of the publishing project?

Why did Gusokuya publish as many Tokyo nichinichi shinbun prints as he did? It must have been to make money. He couldn't have been publishing all those prints in order to prove it could be done. And in terms of sheer number of issues, at least in the Tokyo area, which is all that would have mattered to him, he was way ahead of the nearest competition, namely Kinshodo, the publisher of Yoshitoshi's Yubin hochi shinbun nishikie series, who in the same time span did not put out as many prints as Gusokuya.

Assuming that Nagata transcribed Mr. M correctly, and that Mr. M wrote what he meant, it would seem that Fukuda was bothered by something other than the pressures of a busy schedule -- most likely by something related to the publishing project itself. He would not have been vexed by a lust for profit. But he would have been anxious if the prints weren't selling that well, or if he worried that the boom was about to go bust because Yoshiiku and his writers were scheming up an illustrated paper that would quickly render news nishikie -- whether intended as "souvenirs" or "news" -- obsolete.

Perhaps Mr. M did mean that Gusokuya was "vexed" or "stressed" or "pressed" by a busy schedule. But the context of the remark suggests that he was bothered by something that was, for him, a real problem -- an economic or relationship problem. If he was worried about anything concerning the TNS prints, it must have been because Yoshiiku, and his principle writers, were scheming to begin an illustrated paper that would cut into his sales, such as they were.

In fact, very shortly after the peak in "business" at Gusokuya's shop, Yoshiiku, Takabatake, and Okada either quit -- or Gusokuya himself called an end to the project. One suspects it was mutual -- a hard business decision made by realists.


Not one or the other

Still, Tsuchiya's doubts about whether news nishikie were souvenirs, or news, deserves consideration. The problem with the way she poses the question, however, is that we are asked to choose between her and Ono. Either she, or Ono, is right.

However, would we want to characterize what must be a complex artifact and phenomenon with only one or the other single label?

Wouldn't it make more sense to consider the possibility that the TNS prints were, as Miyatake suggests, a combination of both old and new, souvenir and news? And before any further speculation, shouldn't we attempt to ask some questions that might be answerable through quantitative investigation?

Namely, why not try to get an empirical grip on the dynamics of the balance between the "souvenir" versus "news" traits -- by asking whether the "topicalness" or "speed of reporting" changed during the one-year run of the TNS prints?

In order to answer this question, we have to resort, as we did when addressing questions about the changes in cherub designs and seals (see TNS Cerubs and Seals), to an analysis of the prints themselves.


Story lag analysis

Initial observation

It is clear from a cursory glance at the relationship between the issue number and the seal date, as seen in the table in the article on TNS Cherubs and Seals, that the Tokyo nichinichi shinbun nishikie (TNS prints) were not published in the order that their source stories were run in the Tonichi newspaper. Such tables also suggest that, for the first few months after its start in 1874, the TNS series featured mostly past events, and only later turned predominately to current events.

If in fact the series began with a focus on older stories, then gradually or quickly turned its attention mainly or entirely to newer stories, this would tell us something about the development of the nishikie series as a medium of illustrated news. Knowing whether the series changed its focus from past to present, during first few months, would illuminate the significance of events in later months, when its sole designer Ochiai Yoshiiku, and its principle writers, Takabatake Ransen and Okada Jisuke, launched Japan's first illustrated newspaper, then abandoned the nishikie project.

The question, then, is did TNS prints begin as mere souvenir prints about past events, with no pretensions of conveying news, and later re-conceive itself as a conveyor of illustrated news?


Table 1: Story dates, print dates, and writers

The following table lists all TNS prints, ordered by their issue number, which is the issue of the Tonichi paper that reported the story on the print. The issue numbers are grouped by year and month. The wide column in the middle shows the variety of seals that appear on prints with issue numbers in the group. The columns to the right show who wrote the stories, about which more later.

Notice that the seal dates do not strictly follow the order of the issue dates. This means that stories were picked up according to criteria based on something other than when they were reported in the Tonichi paper.

Notice also that, despite the lack of strict correlation between issue number and seal date, the seals representing the first few months are associated with earlier issues. This would not be the case had the focus of the earlier nishikie been on current, rather than past, events.

TNS lag time analysis Table 1
Seal dates and story writers by issue date
Issues and Seals Writers
m = "manji" (卍)
x = "rotated ju" (X)
187X-YZ*# = # of 187X-YZ seals
? = unclear, unconfirmed, or undeciphered
n = no seal
TS = Tentendo Shujin
OR = Onkokudo Ryugin
SA = Sansantei Arindo
Oth = Others
Uns = Unsigned
Yr Mo Issues ### Seals TS OR SA Oth Uns
106 prints with issue numbers
1872 The first issue of Tokyo nichinichi shinbun, the newspaper, was published on Meiji 5-2-21 (29 March 1872). TNS-1, the nishikie, which features a story from this issue, has a 1874-10m seal.
2 1-3 2 1874-10m*2 1 1
4 40-50 2 [50=48] 1874-9*2 1 1
6 101-111 2 1874-9, 10m 2
9 185 1 n 1
10 220 1 1874-8 1
1873 1
3 322 1 1874-10x 1
7 428-431 2 1874-10x, n 1 1
8 445 1 1874-9 1
9 472-491 2 1874-8, 10x 1 1
10 512 1 1874-10m 1
12 566 1 n 1
1874 1 592 1 n 1
4 656 1 n 1
5 687-697 4 1874-10x*2, n2 1 2 1
6 708-726 4 1874-10m*2, 10x, 12 1 1 1 1
7 736-754 5 1874-9, 10m, 10x*2, n 4 1
8 781 1 1874-9 1
10 813-838 6 1874-10x*3, 11*2, n 3 3
11 847-865 10 [856b=858] 1874-11, 12*3, n6 5 1 1 3
12 873-892 6 [900=890] 1874-12*2, n4 2 1 1 2
1875 1 895-919 13 [911b=910] 1875-1*3, 3, ?*3, n6 4 2 7
2 923-944 9 1875-2*2, 3*2, n5 3 2 3 1
3 951-969 4 1875-3, 4, n2 4
4 975-992 9 1875-4*5, n4 9
5 1009-1027 5 1875-8*2, n3 5
6 1036-1055 10 1875-8*6, n4 9 1
7 1059-1060 2 [1060=1059] n2 1 1
6 prints without issue numbers
Stage 2 9001-9002 2 1874-10x, n 1 1
Stage 4 9003-9006 4 1876-11, 12*3 1 3
Totals and percentages of signed articles by writers
TNS 1-9006 112 Totals 48 13 11 7 33
100 Percents 43 12 10 6 29
Percents = 100 * Total prints / 112 prints TS OR SA Oth Uns
TNS story writers and their monikers
TS (48) Tentendo Shujin (23), Tentendo (11), Tentendo Dondon (9), Tentendo Rakusen (3), Dondon (1), Takabatake Rakusen (1)
OR (13) Onkokudo Ryugin (11), Onkoku Ryugin (Okada) (1), Ryugin (1)
SA (11) Sansantei Arindo (9), Arindo (1), Rogetsutei Ayahiko (1)
Oth (7) Others Tenka Rojin (2), Ha Sanjin (2), Hyakkuri Sanjin (1), Katei Otoko (1), Shosan (1)
Uns (33) Unsigned


1. There are actually 115 prints not including color variations and a few other minor variations, some of them the result of later editions. The 112 count does not include the promotional flyer TNS-0. Nor does it include the censored variation of TNS-851 (long known and shown) and the souvenirized variation of TNS-9003 (reported and shown for the first time in CCMA 2008).

2. The data in the above tables was initially taken from tables in Tsuchiya 1995 and Tsuchiya 2000. I then corrected the few errors and discrepancies in these sources by direct examination of copies of prints and/or scans, including the scans in Tsuchiya 2000. I did a second edit based on an examination of the prints shown in CCMA 2008.


Table 2: Calculating lag time

Lag between nishikie and newspaper is easy to calculate.

For example, Issue 1 of the Tonichi paper was published on Meiji 5-2-21 (lunar), or 29 March 1874 (solar). However, TNS-1, the print which features the murder story reported in this first issue of the paper, bears a seal date of 1874-10 -- which may be lunar, despite the official change to solar dates from 1 January 1873. This means a lag of about 32 months (1874-10 minus 1872-2) between the nishikie and newspaper versions of the stories. Even if the 1874-10 seal date is solar, the error would be only a month or so -- which is negligible for our purposes.

In contrast, Issue 1047 was published on 22 June 1875 (solar), and TNS-1047, the nishikie version of the murder incident it reported, bears a 1875-8 seal. The lag in this case is only 2 months (1874-8 minus 1874-6) -- again, give or take a month if the seal is lunar.

Analysis limited to prints with seals

To show whether the TNS nishikie project begin with a focus on the past, and then drifted or suddenly shifted to a focus on the present, we need only examine a distribution of the lag between nishikie and newspaper stories, by the date of the nishikie.

A lag can be determined only for prints that have nominal dates of publication, either aratamein "approval" seals, or otodoke "reported" stamps. In fact, some 66 (59 percent) of the 112 known TNS prints have seals. Number wise, this is a very good sample. Quality wise, we have to assume that prints with seals represent the entire series, and that the lag pattern for prints without seals would be the same as for those with seals.

Lag clarified on table of prints by seal date

Whereas the above table lists all 112 prints by the year and month of the issue number of their story source, the following table shows a list of the 66 prints with seals by the year and month of the seal date. The table also shows total and average lag for the prints associated with each seal.

Notice the sets of numbers in the column on the right. These are the lags in months calculated for each print which has a seal for the given month. The average lag for each month is computed by dividing the total of the lags for all the prints in the month by the total number of prints in the month (see example in table).

TNS lag time analysis Table 2
By year and month of seal date and lag in months
between newspaper issue date and seal date
Prints with seal dates Months of lag between prints and newspapers
Year Month Number Group
Lag for each print in group
n a=D/n D=sum d d1, d2 . . . dn-1, dn

Example of computation of average lag

A -- 1874-10x seals are found on nine Stage 1 prints.
B -- Lags for the 9 prints are 32, 32, 28, 11, 4, 4, 3, 3, 3 months.
C -- Total lag for the group is 120 months.
D -- Average lag for the group is 120 / 9 = 13.3 months.

Stage 1 TNS Nishikie Focus on past events
1874 8 2 16.5 33 22, 11
9 6 16.8 101 29, 29, 27, 13, 2, 1
10mx 9 13.4 121 32, 32, 28, 12, 4, 4, 3, 3x, 3x
Stage 2 TNS Nishikie Focus on current events
10x 10 6.5 65 19, 15, 13, 5, 5, 4, 0, 0, 0, 4
11 3 0.7 2 1, 1, 0
12 6 1.5 9 6, 1, 1, 1, 0, 0
1875 1 3 0.0 0 0, 0, 0
2 2 0.0 0 0, 0
3 4 1.0 4 2, 1, 1, 0
4 6 0.2 1 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0
8 4 2.5 10 3, 3, 2, 2
? 3 1875 prints with unclear seals (not included in totals)
Stage 3 TNS Nishikie Focus on current events
8 4 2.0 8 2, 2, 2, 2
Stage 4 TNS Nishikie Focus on civil disturbances
1876 11 1 1.0 1 1
12 2 1.0 2 1, 1
Totals for stages and periods of TNS prints with seal dates
Prints with seal dates Months of lag between prints and newspapers
Group Prints Group
Lag for each print in group
n a=D/n D=sum d d1, d2 . . . dn-1, dn
Totals by Stages
Stage 1 17 15.0 255 Includes all prints with seals
Stage 2 38 2.4 91 Excludes TNS-900, 913b, 917b
Stage 3 4 2.0 8 Includes all prints with seals
Stage 4 3 1.0 3 Excludes TNS-9005
Totals by Date (Seals or Otodoke)
Thru 1874-10 27 11.9 320 Stage 1 and 1874-10 Stage 2
From 1874-11 35 1.1 37 Most Stage 2, Stage 3, Stage 4
Totals for All Prints with Seals
All Prints 62 5.8 357


1. The data in this table was computed using Tonichi issue dates in Ono 1972 and the table of print particulars in Tsuchiya 2000 (Bunsei Shoin CD-ROM), and seal dates in the tables of particulars in Tsuchiya 1995 and 2000. I have confirmed this data as best I could while directly examining all TNS print scans on Tsuchiya 2000.

Based on my inspection of the scans, and prints Yosha Bunko and other collections, I have corrected a few apparent errors and discrepancies in the printed sources. However, some problems remain. Some of the seal dates have not been confirmed because the seals are not clear. Some dates remain unconfirmed because the seals are not on my lists.

I have examined the table of particulars in CCMA 2008 and found it to contain so many errors that I decided not to incorporate what could be clarifications of some of the unclear seals. Clarifying the few seals that remain unclear would not, in any case, have any significant effect on the lag-time or other compultations.

2. While one can search the CD-ROM to generate lists of prints with seals of a given date, a couple of prints have obviously been assigned the wrong date, and the identification of a few seals remains shaky. While Tsuchiya 2000 lists one print (TNS-917b) with a 1875 seal of uncertain month, I have treated two others (TNS-900 and TNS-913b) the same way. A number of other seal dates are tentative.

3. There are a total of 112 so-called Tokyo nichinichi shinbun news nishikie, excluding the TNS-0 flyer, and counting the two variations of TNS-851 and the two variations of TNS-9003 (CCMA 2008) as single prints. 66 prints (59 percent) are dated, 62 with aratamein "approval" seals and 4 with otodoke "reported" stamps. 46 (41 percent) have no such means by which to estimate when they might have been published.

4. Three 1875 Stage 2 prints (TNS-900, 913b, 917b) have been excluded because I am reluctant to assign a month even tentatively.

5. One nominally Stage 4 print (TNS-9005) has been excluded because the date of its story is not clear. The design of this print might also be grounds to exclude it from the list of true TNS nishikie.

See TNS two series, four stages for commentary on the periodization and stylistic stages of TNS prints.


What the tables tell us

The above tables tell us two things.

The first table tells us how much the TNS series depended on Takabatake Ransen (Tentendo Shujin) and also Okada Jisuke (Onkokudo Ryugin) for the writing of its stories, particularly after it enters Stage 2. Both men, and Yoshiiku, were members of the team that began producing Hiragana eiri shinbun from March 1875.

The second table, which is really a redistribution of the issue and seal date information in the first table, shows a very clear shift from past to current stories as the TNS nishikie project enters Stage 2. You can practically hear everyone talking about what stories to feature, and about other matters critical to the future of nishikie as a medium of current human interest stories.


Conversation circa October 1874

(First issue of Choya shinbun
published 24 September 1874)

We really should do more prints on the Taiwan Expedition.

We've been doing mostly older stories. Maybe we oughta be doing more current stuff.

I say we stop doing the old stuff altogether. Focus entirely on current events.

News instead of souvenirs?

Something like that, yeah.

Have you seen that new paper? Choya?

It's just another Tonichi or Hochi. There's a real need for a more vernacular, illustrated paper.

We ought to start one ourselves.

Maybe we should.


Conversation circa December 1874

(First issue of Yomiuri shinbun
published 2 November 1874)

Have you seen the new Yomiuri?

It's definitely more vernacular than the Tonichi, Hochi, or Choya. But it needs more illustrations.

Hey, why don't we put out an illustrated vernacular paper?

Instead of the nishikie?

Nishikie are simply too expensive as a medium for news. And they're losing their popularity even as souvenirs.

You read that article in the Choya? About people from the country taking home newspapers instead of prints?

You clairvoyant or something? That hasn't even been written yet. It won't come out until next March, and Miyatake won't cite it until the next century.

Next century? Miyatake? What are you talking about.

A couple of years after the Great Kanto Earthquake.

You been drinking or something?

Hiragana eiri shinbun.

Never heard of it.

Our new paper. We start next April.

You're serious!

We could even serialize some fiction.

That would be a first.

Another first.

Let's do it.

Bunmei kaika banzai!


Change of purpose

The second table clearly shows that, during the first three or four months of their one-year run, TNS prints were produced mainly as souvenirs that featured stories about past incidents of general interest. Though there was no shortage of more recent reports of such incidents, stories were taken from past issues of the paper -- as though it was not the purpose of the nishikie to deal with current events.

However, the number of recent stories increases, at the expense of past stories. There is then a spate of eight very topical prints about the Taiwan Expedition, which captures the interest of the entire nation. And from this point -- meaning the last two months of 1874 -- all prints feature very recent stories.

By March 1875, Ochiai Yoshiiku, Takabatake Ransen (Tentendo Shujin), and Okada Jisuke (Onkokudo Ryugin) -- having shifted the focus of the nishikie project from past to present -- have launched Hiragana eiri shinbun, a bi-daily illustrated paper.

Eiri is published by a subsidiary of Nipposha, which published the Tonichi paper from which the TNS prints had been taking its stories (see Cherubs and Banners under Related Articles). Yoshiiku is a Nipposha/Tonichi founder. Takabatake and Okada are both Nipposha/Tonichi writers.

The last seals on Stage 3 TNS prints are for August 1875 (September if 1875-8 is lunar). The last two stories are from early July issues of the newspaper.

So Yoshiiku, Takabatake, and Okada have entirely abandoned the TNS project by September 1875, when they begin putting out Eiri as a daily, renamed Tokyo hiragana eiri shinbun, with Takabatake as its editor.


Inspiration and motivation

The above analysis enables us to argue that the TNS prints were first regarded as "souvenirs" of past events more than as "news" of current events. Only as the series continued did its producers begin to favor and then prefer recent stories. And this experience must have helped inspire the Eiri.

Not much is known about the economics of nishikie publishing, except that woodblock prints cost a lot more than newspapers. They were also losing popularity to newspapers even as souvenirs (See review of Higuchi 1962).

Either Gusokuya wasn't making enough money -- or Yoshiiku, Takabatake, and Okada became too busy (or bored) to do more TNS prints. Whatever success the series might still have enjoyed under their names, apparently Gusokuya felt it would fail without them -- otherwise he would have found another team.

All Stage 4 TNS, which Gusokuya put out in November and December 1876, were drawn and written by others. They featured very recent riots and rebellions -- the hottest of news -- on the eve of the Seinan War, which raged most of 1877 and inspired hundreds of "souvenir news" prints of the battles, and of failed heroes like Saigo Takamori.


Eiri and Yomiuri

Yoshiiku had been aware of papers like The Illustrated London News since the early 1860s. Choya shinbun, which started publishing on 24 September 1874, like the Tonichi and Hochi, was a "large paper" (ooshinbun) that appealed more to educated and intellectual readers. Yomiuri shinbun was the first "small paper" (koshinbun), which carried vernacular features that appealed to a more general reader. It published its first issue on 2 November 1874 -- just two days after Japan and China signed the agreement resolving their standoff over Taiwan.

Despite its kawaraban roots, the Yomiuri did not begin as a truly illustrated paper. Only after the Eiri started attracting readers did the Yomiuri begin including more illustrations. By January 1876, Takabatake was working for the Yomiuri.

Yomiuri continued to be the leading vernacular paper. Eiri gave it a good chase in the circulation race until March 1889, when the Eiri ceased publication. Many papers experienced circulation drops and a number failed during a shake out of the news industry during the 1880s.