Bibliography of news nishikie related publications
 Introduction  General  Stories  Drawings  Topics

Exhibition publications Machida 1986 Waseda 1987-1988 Toyohashi to Itabashi 1988-1989 Kinoshita and Yoshimi 1999 Printing Museum 2000 (The East 2000) Hishikawa 2001 Newspark 2001-2002 Kagawa 2005 Itami 2006 Chiba 2008
Books and articles Asahi 1979 Hara 1990 Ono 1972 Rekishi to tabi 1980 Schreiber 2004a Schreiber 2004b Takahashi 1986 Takahashi 1987 Takahashi 1992a Toyo Daigaku 2003 Tsuchiya 1995 Umehara 1926 Umehara 1929 Wetherall and Schreiber 2006
Other media Kitahara et al 1999-2001 CD-ROM Tsuchiya 2000 CD-ROM

Catalogs, books, and flyers related to exhibitions related to news nishikie


1986 Machida Municipal Museum exhibition

Meiji newspapers in Hajima Collection

Exhibition catalog

Machida Shiritsu Hakubutsukan
[Machida Municipal Museum]
Meiji no shinbun ten (Hajima korekushon)
(Doji tenji: Meiji no kawarban)
[Meiji newspapers exhibition (Hajima collection)
(Also exhibited: Meiji kawaraban)]
Tokyo: Machida Shiritsu Hakubutsukan, 1986
103 pages, softcover

The exhibition, from 23 September through 19 October 1986, featured materials mostly from the collection of Hajima Tomoyuki (b1935), a well-known newspaper historian. The focus was on newspapers and kawawaban, not news nishikie. However, four small news nishikie are included in the eight color pages in the front. Black-and-white thumbs of about forty other news nishikie are paneled on five pages in a section on "nishikie newspapers" (nishikie newspapers). The catalog was low-budget, and many of its illustrations are barely legible. (WW)



1987 Waseda University Library exhibition

Newspapers, nishikie, and handbills in Nishigaki Bunko

Exhibition catalog

Waseda Daigaku Toshokan
[Waseda University Library]
Bakumatsu / Meiji no media ten: Shinbun, nishikie, hikifuda
(The media of the late Edo and Meiji periods: newspapers, color prints and handbills)
[Exhibition of media during the Bakumatsu and Meiji periods: Newspapers, nishikie, and handbills]
Tokyo: Waseda Daigaku Shuppanbu [Waseda University Press], 1987
113 pages, softcover

This is a catalog of items that appeared in an 1987-1988 exhibition at Waseda University Library. The items are from a collection called the Nishigaki Bunko, which is part of the library's Old and Rare Materials Collection, much of which is accesible on-line.

As the exhibition title suggests, the catalog presents a broad range of visual media that includes advertising and popular culture in addition to news. A chapter on news nishikie features about forty color and black-and-white images of Tokyo nichinichi shinbun, Yubin hochi shinbun, and other prints. (WW)


1988 exhibition catalog edition
1989 Itabashi Art Museum catalog
1989 Itabashi Art Museum flyer

1988-1989 circulating exhibition

Prints from Takahashi, Hajima, and other collections

Exhibition catalogs and flyers

This exhibition, called Shinbun nishikie ten [News nishikie exhibition], was unusual in scope and influence in that it brought together news nishikie from a number of private collections and circulated them among four museums in Aichi, Hyogo, Fukui, and Tokyo prefectures in 1988 and 1989.

1988-04-23 to 05-22
Toyohashi-shi Bijutsu Hakubutsukan
[Toyohashi Art Museum]

1988-08-06 to 09-04
Itami Shiritsu Bijutsukan
[Itami City Museum of Art]

1988-09-10 to 10-10
Sabae Shoko Kaigijo Bijutsukan
[Sabae CCI Museum]

1989-02-25 to 03-26
Itabashi Kuritsu Bijutuskan
[Itabashi Art Museum]

At least two editions of the exhibition catalog, with different titles and covers, were issued in 1988 and 1989. The following review is based on the 1989 Itabashi Art Museum edition, which does not include "ten" (exhibition) in its title but appears to have the same content its 1988 precursor.

Jaanarizumu shi kenkyu kai (Kenkyu dojin)
[Journalism history research association (Fellow researchers)]
Shinbun nishikie: Bunmei kaika no jikenbo
[Newspaper nishikie: Incident book of civilization and enlightenment]
Tokyo: Itabashi Kuritsu Bijutuskan
[Itabashi Ward Art Museum], 1989
128 pages, softcover

This is the best catalog of an exhibition dedicated to news nishikie. Many of nearly 183 prints, mostly Tokyo nichinichi shinbun (TNS) by Yoshiiku and Yubin hochi shinbun (YHS) by Yoshitoshi are shown in color. It features more YHS prints than any other catalog or book. The layout, text, and photography were done by Saruta Ryo and Kosokabe Hideyuki, and others in collaboration with Takahashi Katsuhiko, Hajima Tomoyuki, Asai Osamu, Yamana Sanzo, and Okada Zenji. (WW)



1999 Tokyo University exhibition

Kawaraban and news nishikie in Ono and other collections

Exhibition book

Kinoshita Naoyuki and Yoshimi Shun'ya
Nyuusu no tanjo
(Kawaraban to shinbun nishikie no joho sekai)
(Tokyo Daigaku korekushon 9)
[The birth of news (The information world of kawaraban and news nishikie) (Tokyo University collection 9)]
Tokyo: Sogo Kenkyu Hakubutsukan and Tokyo Daigaku Shuppan Kai [Tokyo Universiy Digital Museum and Tokyo University Press], 1999
311 pages, softcover

This publication is based on the first public exhibition of the Ono Hideo Collection, held in 1999 to mark the 50th year of Ono's founding of the Institute of Journalism and Communication Studies in 1949. The exhibition was jointly mounted at the University of Tokyo Museum by the museum and the Institute of Socio-Information and Communication Studies, as the original institute had been renamed.

The book (more than just a catalog) is the best overall introduction to the emergence of news media in Japan with a focus on late Edo and early Meiji drawer newsprints (kawaraban) and nishikie. There is a wealth of material here, all generally well-presented and nicely illustrated in black-and-white and color.

In the back are four one-page token English summaries that fail to do justice to the originals:

Ono Hideo and His Collection" (Yoshimi Shunya)
The Information World of Kawarban (Kitahara Itoko)
Nishikie Shinbun as Visual News Media (Tsuchiya Reiko)
News as Narrative (Sato Kenji)

The University of Tokyo Digital Museum maintains an easily navigated web version (see Nyuusu no tanjo). And the Institute of Socio-Information and Communication Studies has published the entire Ono Collection as a CD-ROM under the same title (see ). (WW)



2000 Printing Museum exhibition

The printing culture of the Edo period

Exhibition catalog


Printing Museum
Project exhibit [academic] supervisors: Kabayama Kōichi, Tanaka Yūko, Owada Tetsuo, et al.
Insatsu Hakubutsukan kaikan tokubetsu kikaku ten zuroku
[Printing Museum opening special project exhibit catalog]
Edo jidai no insatsu bunka: Ieyasu wa katsuji ningen datta!!
[The printing culture of the Edo period: Ieyasu was a moveable-type man!!]
<Printing in the Edo Period: Ieyasu, typographic man>
Tokyo: Printing Museum, October 2000
270 pages (206 text, 64 plates), softcover

The structural translations in [square brackets] are mine. The translations in <angle brackets> are as provided in the catalog.

The catalog represents a smaller special exhibition which ran in the Printing Museums's P&P Gallery from 7 October to 10 December 2000, hence a couple of weeks shorter than the main exhibit (see below).

For a review of an English article which purports to have been based on this exhibition, see The East 2000 in this section.

Tokugawa Ieyasu

Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川 家康 1542-1616) was the first shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty, which ruled during what is called either the Tokugawa period (politically) or the Edo period (geographically and culturally). Ieyasu was born the eldest son of Matsudaira Takechiyo, the lord of the Mikawa domain, now the eastern part of Aichi prefecture.

Early in his life, Takechiyo came under the strong influence of the Imagawa clan of Suruga province, now the northeast part of Shizuoka prefecture. The Imagawa clan also dominated the Tōtōmi (Tootoumi > Too-tsu-oumi) domain, between Mikawa and Suruga, now the western part of Shizuoka prefecture.

To keep a long and complicated story short, on his way becomeing Tokugawa Ieyasu, Takechiyo, from about the age of six, became a hostage of the Imagawa clan, which was deeply involved in the civil wars that raged throughout the country in the middle of the 16th century, took custody of the boy in return for coming to the defense of the Mikawa domain. By the time he had come of age and been allowed to return to Mikawa, Takechiyo had been thoroughly schooled in Suruga to fight for Mikawa as well as Imagawa causes that, in time, became his own -- from 1567 as Tokugawa Ieyasu.

The exhibition catalog

The 2000 Edo printing culture catalog has nine articles and 132 items are shown in color plates. An index to the items includes monochrome pictures.

The exhibited materials were intended to substantiate the claim that Ieyasu was a "moveable-type man". The catalog introduces "Fushimi-edition" publications printed with wood moveable type and "Suruga-edition" publications printed with copper moveable type. Both printing technologies were encouraged by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo (Tokugawa) period, who is known to have had a strong interest in printing.

Two introductory articles follow the table of contents. The other articles are grouped under three chapters.

Front matter


Supervising compiler's introduction
Kabayama Kōichi
[The puzzle of the "moveable-type man"]

Ogata Kōta
[Two elements which supported Ieyasu's publishing operations [ventures]

Chapter 1

[The bustle of the cultural city Edo]

Nakayama Kichiaki
[Carvers and printers of the Edo period]

Chapter 2

活字人間 家康
[Moveable-type man: Ieyasu]

Owada Tetsuo
[Ieyasu who was brought up in the midst of Imagawa [Suruga] culture]

Fujimoto Yukio
[The metal moveable-type culture of the Chōsen [Korean] court and its influence on Japan]

Momose Hiroshi
[The road to Suruga-edition copper moveable type]

Chapter 3

[100 views of Edo print media]

Tanaka Yōko
[The print media that produced commoner culture]

Back matter

展示資料解説 [資料解説参考文献]
英訳論文 [欧文解説]
[Explanation of displayed materials (p 201)
Related general chronology (pp 202-203)
Principle related sources (pp 204-205)
List of collaborators
English-translated articles]
Errata sheet


2000 Printing Museum exhibition

The Printing Museum, in Tokyo's Bunkyo ward, was founded in in 1987 as part of the research institute of the Toppan Printing Company, which was founded in 1900 by several technologists from the Printing Bureau of the Ministry of Finance. The museum celebrated both its opening to the public in 2000, and Toppan's centennial, with the following exhibition, which ran from 7 October to 28 December 2000.

Name of exhibition

The name of the exhibition included a number of titles and subtitles. Shown below are the Japanese titles, their romanization, my structural translation in [square backets], and the received English titles in <angle brackets>.

象形文字 遊行


Insatsu Hakubutsukan kaikan kinen
Moji shigen wo motomete
Shōkei moji / Yugyō

Awazu Kiyoshi ten

[ Printing Museum opening commemoration
Seeking the origins of graphs
Figure-graphs / A stroll

Awazu Kiyoshi exhibition ]

< Commemoration of the Museum Opening
Origins of Our Writing System: The Story of Hieroglyphics
Kiyoshi Awazu Exhibition >

Awazu Kiyoshi

The late Awazu Kiyoshi (1929-2009), a graphic designer, was the director of the Printing Museum at the time of the exhibition. The exhibition in his name is essentially inspired by his book, which was published with similar titles.

象形文字 遊行

Awazu Kiyoshi
Shōkei moji: Yugyō
(Moji shigen)
[Figure-graphs: a stroll
(The origin of [Chinese and Sino-Japanese] graphs [script]
<The Hieroglyphics of China, B.C. 2,500-800>
Tokyo: Tōkyō Shoseki, 2000
189 pages, hardcover



2000 Printing Museum exhibition

The printing culture of the Edo period

Review article

The Marriage of Pictures and Characters
(The visual culture of the masses in the Edo Period
The East
Volume 36, Number 4 (November/December 2000)
Pages 57-59

According to a statement at the end of this article, it was based on "the [Printing Museum's] inaugural exhibition." All five color images of historical printed matter in the article are credited to the museum.

For a review of the museum catalog for the "Edo printing culture" exhibition, see Printing Museum 2000 in this section.

Ends and odds

The "visual culture" theme of the subtitle was common among a number of somewhat earlier and concurrent Tokyo exhibitions of late-Edo and early-Meiji woodblock print culture. This is mostly an attempt to impose present-day fashions of cultural discription and analysis on earlier times in order to arouse people's interest in history.

The main title, however, is totally odd. As a general meteaphor, a marriage between "pictures" and "characters" does not make sense. A marriage of "pictures" with "text" or "stories" is more conceivable.

The article, though, echoes and then resonates with the following linguistic claim (pages 57-58, and page 59, underscoring mine).

[ From end of page 57 and beginning of page 58]

It is imagined that common people in those days might have read phonetic characters as if seeing pictures and might have seen pictures as if reading letters, as evidenced in the development of a typography of symbolic characters called Edo-moji (Edo lettering) and playful pictures called moji-e (character-like pictures). This period also saw the development of nishiki-e (colored woodblock prints, also called ukiyo-e), which tell us many things about this age; kyōga (nonsense pictures), which look puzzling; and gekiga (realistically illustrated comics). Characters are used as symbolic objects in these pictures, and it is fun to analyze the information hidden in them.

The visual culture of commoners may have served as the basis for the development of the light, carefree Edo culture, which emphasizes the informative aspect of visual arts, as if foreseeing the arrival of the visual age many years later. When we look at people's obliviousness to typography today, it is remarkable how greatly it interested people of that day.

[ Last paragraph of article on page 59 ]

The lettering culture of the commoners stresses the visual. Their letters -- such as daki-ji (combinations of two or three Chinese characters), yose-ji (mixing of three letters), surimoji or hige-moji (for festive occasions) -- are filled with vigor and playfulness. It was this vigorous and carefree spirit that prompted the rise in social status of the Edo townspeople.

Imaginary social history

Someone -- the article does not say -- has "imagined" a lot. Apparently some or all commoners "might have" or "may have" seen "letters" or "characters" (apparently there is no difference) as "pictures" -- and at times been puzzled by nonsense which turned out to have meaning.

By the end of the article, the "mights" and "mays" have vanished. The putative "lettering culture" is declared, by way of conclusion, to have stressed the "visual" -- which in turn inspired a "vigorous and carefree sprit" -- that in turn is boosted the social status of townspeople -- but where and how? In only the town of Edo? Or also in Osaka and other bustling centers of human activity? And how did anyone's status change merely by "seeing" meaning in "letters" or "characters"?

Apparently "commoners" are "the masses" -- meaning who? Farmers? Craftsmen? Merchants? Lowly members of the samurai caste? Entertainers and others who might have been legally classified as eta or hinin, but might still have participated in "Edo printing culture"?

Linguistic fallacies

What level of literacy is required to process any significant amount of text -- which, on most printed matter intended for wide commercial distribution, would consist of Chinese graphs called kanji and moraic script called kana? How far would any would be "reader" get with any such script without knowing the language -- without having learned the kanji and script in association with their linguistic attributes -- without, in other words, "hearing" the underlying language?

The article utterly fails to address the socioeconomic realities of Edo printing culture. In fact, the people who produced the sort of graphic materials the article cites as examples of "visual culture" were themselves products of a society that was full of humor and mischief, which could be very politically incorrect in the eyes of authorities.

The publishing market

The vast majority of printed matter, including woodblock pictures that only latter developed into what became known as nishikie, were commodities -- produced at a cost and sold for a profit in order to make a living. The publishers -- and the drawers, writers, carvers, printers, and others they commissioned or hired -- knew their wares would attract a readership -- because they had a finger on the pulse of the denizens they sought to entertain if not also inform and educate with their products.

Most of the genres of publications cited in the article appealed mainly to people who had acquired a taste for their peculiar features. They do not represent the mainstream printing culture, which was dominated by illustrated didactic texts and story books. Such reading matter was accessible only to those who were reasonably literate in vernacular writing, and who were motivated to read in a conventional way -- word by word, phrase by phrase.

The limits of "typography"

The article expresses surprise that during the Edo period people were more interested in "typography" than people today. How can this possibly be true -- since, contrary what the article implies, "typography" remained a very limited field until early in the Meiji period?

If "printing culture" encompasses all methods of printing, then "Edo printing culture" is not characterized by "typography". Despite the availability of different kinds of "moveable type" (活字 katsuji), when it came to the mass reproduction of vernacular texts, most Edo-period publishers rejected moveable type for the flexibility of hand-carved woodblock texts.

Woodblock-printed texts continued to dominate the publishing world in Japan until the importation and adaptation of metal type and related press technology during the first decade of the Meiji period. Some of earliest metal-type published newspapers and pamphlets continued to used woodblock technologies to print caligraphy on covers and illustrations embedded in the text. And some publishers of woodblock nishikie began using moveable type to produce the story text that accompanied a picture.

The idea that people today are somehow more "oblivious to typography" is nonsense -- given the premium that publishers of any text in any medium today place on typographic design. And their efforts do not go unappreciated by their readers.

News nishikie

The last illustration in the article is of a news nishikie identified as "Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun, No. 933." For a closer look at this print and its story, see Man murders ex-wife (TNS-933) in the TNS gallery section of this website.

The article under review makes the following statement about such prints (page 59).

From the late Edo Period to the early Meiji Era, shimbun-nishiki-e (newspaper woodblock prints) came to be published in large numbers. This was the peak of the trend of depicting actual incidents in a dramatic manner using vivid pictures and Kabuki-like exaggerated narration. This medium conveyed news to people as if telling a drama. Shown at the right is the Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun, in which the picture is framed with red ink to emphasize the bloddiness of the incident.

Practically every phrase in this statement is incorrect.

The newspaper called Tokyo nichinichi shinbun did not appear until early 1872. The series of nishikie prints based on stories taken from the newspaper did not debut until 1874, and was discontinued from the fall of 1875.

The nishikie prints were not newspapers, besides which "shinbun" meant "news" -- and, today, still means "news" when used in the titles of newspapers. They were produced and sold in the same manner as other woodblock souvenir prints, and hence were not published in especially large numbers.

The stories were in no way "Kabuki-like" or otherwise "exaggerated" but were written in an entertaining narrative style by seasoned writers of illustrated novels who had turned to journalism. All were based on actual newspaper reports. Some of the less inspired nishikie versions were phrased like the original reports, which were written as news reports.

The "red ink" of the "frame" was a common element in many series of early Meiji prints. The color had nothing to do with the "bloodiness" of the incident depicted in TNS-933. Most such prints were not stories about murder or other acts of violence, yet all had the same red border -- as did some non-news-related series produced by the same publisher, and many prints general souvenir prints put out by other publishers.

Striking red and purple were widely used during the early Meiji period as the new colors of progress. The borders of a rival series of news-related prints, based on stories from Yūbin hōchi shinbun, were a deep purple.

In other words, the story about news nishikie, much less the picture of TNS-933, had no place in an artcile about "visual culture" in the Edo period.


Front of Hishikawa exhibition flyer
Back of Hishikawa exhibition flyer

2001 Hishikawa Moronobu Memorial exhibition

Sixty news nishikie reporting Meiji incidents

Exhibition flyer

Hishikawa Moronobu Kinenkan
[Hishikawa Moronobu memorial museum]
Nishikie shinbun ten
[Nishikie news exhibition]
Meiji no omoshiro sanmen kiji
[Interesting third-page articles of Meiji]
Nishikie shinbun ni miru bikkuri jiken, omoshiroi jiken no kazukazu!!
[Numerous suprising incidents, and interesting incidents seen in nishikie news!!]
5 September to 9 December 2001

This exhibition showed sixty Tokyo, Osaka, and other news nishikie in the collection of the Hishikawa Moronobu Memorial [hall, center, museum] in Kyonan-machi in Chiba prefecture.

Moronobu (c1630-1694), an early Edo woodblock printmaker and painter, was one of the most important developers of ukiyoe and methods of mass printing color woodblock pictures. He was born and raised in the province of Awa, on the southern tip of present-day Chiba prefecture, hence the location of Hishikawa Moronobu Memorial in the town of Kyonan (Kyonan-machi) in the Awa district (Awa-gun) of Chiba.

Moronobu may have been surprised, not only by the subject matter of news nishikie, but by their bold designs and loud colors. His pictures were compartively subdued, with softer lines and quieter hues, and did not portrary "incidents" of the kind that became popular from the late Edo period -- though a number of the prints and book illustratations attributed to him are erotic.



2001 Japan Newspaper Museum exhibition

News nishikie from Newspark and other collections

Exhibition book

Nyuusupaaku (Nippon Shinbun Hakubustukan) (sponsors)
[Newspark (Japan Newspaper Museum)]
Yoshimi Shun'ya and Tsuchiya Reiko (supervisors)
Meiji no mediashi-tachi: Nishikie shinbun no sekai
[Media mongers of Meiji: The world of nishikie news]
Yokohama: Nippon Shinbun Hakubustukan, 2001
120, 23 pages, softcover

This is a guide to an exhibition held at the Japan Newspaper Museum in Yokohama from 5 October 2001 through 14 January 2002. The exhibition was organized by Newspark (the museum's trendier name) and supervised by Yoshimi Shun'ya (see above) and Tsuchiya Reiko (see below). Though the exhibition is over, the museum has a few nishikie papers in its permanent display. And the guide continues to be sold at the museum shop, which is just outside the museum.

The guide introduces its nishikie newspapers through the people produced them and inspired their stories. A 23-page appendix includes biographical information about Yoshiiku, Yoshitoshi, and other people in the nishikie newspaper world; an extensive bibliography; and a list of the museum's nishikie holdings with publication particulars.

This is easily the highest quality publication of all those reviewed here. It is truly comprehensive, informative, and enjoyable -- on a par with the best museum catalogs -- and it comes at a bargain price. (WW)



2005 Kagawa University Library exhibition

News nishikie in Kanbara Bunko

Exhibition flyer

Dai-juikkai Kagawa Daigaku Fuzoku Toshokan Ippan Kokai Gyoji
[11th Kagawa University Library general public event]
Kanbara Bunko shiryo ten
[Exhibition of materials in Kanbara Bunko]
Meiji shoki, chimata no jiken wa do tsutaerareta ka:
shinbun nishikie ni miru sejo
[How was [news about] incidents in society spread in early Meiji?: Worldly affairs seen in news nishikie]
Kagawa University Library, third floor
Kanbara Bunko exhibition room
30 October to 6 November 2005

This exhibition showed fifty Tokyo, Osaka, and other news nishikie in the Kanbara Bunko (see elsewhere in this Bibliography), which is part of Kagawa University Library. The nishikie were captioned with titles from Tsuchiya 2000 (Bunsei Shoin CD-ROM). All are also viewable on-line, as are many other nishikie and other items in Kanbara Bunko.


Front cover with plastic title wrapper
Front cover without title wrapper
showing right half of right sheet of
Osaka nichinichi shinbun 9001 diptych

2006 Itami City Museum of Art exhibition

Osaka news nishikie from Osaka Castle Museum

Exhibition catalog

Itami Shiritsu Bijutsukan (editor)
[Itami City Museum of Art]
Tsuchiya Reiko (supervising editor)
Meiji Osaka no nishikie shinbun
(Taishu jaanarizumu no kaika)
[Meiji Osaka nishikie news
(The flowering of popular journalism)]
Itami-shi (Hyogo): Itami Shiritsu Bijutsukan, 2006
32 pages, plastic and softcover

Among the many exhibitions of news nishikie that have mounted at various museums in Japan, most have either focused on, or exclusively featured, Tokyo prints. This exhibition, held from 3 November through 17 December 2006, was exceptional in its focus on Osaka news nishikie.

The catalog has black-and-white thumbnails of 209 prints, typically nine to a page. All but a few of the prints, at very beginning and end, were published in Osaka.

Explanatory text

Below each of the images is an exhibition number followed by a very short phrase summarizing the nature of the story on the print. This information is in bold face.

Below the number and summary line are three lines in plain face showing (1) the title of the series and the number of the print in the series, (2) the drawer of the picture, and (3) the orientation and size of the print, plus the name of the contributor.

The vast majority of the Osaka prints were contributed by Osakajō Tenshukaku (Osaka Castle Museum), which is credited as a special collaborator.

Some variations are shown -- but oddly. Because the prints are shown in order of their number within the name of their series, images of a few prints with "shinbun" suppressed from their title (bracketed as [新聞]) appear immediately after the images of the unsuppressed print. However, this ordering criteria means that identical prints with different titles are not shown together.

The only accompanying texts are a short greeting by the head of the Itami City Museum of Art, and a two page introduction by Tsuchiya Reiko.

At the end of the introduction is a list of four references: Tsuchiya 1995 (her book on Osaka news nishikie), Tsuchiya 2000 (Bunsei Shoin CD-ROM), Kinoshita and Yoshimi 1999 (Birth of News), and Newspark 2001 (Japan Newspaper Museum publication on news nishikie and the people who produced them).

ONS-9001 diptych

Included among the Osaka prints in this catalog is a full scan of the unusual horizontal chuhan diptych, the first sheet of which was used for the cover wraps. See Osaka theaters in Soga battle for a color image and details.


Chiba City Museum of Art flyer
Chiba City Museum of Art catalog

2008 Chiba City Museum of Art exhibition

176 news nishikie from Rikken Collection

Exhibition flyer

Yoshitoshi / Yoshiiku no nishikie shinbun:
Tōkyō nichinichi shinbun / Yūbin hōchi shinbun zen sakuhin

[The nishikie news of Yoshitoshi and Yoshiiku:
All works of Tokyo daily news and Yubin dispatch news]
Chiba-shi Bijutsukan
Chiba City Museum of Art
12 January to 2 March 2008

Exhibition book

Chiba-shi Bijutsu Kan (Hen)
[Chiba City Museum of Art (Editor)]
Bunmei kaika no nishikie shinbun
(Tōkyō nichinichi shinbun / Yūbin hōchi shinbun zen sakuhin)
[Nishikie news of civilization and enlightenment
(All works of Tokyo daily news / Yubin dispatch news)]
Tokyo: Kokusho Kankō Kai, 2008
208 pages (including colophon), softcover, jacket

The exhibition mounted the Tokyo nichinichi shinbun (TNS) and Yubun hochi shinbun (YHS) news nishikie in the Rikken Collection. Several prints not in this collection were borrowed from Waseda University, University of Tokyo, National Diet Library, and Chiba University. A few prints were shown as color copies, and one triptych was shown as a black-and-white copy.

I went to the exhibition on 16 January 2008, a Wednesday. On that day, four prints (TNS-851o, YHS-507, YHS-1044, and YHS-9001 -- my nomenclature) were shown as color copies. One (TNS-9004) was shown as a black-and-white copy.

Facsimilies of the source articles were shown for six prints.

Ansei bridge triptychs

Two triptychs (TNS-9003o and TNS-9003r) received special attention, as they narrated a truly unusual story. The original print shows a fight between police and ruffians on Ansei bridge in Tokyo (TNS-9003o). The same or another publisher later replaced the text in the story cartouche which described the action as a skirmish between rebel and government forces at a bridge by the same name in Kumamoto (TNS-9003r).

The original print, borrowed from the University of Tokyo, is well known. The doctored print may be one of a kind, existing today only the Rikken Collection, according to its owner, who told me he bought the print at a certain ukiyoe shop in Kanda.

Neatly penned at the bottom of the center sheet of the print is a French title -- "PREMIÈR ATTAQUE Sur Le PONT de KOUMA-MOTO" -- meaning "Major attack at the Bridge of Kumamoto".

A cataloger at the print shop was unable to say more about the print except to confirm that it was part of a lot the shop had bought in Europe. She said it was a bit unusual to write a title directly on a print but the practice was not unknown. She said there was no way of knowing who wrote the title, or when or where it was written. It did, however, appear to have been written some time ago.

Descriptive titles

I attended the exhibit during its first week. The prints were mounted without descriptive titles. Beside each print was a tag with the name of the series, the issue number, the name of the loaning institution if not from the Rikken Collection, and other such particulars -- but no titles.

The owner of the collector called me the following week to inform me that this had caused a huge problem, as some vistors complained about the lack to titles. The museum staff was forced to burn some midnight oil to make descriptive titles. But the prints now had titles.

This explained why there were no titles in the book -- neither on the pages showing the images and texts, nor in the table of information at the back. The people responsible for mountaing the exhibition -- the complilers of Chiba 2008 -- had never thought of -- or had thought of but nixed the idea of -- descriptive titles.

To be continued.

This book is an editorial disaster -- an example of what happens when state-of-the-art printing technology is put in the hands of experts who lose sight of the most important goals of such publications: ease of use and accuracy.

Though formally not a catalog, this book was produced and released in conjunction with an exhibition called Yoshitoshi / Yoshiiku no nishikie shinbun: Tōkyō nichinichi shinbun / Yūbin hōchi shinbun zen sakuhin [The nishikie news of Yoshitoshi and Yoshiiku: All works of Tokyo daily news and Yubin dispatch news] -- which ran at the Chiba City Museum of Art from 12 January to 2 March 2008.

See Bunmei kaika no nishikie shinbun for a complete examination of the editorial scars that mar this book's superficial beauty.


Books and articles related to news nishikie
Kidan, chindan, kodan
Volume 1, Meiji hen, 1979
Kidan, chindan, kodan
Volume 2, Taisho/Showa hen, 1979

Asahi Shinbun Sha (compiler)
Kidan, chindan, kodan
[Amazing stories, unusual stories, and gossipy stories]
Tokyo: Asahi Shinbun Sha, 1979
Volume 1: Meiji hen (310 pages)
Volume 2: Taisho/Showa hen (310 pages)
Two softcover volumes consisting of Volume 5 and Volume 6 of Asahi shinbun 100-nen no kiji ni miru [Seen in 100 years of articles in Asahi Shinbun]

These two volumes, part of a series celebrating the 100th anniverasy of Asahi shinbun, include a very conservative selection of about four-hundred articles, the earliest from Meiji 12 (1879). The series had ten volumes, including the two under reivew.

 1. Love and marriage
 2. Exploration and adventure
 3. Tokyo at age 100
 4. Traces of foreigners
 5. Odd stories (1 Meiji)
 6. Odd stories (2 Taisho, Showa)
 7. Sports features
 8. Famous scoops
 9. Obituaries (Meiji, Taisho 1)
10. Obituaries (Showa 2)

Among the first stories in the Meiji volume is one about a young couple who were unable to exchange "intimate words" because the woman's mother kept a nighlty vigil on her daughter and adopted son-in-law from an adjacent room. The illustration, reproduced from the original report, shows the jealous mother poking her head through the cracked fusuma as the couple pretend not to be doing anything. (Meiji 12, pages 6-7, 8 June 1879)

The Meiji volume, like the Meiji era, closes with suicide of General Nogi following the demise of Emperor Meiji. One article eulogizes Nogi (15 September 1912). Another reports a succession of four "mock Nogi" [ese Nogi] suicides that appear to signify a "following-in-death contagion" [junshi ryuko] (18 September 1912). (Meiji 45, page 308)



Hara Hidenari
Shinbun nishikie to nishikie shinbun:
Sono shuppan jokyo to kozo no henko

[News nishikie and nishikie news:
Changes in their conditions of publication and structure
In: Kindai Nihon Kenkyukai (editors)
Nenpo / Kindai Nihon kenkyu
Volume 12 -- Kindai Nihon to joho
[Early-modern Japan and information]
Tokyo: Yamakawa Shuppansha, 1990 (323 pages)
Pages 68-92




Ono Hideo
Shinbun nishikie
[News/paper nishikie]
Tokyo: Mainichi Shinbun Sha, 1972
181 pages, 6-page-index, hardcover in slipcase and box

This large (B4) bible of news nishikie has 121 high-quality full-page reproductions of prints from four series: 82 prints from Tokyo nichinichi shinbun (TNS) drawn by Ochiai Yoshiiku, 22 prints from Yubin hochi shinbun (YHS) drawn by Taiso Yoshitoshi, 4 prints from Kakushu Shinbun Zukai no Uchi (KSZU) drawn by Sensai Eitaku, and 13 prints from Kinsei Jinbutsu Shi / Yamato Shinbun Fuzoku (KJS) drawn by Yoshitoshi. Only TNS and YHS are full-fledged news nishikie. KSZU retells older rather than recent stories. KJS was a newspaper supplement that featured profiles of personalities who had figured in contemporary but mostly not very recent incidents.

Collected in the back of the book are full transcriptions of the texts on the nishikie prints, the dates of the newspapers in which the stories retold on the prints first appeared, and sometimes the original or related stories and other commentary.

The book begins with brief overviews of the origins of the four series represented in the collection, with information about what is known (and, as importantly, what is not known) about the writers and others who produced the prints.

The volume was published by Mainichi Shinbun in 1972, the newspaper's 100th anniversary, a reckoning which starts from the first issue of Tokyo nichinichi shinbun in 1872. TNS was bought by Osaka mainichi shinbun in 1911, and both papers were commonly renamed Mainichi shinbun in 1943. Ono began his collection of news nishikie while employed by TNS, before he became a scholar and pioneered the study of the history of journalism in Japan. (WW)



Rekishi to tabi
[History and travel]
Tokushu: Bakumatsu ishin no josei shi
[Feature: History of women in the bakumatsu and restoration]
Bakumatsu ishin shiriizu 2
[Bakumatsu and restoration series 2]
Tokyo: Akita Shoten, January 1980
Volume 7, Number 1, Issue 74
pp 11-177

This issue of Rekishi to tabi is the second in a series dedicated to social history in the late Edo and early Meiji period. Of interest to students of news nishikie are two gravure features concerning women involved in crimes and other incidents that attracted the attention of reporters, story tellers, and drawers.

Rekishi to tabi
Bakumatsu jiken shi no onnatachi
[Women in the history of bakumatsu incidents:
Pages 19-27

This article introduces eight woodblock prints featuring women involved in bakumatsu incidents, including three prints from Yoshitoshi's Kinsei jinbutsu shi series.

Hajima Tomoyuki
Shinbun nishikie ni miru Meiji no onna jikenbo
[Incident book of Meiji women as seen in newspaper nishikie]
Pages 28-33

This article introduces five Tokyo nichinichi shinbun nishikie (Numbers 512, 592, 687, 754, 984), three Shinbun jijitsu nishikie (Numbers 1, 3, 7), and four Osaka news nishikie, featuring women who became objects of stories about homicide, suicide, filial piety, or spousal loyalty and the like in the early Meiji period.



Mark Schreiber
When tabloids were art
(Colorful nishikie news sheets
kept Meiji-era readers
informed and entertained)
In: Number 1 Shimbun
[Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan]
May 2004 (Volume 36, Number 5)
Pages 10-11

This is possibly the first feature article in English dedicated to news nishikie. It was seriously flawed, as the author had not yet done any research on such prints, confused them with newspapers, and ahistorically regarded them as art.

See When tabloids were art for a version of this article revised for use on this website. While an improvement over the original article, the revised version still contains a number of statements not supported by evidence.

For a more accurate overview of news nishikie, see "News nishikie: An arranged marriage that didn't last". (WW)



Mark Schreiber
Just Picture That!
(Using the techniques of ukiyo-e woodblock artisans, but drawn for a Japan in the flux of the 1870s, news nishiki-e were 'an amazing marriage of journalism and art' whose themes reflect many of 'the interests and concerns of ordinary people')
In: The Japan Times
19 September 2004
Page 7

News nishikie have definitely arrived when they make the front page of The Japan Times in the 21st century, as did the picture with the Meiji tabloids blurb to the right. This is not, however, a first.

The 30 September 1874 issue of The Far East, a photo-illustrated newspaper published in Yokohama by the Scottish British Australian journalist John Black Reddie, is said to have carried the first news report in English about the Tokyo nichinichi shinbun nishikie series (Tsuchiya 2002:105). The article in question, entitled "Art in Japan", introduced TNS-512, the Tonichi nishikie which shows and tells how Kurako defended her father Amano against robbers (Tsuchiya in Kinoshita and Yoshimi 1999:104, n5; see also Meech-Pekark 1986:216, 242 n16).

Never mind that practically every claim in the blurb is wrong. By the time readers have turned to page 7, perused Schreiber's finely-tuned story, and studied the (unfortunately) black-and-white illustrations of four prints, they will have realized that (1) Meiji-era writers and drawers were not "freed by the end of the shogunate" because they were never captives, (2) they were less "inspired by western tabloids" than by their own arguably longer and more developed and interesting graphic and narrative traditions, and (3) the artistic stories they created were not "revolutionary" but merely further experiments of the sort they had been freely conducting for the better part of a decade.

An updated version of this article will eventually be posted on this site. In the meantime, a full-color web version of the original article continues to be viewable as Just picture that!. (WW)


Cover of 1st (1986) edition
Cover of 2nd (1992) edition
[ 1st-3rd (1992) printings ]
Cover of 2nd (1992) edition
[ 4th (2001) printing ]
First edition (Takahashi 1986)

Takahashi Katsuhiko
Shinbun nishikie no sekai
(Takahashi Katsuhiko korekushon yori)
[The world of news nishikie
(From the Takahashi Katsuhiho collection)]
[PHP Graphics 4]
Tokyo: PHP Kenkyujo, 1986
112 pages, softcover

Second edition (Takahashi 1992a)

Takahashi Katsuhiko
Shinbun nishikie no sekai
[The world of news nishikie]
Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 1992
(Kadokawa Bunko) [Kadokawa Pocketbook]
181 pages, softcover

The second (pocketbook) edition is an entirely redesigned version of the first edition. It is by far the most available and least expensive of the very few books ever published on news nishikie. The paper and printing quality is high, and like most pocket books in Japan the signatures are sewn. However, serious students of news nishikie will also want the first (larger) edition.

Whereas Ono Hideo's large-format book (see Ono 1972) shows a number of Tokyo news nishikie by Yoshitoshi and Eitaku while focusing on Yoshiiku's Tokyo nichinichi shinbun nishikie, Takahashi's books show over sixty Tonichi prints organized in themes beginning with "Murder" and ending with "People / History" and all but excludes Yoshitoshi and Eitaku prints. In contrast also with Tsuchiya Reiko's study of Osaka news nishikie (see Tsuchiya 1995), Takahashi's books feature more color images and less explanatory text, and are physically much better made.

The first edition (Takahashi 1986) contains important articles that were dropped from the pocketbook edition (Takahashi 1992). The pocketbook edition, though, is better designed for viewing, reading, and quick reference.

Images and stories

Physically, the pocketbook features the same news nishikie as the earlier edition. Whereas it shows all news nishikie as full-page color images on smaller pages, the earlier edition presents about half of the prints as full page or double-page color images, and the other half as quarter-page images shown two to a page, some in color, others in black-and-white. Though the pages of the pocketbook are less than half the size of the pages of the first edition, the images are so sharp that the calligraphy on the prints is clear enough to read.

In the pocketbook edition, on the page facing the image of each print, is a transcription of the story engraved on the print and a brief commentary on the story. In the first edition, the stories and commentary of the prints shown two on a page appear beside the image, whereas the texts for full-page or double-page prints are gathered together on other pages, where they appear beside thumbnail images of the prints.

Explanatory articles

Shinbun nishikie no sekai is essentially Takahashi's shrine to Yoshiiku. It features mostly Tokyo nichinichi shinbun nishikie, drawn by Yoshiiku, who Takahashi calls the "principal character" of his presentation. Rather than give his own rundown on Yoshiiku's life, Takahashi included, in the back of the first edition (pp 106-109), a biographical essay called "Ochiai Yoshiiku" by Higuchi Futaba, which appeared in a literary monthly in 1926 (see Higuchi 1926). This article, though, was dropped from the pocketbook without supplementing Takahashi's own remarks about Yoshiiku, and so the pocketbook has conspicuously little information about Yoshiiku.

Another feature appended to the first edition is a diagram showing the lineal (master/disciple) relationships between selected late Edo / early Meiji drawers and their descendants among present-day drawer and manga drawers (pp 110-111). The diagram is illustrated with the works of the drawers. For the pocketbook, half of this diagram, sans the images, was integrated into into the article on ukiyoe and girl's manga (see below).

Also in the first edition (pp 58-64), but missing from the pocketbook, is a long talk between Takahashi and Sugiura Hinako about the attractions of news nishikie. Sugiura (b1958) was a student of Edo-life documenter and novelist Inagaki Shisei (1912-1996), also read Inagaki Fumio, the pen name of Inagaki Kazuki, aka Inagaki Hidetada. An Edo-period researcher and publicist in her own right, Sugiura is also a manga drawer who has created a number of Edo-period graphic novels that reflect ukiyoe styles.

Besides the general introduction to news nishikie, the following three supplementary articles appear in both editions.

"Shinbun nishikie to watakushi"
[Newspaper nishikie and myself]

"Goshippu bunka to ukiyoe"
Taishu wa goshippu o yorokobu
'Fookasu' 'Furaidee' magai no puraibashii no shingai
["Gossip culture and ukiyoe"
The masses enjoy gossip
'Focus' and 'Friday' esque invasions of privacy]

"Gendai ni ikizuku ukiyoe"
Shojo manga ni ukiyoe o miru
["Ukiyoe breathing in the present
Looking at ukiyoe in girls' comics

All three articles are more profusely illustrated in the first edition than in the pocketbook. The second and third articles, like the discussion with Sugiura, emphasize the continuity of Edo and Meiji life in present-day mass media and manga. (WW)

Takahashi Katsuhiko

Takahashi Katsuhiko (b1947) is the most prolific and successful promoter of interest in news nishikie. He had been an employee at an art museum, written a guide to the appreciation of ukiyoe, and taught early modern Japanese (Edo) literature at a college before becoming a mystery writer. His debut story, Sharaku satsujin jiken [The case of the Sharaku murders], won the Edogawa Ranpo Prize in 1983. He has also won the Yoshikawa Eiji Prize (1986), the Japan Mystery Writers Association Prize (1987), and the Naoki Prize (1992). His mysteries have involved ukiyoe masters like Sharaku, Harunobu, Hiroshige, Hokusai, and Utamaro, but also European artists like Van Gogh.

Takahashi has drawn material for his historical mysteries from stories on drawer prints, including news nishikie (see Ukiyoe misuterii zoon, Takahashi 1991). More recently (Shosetsu Subaru, June 5, pp 364-369), he has incorporated the world of news nishikie, and the gruesome homicide depicted in TNS-933, into an story that will eventually be anthologized as an episode in Volume 4 of his popular Kanshiro hirome tebikae [Kanshiro information notes] historical mystery weries .

See Kanshiro hirome tebikae: Takahashi Katsuhiko's Heisei gesaku serial for an overview of the series and more biographical information about its author.

It is clear from his approach to news nishikie that Takahashi, like Ono and Tsuchiya, is at least as interested in their stories, as forms of reportage and gossip about human behavior, as in their visual elements. His views are therefore closer to those of students of journalism, sociology, and anthropology than to those of art historians, who tend be more concerned with the purely aesthetic aspects of drawer prints. (WW)



[Takahashi Katsuhiko]
Kore zo Meiji shoki no "ukiyoe jaanarizumu"
("Satsujin, kidan, fuzoku" atsumeru Ranposho sakka no "igi")
[This is "ukiyoe journalism" of early Meiji
(The "significance" of an Edogawa Ranpo Prize recipient author who collects "murder, anecdotes, and customs")]
In: Friday
3 April 1987 (Volume 4, Number 13, Issue 122)
Pages 50-51

The image to right is of the first page of this two-page article on the art historian and mystery writer Takahashi Katsuhiko, who is shown sitting in his study surrounded by part of his collection of mostly Tokyo nichinichi shinbun prints. Takahashi is the best-known and most widely published illuminator of such news nishikie.

It is worth noting that the article appears in the sort of weekly magazine that Takahashi argues were preceded by news nishikie in the historical development of tabloidesque photojournalism. Collectors who prefer only the more "refined" and "tasteful" prints usually associated with "Japanese beauty" will probably view Takahashi's interests in the comparatively vulgar news nishikie as culturally scandolous. (WW)


Yosha Bunko

Toyo Daigaku Fuzoku Toshokan
[Toyo University Library]
The Shinbun: Wagakuni sosoki no shinbun
[The newspaper: Newspapers of our country's pioneering period]
Toyo Daigaku Toshokan Nyuusu -- Kosumosu
[Toyo University Library News -- Kozmoz]
7 January 2003 (Winter 2003, No. 140)
Pages 1-5, including cover

The main feature of this 8-page newsletter, showing Kobayashi Kiyochika's drawer print of the pioneering journalist Fukuchi Gen'ichiro on its cover, is a colorful introduction to the beginnings of newspapers in Japan. The materials used to illustrate the feature are from the university's library.

How to enjoy news nishikie

An article on news nishikie shows a large picture of Tokyo nichinichi shinbun No. 111. A sidebar by the library staff on "How to enjoy news nishikie" asks two questions:

(1) Who drew the picture?
(2) Who wrote the article?

The sidebar directs the reader's attention to the signature in the lower right corner of No. 111, which reads Ochiai Yoshiiku -- a ukiyoe drawer also known as (Utagawa) Yoshiiku and Ikkeisai. In the lower left corner is a signature reading Tentendo Shujin -- an early Meiji gesaku writer whose real name was Takabatake Ransen.

A caption explains that No. 111 depicts sumo wresters who have come upon a big fire, and lacking water they pitch in to help demolish the burning structure. The telegraph pole and wires, the reader is told, symbolize the "civilization and enlightenment" of the Meiji Restoration. (WW)

The newsletter can be viewed and downloaded as a PDF file from the following link, which will open up in a new window.

Toyo University Library Newsletter Kozmoz No. 140



Tsuchiya Reiko
Osaka no nishikie shinbun
[Nishikie news in Osaka]
Tokyo: Sangensha, 1995
16, 231, xxiv pages, soft cover

This is easily the bible of nishikie news studies, indispensable to any serious student of the subject. Though the book covers and features some Tokyo nishikie papers, it focuses on papers from Osaka.

The first third of the main body of the book is divided into chapters on various aspects of nishiki newspapers as a form of visual media in early Meiji Japan. The rest of the main body is devoted to chapters on Osaka nishikie papers, organized by theme, from "Spousal Fights" to the "Seinan War" of 1877 that rocked the new nation and fed its growing news media with so much breath-bating drama.

There are sixteen color plates at the front of the book, and the main text is sparsely illustrated with black-and-white pictures, a few full-page, of nishikie papers. An appendix lists editions of nishikie papers with publication particulars. The book ends with a short index and a brief (one-and-one-half page) English overview.

This book deserves to be re-issued, but in a higher quality binding that does justice to the heft of its pages, subject matter, and price. Count yourself lucky, though, if you have a chance to buy a copy of this most authoritative tome on nishikie newspapers. (WW)


Meiji seiteki chinbun shi
Volume 1 (Yosha Bunko)

Umehara Hokumei (1901-1946), editor
Meiji seiteki chinbun shi
[History of unusual sexual stories from Meiji]
Tokyo: Bungei Shiryo Kenkyu Kai, 1926-1927
Two volumes, Jo (128 pages) and Chu (124 pages)

Volume 1 [Jo]

Folded leaves stitched between soft covers [Wabon]
128 pages -- 1 frontispiece, 4 plates, 2 editor's preface, 3 contents, 1 disclaimer, 117 main text
Preface date -- Early August 1926
Colophon -- 250 copies gifted to seniors, acquaintances, and friends [senpai, chiki, shin'yu]; Printed 25 August 1926; Published 1 September 1926
Contents -- 103 articles from Keio 4-4-14 [6 May 1868] to Meiji 9-9-5 [5 September 1876]
Illustrations -- 39 illustrations: 1 lithograph (frontispiece), 4 photographic plates (front), 34 (12 full-page) news nishikie (integrated with text)

To be continued.

Meiji seiteki chinbun shi
Volume 2 (Yosha Bunko)

Volume 2 [Chu]

Soft covers, stitch bound [Wabon]
124 pages -- 2 editor's preface, 2 contents, 120 main text
Preface date -- 1 December 1926
Colophon -- 250 copies gifted to seniors, acquaintances, and friends [senpai, chiki, shin'yu]; Presented and distributed [sotei hanpu] First Day [Gantan] January 1927
Contents -- 92 articles from Meiji 8-1-3 [3 January 1875) to Meiji 16-3-26 [26 March 1883].
Illustrations -- 32 illustrations integrated with text: 25 (21 full-page) news nishikie, 7 woodcuts from illustrated newspapers

To be continued.

Kaamashasutora, No 1, 1927
This copy is missing white title strip
Kaamashasutora, No 1, 1927
Title page
Kaamashasutora, No 1, 1927
"Part 1" of Vol 3 of MSCS

Volume 3 [Ge]

Umehara Hokumei (editor)
"(Gekan) Meiji seiteki shinbutsu shi (Sono ichi"
[(Volume 3) History of unusual sexual stories from Meiji (Part 1)]
Kaamashasutora [Kamashastra]
Number 1, pages 153-168

This journal was published in Shanghai.
Its colophon discloses this information.

Printed and published 30 October 1927
November issue (volume 3, number 10)
Editor (Eikokujin [British person]:
  Sir Frederick Jones [?]
Issuer and printer (Chuka Minkoku jin [ROC person]):
  Chang Menching [Zhang Menqing]
Publisher: Sosaiti do Kaamashasutora [Societe De Kama-Shastra / ]

A third volume of Meiji seiteki chinbun shi (MSCS) was planned but never published. However, part of what Umehara apparently intended to include in volume three appeared in the first issue of Kamashastra, a magazine he helped publish in Shanghai. The article ran 16 pages and consisted of eleven newspaper articles.


This first issue of the journal Kamashastra was published on 30 October 1927 in 172 pages. The last of several subsequent issues appeared in April 1928.

To be continued.

Mark Driscoll on Umehara's activities in Shanghai

Mark Driscoll, a student of , is one of very few scholars outside Japan who has taken interest in Umehara's activities.

The following papers were presented at the 1999 Annual Meeting of the Association of Asian Studies (AAS), held in Boston on 11-14 March 1999, in Session 166, under the theme "Capital Offenses: Erotics and Desire in Twentieth-Century Japan".

Seen and Unseen: The American Diary of Noguchi Yone (Karen Kelsky)

Erotic Transnationalism/Grotesque Imperialism (Mark Driscoll)

Against Proper (Feminist) Subjects: Or Questions of Pleasure and Feminist Reading Practices (Yukiko Hanawa)

"The Fifth Look": Western Audiences and Japanese Animation (Susan J. Napier)

Neo-Orientalism: Writing a Geisha's Memoirs as a White Western Man) Anne Allison

The web version of the abstract of Driscoll's article is worth reading in its entirely, as it helps place Umehara and Sakai Kiyoshi, one of his better known collaborators, in the larger picture of late-Taisho early-showa erotica in Japan and also China.

Erotic Transnationalism/Grotesque Imperialism

Mark Driscoll, University of Michigan

The historiographic protocols of modernization theory have hegemonized the readings of Japan's imperialism, insisting on a one-way movement of modern power and civilization that initiated in the "West," arrived "late" to Japan, and later still, to Japan's colonies and imperial periphery. Post-colonial theory's insistence on reading the effectivity of the periphery on the metropolitan center, and Deleuze and Guattari's notion of "mutant, decoded flux" of desire flowing back and forth between center and periphery, critically interrogate the uni-directional historicism grounding modernization theory. My paper will examine three of the central figures associated with the so-called "erotic-grotesque-nonsense," arguably the most popular modernist form in Japan from 1925-1935. I argue that the erotic-grotesque-nonsense can be fully genealogized only through the Japanese imperial periphery. Looking first at the case of Tanaka Kogai, one of the most influential sexologists in Japan in the 1920s and the representative erotic-grotesque-nonsense sexologist and metapsychologist, I argue that his tenure from 1896-1904 as the governor-general's chief psychiatrist in Taipei, Taiwan significantly influenced his popular sexology and erotic-grotesque-nonsense texts written later in metropolitan Tokyo and Osaka. Therefore, while reading some of his writings as a colonial psychiatrist, I will look briefly at his metropolitan best-seller called Sex Maniacs (1925). Similarly, I will consider the ero-guro writers, translators (Arabian Nights, Decameron, Sade's Juliette) and editors Umehara Kokumei and Sakai Kiyoshi, who published the influential erotic-grotesque-nonsense monthly Grotesque (1928-1930), as well as its precursor Kamashastra (1927-1928). I will analyze the implications of the fact that Umehara and Sakai published the first erotic-grotesque-nonsense monthly in Shanghai where they moved in 1926, vowing to "bring the ero-guro revolution to China."

Driscoll, now on the faculty of the Department of Asian Studies at the University of North Carolina, continues to show considerable interest in Taisho/Showa erotica. His contribution to the 2005 AAS Annual Meeting (Chicago, 31 March - 3 April) was entiteld "Hentai = Modernity" and treated "the articulations of a surprisingly "liberal" rendering of hentai (perversion) in Japanese sexology, psychoanalysis and the mass culture discourse of the ero-guro-nonsense in Japan in the Taisho and early Showa periods" (Session 108: Perversion and Modern Japan: Experiments in Psychoanalysis).

Driscoll's translation and evaluation of
two novellas by Yuasa Katsuei
Driscoll's translation of two Yuasa novellas

Driscoll, who specializes in Japanese media and cultural studies, and colonialism and postcolonialism in East Asia, recently published the following book, which closely relates to these topics.

Yuasa Katsuei
Kannani and Document of Flames:
Two Japanese Colonial Novels

(Translated and with an introduction and critical afterword by Mark Driscoll)
Durham: Duke University Press, 2005
xi, 193 pages, softcover

The back cover of this important contribution to studies of the period when Korea was under Japanese rule describes Yuasa as follows.

Born in Japan in 1910 and raised in Korea, Yuasa was an eyewitness to the ravages of the Japanese occupation. In both of the novels presented here, he is clearly critical of Japanese imperialism. Kannani (1934) stands alone within Japanese literature in its graphic depictions of the racism and poverty endured by the colonized Koreans. Document of Flames (1935) brings issues of class and gender into sharp focus. It tells the story of Tokiko, a divorced woman displaced from her Japanese home who finds herself forced to work as a prostitute in Korea to support herself and her child. Tokiko eventually becomes a landowner and oppressor of the Koreans she lives amongst, a transformation suggesting that the struggle against oppression often ends up replicating the structure of domination.

Erochika, No. 34, April 1972
Featuring extracts from MSCS
Erochika, No. 35, May 1972
Featuring extracts from MSCS


Meiji seiteki chinbun shi has gotten very little attention other than in writing about sexology or sexual censorship. Numbers 34 (April 1972) and 35 (May 1972) of Erochika [Erotica], a sexology journal published by Misaki Shobo, has extracts from Volumes 1 and 2.

To be continued.

Hozonban Erochika, No. 42, January 1973
Entire issue about life of Umehara Hokumei
Umehara Hokumei (1901-1946)
Frontispiece of Hozonban Erochika 42
Erochika occasionally dedicated an entire edition to a single subject. These issues were numbered in sequence with the regular issues but were called Hozonban -- meaning "preservation edition" -- a cliche for special issues of periodicals that are designed to be kept as reference books.

Censorship studies

Umehara Hokumei (1901-1946) was one of the more industrious sexologists of his time -- the "ero/guro" era of the 1920s, spanning the late Taisho and early Showa periods. He was a member of a very small but active society of collectors, translators, and publishers most people in Japan today have never heard of.

Many people would be puzzled, if not outright embarrassed, by the sort of content they would find in Umehara's journals, such as Kaamashasutora [Kamashastra] and Gurotesuku [Grotesque]. Like his compendia of unusual news stories, he distributed limited editions of such publications to interested parties directly, so as not to arouse the censorial lusts of the police and other guardians of imperial morality.

In the review of the Taisho reproduction of Kinsei kyogi den (see Articles), we saw that, by the Taisho period, the graphic violence so commonly found in late Tokugawa and early Meiji woodblock prints was regarded as something shocking. The sexual frankness of woodblock prints, popular novels, performing arts, religious practices, and even some newspaper and magazine fare during the same periods, was likewise not as readily acceptable by the Taisho period and Showa periods.

In one of the prefaces to Meiji seiteki chinbun shi, and in remarks on the colophons, Umehara makes it clear that he is very aware of the risk he was running in publishing a compendium that focused on sex and contained reproductions of graphic images that then, as now, would generally be regarded as pornographic.

To be continued.

Shared discoveries

What makes research truly pleasurable -- despite it being ninety percent sheer grind with little to show at the end of the day -- is the discovery of something that had always been there. What makes it truely rewarding is to share the thrills with those who made it possible.

Does a book exist if no one knows about it?

The main limitation of archival research is that there are simply too many publications, in too many archives, to possibly sift through them all. The main risk of depending on bibliographies and lists of references compiled by other researchers is that many books and articles of possible interest never come into their nets, or they toss back those they consider unimportant.

I have spent some of the best days in my life sitting on the floors in stacks at one or another library, just thumbing through books and journals, searching for something of possible interest -- something I would not know exists until it flashes before my eyes and compells me to take a closer look. It is not that a volume collecting dust does not exist if no one takes it off the shelf and opens it. It is just that its existence has no meaning for someone in whose brain its title and contents have yet to gain entry and recognition.

Eyes and ears of others

Archival research is mostly -- and probably best -- done alone. Libraries are full of people so engrossed in their quest they are barely aware of others. Yet there is nothing more valuable to a lone reseacher than sympathetic colleagues, and even friends of friends, who have some inkling, however vague, about the object of one's obsession.

That we are able to introduce Umehara's work on this website is due entirely to the alertness of Ofer Shagan, a collector of all things beautiful. Shagan knew Mark Schreiber, knew that Mark was interested in news nishikie, and had seen this website.

One day in May 2006, Shagan spotted Volume 1 of the work under review up on Yahoo! Auction. He picked it up for Mark, sent him an image of the cover and another showing the book open to pages which happened to include pictures of two news nishikie, one of which Mark recognized. He promptly called to tell me about the find and forwarded the images to me.

I took the mystery surrounding the identification of the volume from there. Within minutes I had found fragments of information about its publication and contents. I also found the two-volume set pictured and described here, offered by an antiquarian book dealer.

Cracker Jack

We had no idea what the volumes actually contained. The title, and other information I'd found on-line, suggested they were compendia of Meiji newspaper stories of a sexual nature. Yet waiting for them to arrive was every bit as thrilling as digging into a Cracker Jack box, not knowing what sort of toy you're going to pull out.

When I saw that each volume had about 100 stories from newspapers, and about 30 news nishikie with transcriptions of their stories, I knew we had stumbled onto something important in terms of how Umehara used news nishikie, along with newspapers, to reveal the social history of the Meiji period.

Ono, Takahashi, Tsuchiya

Ono in 1972, Takahashi in 1986, and Tsuchiya in 1995 did not mention this compilation or its sequel, Meiji/Taisho kidan chinbun taishusei, which also features news from nishikie alongside news from papers (see review below). Were they not aware of Umehara's work? Or did Ono, Takahashi, and Tsuchiya simply not think his work important?

Tsuchiya calls Meiji no nishikie shinbun [Meiji nishikie news], a 1930 work by Miyatake Gaikotsu (1867-1955), "still today the most detailed catalog of the entire body of nishikie news" (Tsuchiya 1995:16, 2000). Miyatake, pushing 60, wrote about "Tokyo omiyage to shite no shinbunshi" [Newspapers as Tokyo souvenirs" in 1925, the year before Umehara, in nearing his mid-20s, published Meiji seiteki chinbun shi. And the year after Umehara's volumes came out, Miyatake published "Nishikie shinbun no ryuko: Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto" [Popularity of nishikie news: Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto].

But whereas Miyatake and Ono Hideo (1885-1977) were both, in the 1920s, writing articles about news nishikie and wondering what to call them as a genre, Umehara spoke of neither "nishikie shinbun" (Miyatake's term, favored by Tsuchiya) or "shinbun nishikie" (Ono's term, at least for those published in Tokyo), but only of "nishikie" (but using "ga" to represent "e"). Whereas Miyatake was a seasoned and already very famous man of Meiji, and Uno was already collecting kawaraban and news nishikie and laying a foundation for studies of journalism in Japan, Umehara was interested only in gathering and collating unusual news stories as raw material of Meiji and Taisho social history. And very unlike Miyatake and Ono, Umehara showed no particular interest in the history of newspaper journalism and woodblock prints.

Still, the extent to which Umehara integrated news from nishikie, into his compilations of news from papers, would seem to deserve at least honorable mention in an overview of Taisho and early Showa retrospectives on Meiji news media.

Sexual reflections

The lithograph at the front of Meiji seiteki chinbun shi aptly reflects the scope of the compilation. The title given in the table of contents is "Dankon nagashi" [Flow of penises]. It shows an oval mirror in which penises are bobbing in a river, while on the banks a murder is in progress, and a policeman is chasing someone, possibly a rapist. The mirror is surrounded by flames and the frame is burning. Glaring over the upper right part of the mirror, from its back, is Konsei Daimyojin, also known as Konseijin, the god of the phalluses and male sexuality.

Konseijin was once worshipped all over Japan at shrines that displayed phallic and ktenic icons of stone or wood. Phallo-ktenic worship is now limited to a few shrines still famous for their festivals. The most spectacular are those in which young women parade a huge phallus, hewn from a log, through crowds of tourists armed with cameras and camcorders. Most such icons disappeared as a result of movements to suppress such public displays of sexuality.

The caption of the lithograph begins with a citation from an article that appeared in the 44th issue of Tokyo nichinichi shinbun, published on 14 April 1872 (Meiji 5-4-8). In the course of describing the picture, the article remarks that recently geisha [geigi] at Ryogoku Yanagihashi, and others, have been enshrining Konsei Daimyojin on god-shelves.

To be continued.

Stories and texts

The two volumes of Meiji seiteki chinbun shi contain a total of about 250 stories, roughly 190 from newspapers and 60 from nishikie. The newspaper stories are presented in order of their date of publication. The nishikie stories are interspered with the newspaper stories.

All the nishikie stories are transcribed in the captions that are associated with the nishikie. The captions also give the name and number of the nishikie. The transcriptions are generally accurate, but Umehara does not reproduce the furigana readings, and sometimes he has changes the okurigana and kanji. For all practical purposes, though, he has simply copied the text on the print.

The great variety of stories imply that, in Umehara's parlance, "sexual" applied to practically every aspect of human relations between the sexes, from infidelity and jealousy, to murder and suicide when provoked by sexual betrayal. But he is also interested in all the ways in which men and women find or leave each other.

"Sashimi murder-suicide", Osaka nichinichi shinbun Meiji 8, 1875
Meiji seiteki chinbutsu shi, Vol 1, p 5
Sashimi murder-suicide

A jealous woman serves her husband his lover's pubes as sashimi before killing herself. What the picture leaves to the imagination is more shocking than what it shows.

The caption contains only Umehara's transcription of the story as written on the print. It is fairly accurate, though he omitted the furigana, and occassionaly look liberties with the okurigana.

It is not clear whether Umehara knew, as some news nishikie researchers today contend, that this print was censored at the time it was published. Click on the image to the right for the full story.

"Three generations marry", Yubin hochi shimbun, No. 650, 1875
Meiji seiteki chinbutsu shi, Vol 1, p 108
Three generations marry

A widower covets the wife of a poorer man who had remarried. He offers to buy her, and accepts the other man's condition -- that he also take the woman's elderly father and her daughter by her first husband. The widower accepts because he now has a bride for himself, a bride for his coming-of-age son, and a groom for his widowed mother.

This story is clearly "unusual". But it also helps delimit the parameters of "sexual" in Umehara's understanding of the term.

"Cop chases naked thief", Nishikiga hyakuji shinbun, No. 94, 1876
Meiji seiteki chinbutsu shi, Vol 2, p 3
Cop chases naked thief

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This has got to be the most completely naked women ever to grace a woodblock print. The policeman's stuffy uniform, and the woman's utterly stichless skin, are truly spectacular contrasts in color. The cherubs seem to be cheering her on. She could well be their mother.

The pigment used to color the woman's (and the cherubs') skin is a shade or two pinker that the latterday crayon called "Flesh" in the United States. This label has become politically incorrect in multicolor America but survives as "Hadairo" [skincolor] in polychrome Japan.

This print is prima facie evidence that the "yellow" peril is a comorbid condition consisting of paranoid delusions and color discrimination disorder. The policeman, too, is undoubtedly suffering all manner of hallucinations.

Tokyo eiri shinbun illustrations, Nos. 749 (right) and 758 (left), 1877
Meiji seiteki chinbutsu shi, Vol 2, pp 30-31

Newspaper illustrations

Umehara reproduced a few of the illustrations that appeared in some of the newspaper stories. Such illustrations increased with the start of Tokyo hiragana eiri shinbun [Tokyo hirigana illustrated news] in 1875, shortly before the demise of news nishikie.

The right page of the scan to the right shows the end of a two page story that appeared in the 13 December 1877 (No. 749) edition of Tokyo eiri shinbun [Tokyo illustrated news] as the paper by then was called. Umehara calls the story "Kirisuzume worn by both husband and wife" -- as shown in the picture, in which the woman, who is older, bigger and stronger, is chasing the man and grabs him by the his hair.

Summer and winter, they both wore the cheap, thin, nearly sleeveless garmets called "kirisuzume" as they spent all their money and time drinking and fighting, day and night. Everywhere they went they made a general nusiance of themselves and frequently got in trouble. The story ends with the husband paying a 10-sen fine to get his wife out of jail.

This particular story was one of the 19 stories from Volume 2 selected for facsimile reproduction in Erochika No. 35 (May 1971, pages 16-17; see commentary above).


M/T kidan chinbun taishusei
Volume 1 (Yosha Bunko)

Umehara Hokumei (1901-1946), editor
Meiji/Taisho kidan chinbun taishusei
Meiji/Taisho Compendium of amazing stories and unusual news]
Tokyo: Bungei Shijo Sha, 1929
Jo (587 pages), Chu (138 pages)

Volume 1 [Jo]

Blue leather boards with gilted titles
Gilted top and side edges
Lithographed color nishikie endpapers show scenes of late Edo, early Meiji life


Preface -- 2 pages, dated New Years 1929
Table of Contents -- 14 pages (Main, Addendum)
Frontispiece -- 1 page color lithograph protected by a leaf of tracing paper
Plates -- 22 pages glossy b&w photographs
Other illustrations -- A few drawings in text
Text -- Main 388 pages, Addendum [hoi] 160 pages
Paper --All pages except frontispiece and plates are printed on parchment-like paper with watermarks reading "Bungei Shijo Sha han" [Bungei Shijo Sha publication]
Colophon -- Printed 1 January 1929, Published 5 February 1929, Price 6 yen 50 sen, First printing 300 copies


All plates consist of one black-and-white image of a woodblock print, printed on one side of a leaf of glossy paper. Of the 22 plates, 17 are photographs of news nishikie.

The first 11 plates are interspersed every eight leaves. The first plate comes between the frontispiece and page 1, the second between pages 16 and 17, the third between pages 32 and 33, and so forth, the last between pages 160 and 161. Ten plates (all but the first) show one news nishikie with a caption transcribing its story.

The other 11 plates are collected at the end, between the Addendum and the colophon. The last seven show one Tokyo nichinichi shinbun nishikie each with no caption.

To be continued.

M/T kidan chinbun taishusei
Volume 2 (Yosha Bunko)

Volume 2 (Chu)

Black cloth boards with gilted titles
Gilted top and side edges
Lithographed color nishikie endpapers front and back
All pages except frontispiece and plates are printed on parchment-like paper with watermarks reading "Bungei Shijo Sha han" [Bungei Shijo Sha publication]


Preface -- None
Table of Contents -- 6 pages
Illustrations -- None
Text -- 132 pages
Paper --All pages except frontispiece and plates are printed on parchment-like paper with watermarks reading "Bungei Shijo Sha han" [Bungei Shijo Sha publication]
Colophon -- Printed 1 May 1929, Published 5 May 1929, Price not given, Second printing 300 copies

To be continued.

Volume 3 [Ge]

Commentary forthcoming.

Prints on endpapers

The same prints decorate the endpapers of both of the above volumes. The choice of prints reflects Umehara's selection of stories, which span the whole spectrum of human behavior.

Picture of the New Shimabara Pleasure Quarters in Teppozu in Tokyo

The front endpapers show the middle and left panels of a triptych entitled Tokyo Teppozu Shin Shimabara Yuk[w]aku no zu or "Drawing of the New Shimabara Pleasure Quarters in Teppozu in Tokyo". This woodblock print, drawn by Ichiyusai Kuniteru (c1830-1874), was published in 1869, a year after the facility was built.

"Teppozu" is the common name for the part of present-day Chuo-ku nearest the mouth of the Sumida river. It is situated on the west bank of the river and faces Tsukudajima and Ishikawajima islands.

Teppozu [firearm district] got its name from the fact that, during the Edo period, the area was used for cannon practice by clans holding the Tokugawa government post of Teppokata, which authorized them to manufacture firearms and train government soldiers in their use. Part of the area was also called "Insatsuyagai" [printshop town] because many publishing and printing businesses and workshops were located there.

The New Shimabara Pleasure Quarters was finished in 1868 to provide a controlled place of entertainment for foreigners living in the adjacent Tsukiji Foreign Settlement, which was also opened that year. "Shimabara" was taken from the name of the largest pleasure quarters in Kyoto.

The new entertainment district had some 130 establishments and 1,700 pleasure girls. However, the venture flopped. Not many foreigners in Yokohama had reason to move to Tsukiji, much less frequent New Shimabara, which was closed in 1872. The following year a fire destroyed a number of hotels in the Ginza/Tsukiji area, and train service between Shinbashi and Yokohama began, further convincing foreigners, who could do most of their business in Yokohama, that there was little point in moving to Tokyo. Many of the establishments and denizens of the New Shimabara moved to New Yoshiwara. [Most of this summary was paraphrased from the history of Tsukiji Kyoryuchi (Tsukiji Foreign Settlement) on the Sampomichi Research Center website.]

Fifty [government regulatory] articles in pictures

The back endpapers show a significant part of a triptych called Etoki Gojugo-jo or "Fifty [government regulatory] articles in pictures". The print was drawn by Kikugoe and published by Itosho around the beginning of the Meiji period (seal not yet read).

The print humorously illustrates and comments on fifty regulatory notices [ofure] issued by the government to control various aspects of early Meiji life, from eating beef to socializing with foreigners.

To be continued.

Stories and texts

Commentary forthcoming.

"Priest kills woman", Tokyo nichinichi shinbun, No. 1
Newspaper story 29 March 1872, nishikie story October 1874
Meiji/Taisho kidan chinbun taishusei, Volume 1
Unpaginated plate between pages 16-17
Priest kills woman

Commentary forthcoming.

"Widow kills son and self", Tokyo nichinichi shinbun, No. 687
Newspaper story 10 May 1874, nishikie story circa 1874
Meiji/Taisho kidan chinbun taishusei, Volume 1
Unpaginated plate in back
Widow kills son and self

Commentary forthcoming.

Lemon sirup and outlaw money
Details forthcoming
Lemon sirup and outlaw money

Commentary forthcoming.

Blasts of the past

Umehara's collection of unusual news reports from the Meiji and Taisho periods is very convenient today as a source of stories on diverse themes of interest to social historians. In making his collection so large, and in limiting its distribution, Umehara obviously didn't intend it for mass consumption. In fact, the market for Meiji and Taisho nostalgia was inunndated by several smaller and more readily available publications.

One very popular book was Miyatake Gaikotsu's Meiji kibun (see review elsewhere in this Bibliography). The articles on which this book were based came out in 1925 and 1926, and most likely Umehara was aware them. Miyatake had already gained a reputation as a commentator on the more unusual aspects of the human condition.

In the late 20th century, newspaper publishers have used their centennial anniversaries as opportunities to sell nostalgia in the form of multi-volume retrospectives of life in Japan as it has survived in their archives. Most such publications have focused on photographs and other graphic material. Fewer, like Kidan, chindan, kodan (Asahi 1979), have featured mostly articles.


Cover of Andon, Number 80, 2006

William Wetherall and Mark Schreiber
"News nishikie: An arranged marriage that didn't last"
Number 80, June 2006
Pages 5-24

This article introduces six prints through translations of their stories, with commentary on the texts and incidents. The article begins with an overview of news nishikie as a short-lived genre of souvenir prints representing a commercial marriage of convenience between nishikie woodblock prints and newspapers.

News nishikie were briefly popular as novelties in an era of novelty. However, their value as commodities quickly dropped as newspapers spread and incorporated illustrations of the kind long familiar to readers of woodblock-printed books and even some late-Edo newspapers.

The authors view news nishikie as objects to be understood from the standpoint of those who produced and consumed them -- rather than in terms of "visual news media" theory, which has more to do with present-day academic fashions than with contemporary society. (WW)

See "News nishikie: An arranged marriage that didn't last" for a web-version of the entire article.


CD-ROMs and other electronic media related to news nishikie

1999 trial edition
2000 commercial release

Tokyo Daigaku Shakai Joho Kenkyujo
[Institute of Socio-Information and Communication Studies]
Kitahara Itoko and Yoshimi Shun'ya (compilers)
Nyuusu no tanjo
(Ono Hideo korekushon)
(Kawaraban / shinbun nishikie deeta beesu)
[The birth of news (Ono Hideo collection) (Kawaraban and newspaper nishikie database)]
Tokyo: Voyager, 1999 (trial release)
Tokyo: Voyager, 2000 (first release)
Tokyo: Transart, 2001 (second release)
Hybrid CD-ROM for Windows and Macintosh

The cover of the case shows an English title (The Birth of the News / Visual Media in 19th-Century Japan) but nothing else is in English. Instructions explain how to launch the presentation. Items can be selected from a number of prepared topical lists, or from lists generated by keyword searches. Individual items are presented as a thumbnail image beside a database template that displays information about the item, including commentary on the item and transcriptions of stories printed on the item. Clicking the thumbnail displays a medium size image. Another click will display the full image in a PDF file.

The medium and larger images, and some of the information associated with the items, including the transcriptions, can also be viewed on the Ono Collection database posted on the web (see Ono Hideo Collection). (WW)



Tsuchiya Reiko (compiler, annotator)
Nihon nishikie shinbun shusei
<Nihon Nisikie Sinbun Syusei>
[A collection of nishikie news in Japan]
<A collection of illustrated ukiyoe newspapers as visual news media in early Meiji Japan>
Tokyo: Bunsei Shoin, 2000
Hybrid CD-ROM for Windows and Macintosh

This is the most comprehensive offering of news nishikie images available in any medium. High-resolution images of over 800 prints from a number of museum and private collections. Information on the prints -- including bibliographic data, story transcriptions, and background commentary -- is organized in an almost fully searchable database.

Acrobat Reader

The CD-ROM is operated through an Adobe Acrobat Reader plug-in that is installed by a simple set-up procedure, and all material is presented through the mediacy of Acrobat Reader. All image and text files can be printed through Acrobat Reader. Text files on the CD-ROM can be opened and captured in a text editor. However, images are embedded in password-protected PDF files to prevent capturing. One work around is to capture the screen (including offscreen portions) and then crop out the image.

The CD-ROM includes images all of the Tokyo nichinichi shinbun (TNS) and Yubin hochi shinbun (YHS), and other news nishikie, that are listed in tables appended to Tsuchiya's Osaka no nishikie shinbun. A majority of the TNS images are attributed to prints in the Araya Bunko (Mainichi Shinbun). All other TNS images are attributed to the Nishigaki Bunko (Waseda University). No TNS images are of prints in the Ono Collection (Tokyo University). YHS images are attributed to many sources, but again not the Ono Collection. Other news nishikie reference materials also suggest that there are several fairly large collections of TNS prints but fewer large collections of YHS prints.


All the TNS and YHS scans have a blurb at the top in Japanese, Romaji, and English. As the following examples show, the romaji is kunreishiki, and some of the English is barely understandable.

Tokyo nichinichi shinbun (No. 697)
Hunakazi wo nogareta hunako wani ni nomareru
A sailor was escaped from a ship in fire, but he swollen by a crocodile.

Yubin hochi shinbun (No. 449a)
Tosima de ikebana no ume ga mi wo musubu
A plum tree in a verse as flower arrangement came into bearing in Tosima.

Osaka nichinichi shinbun (Unnumbered)
Sitto no tuma aizin no inmon wo sasimi ni
A jealous wife killed her husband's lover and cut her vagina out to offer him as Sasimi.

Database records

While a given image file is being displayed, clicking an icon on the task bar will open a window that displays the database record associated with the image. Clicking a field will display the content of the field in the window. The fields include two choices of transcription, and the drawer, writer, publisher, date, and a "memo" field that is almost always empty.


The default field displayed in the database window is a transcription of the text on the print, including (in parentheses) all furigana (rubi) readings. One can also choose a version of the transcription without the rubi. The records of many prints also include a transcription of the original story. All these texts can be displayed, and printed, horizontally (default) or vertically.

Text files of stories and original articles

Text (filename.txt) files of the transcriptions are in the "chushaku" folder on the CD-ROM. The files in the "yomi" sub-folder are the full transcriptions of the stories with rubi and are the ones that should be used when translating. The files in the "yomi2" sub-folder do not include the furigana readings, which are crucial to understanding intended pronunciations and even meanings. Transcriptions of original articles, when available, are in the "sansho" folder.

Bitmap files of seals, signatures, and other particulars

There are thousands of bitmap (filename.bmp) files in the "thumbs_b" directory on the CD-ROM. There are individual files the date seals or date stamps, drawer signatures and seals, publisher information, and other particulars, for each print. These files are vieweable while examining images and associated database records. But like the text files, they can also be opened, or copied, directly from the CD-ROM.

Overview article

In the overview article, names of drawers, writers and publishers for which information is available in the database are hot linked to database records that feature more information. Cliking "Gusokuya", for example, will take you to more information about this publisher than is generally available on the Internet or other news nishikie sources.

Tables of prints

The table of prints is more exhaustive than any found elsewhere. Unlike the tables in the back of Tsuchiya 1995, the tables on the CD-ROM include seal dates and also the dates of the original stories when available (as they are for most TNS and YHS prints). The tables are divided by place of publication, and Tokyo prints come first.

Navigation and searching

While the navigation is a bit unfriendly, this CD-ROM is a very valuable resource. Records can be searched by clicking preselected keywords on topical menus, and there are numerous such menus in Japanese and English. Records can also be fairly freely searched by Boolean queries.

Accuracy and reliability

Tsuchiya is named as responsible for "compilation" (henshu) and "commentary" (kaisetsu). However, the content of the database was developed and vetted by over a dozen others. And it appears that no one sat down and crosschecked every detail with a mean and merciless eye for errors of commission and omission. As a result, there are enough discrepancies that careful researchers will want to use any information on this disk without crosschecking with the original. Still, this CD-ROM database is a remarkable achievement, and Tsuchiya deserves every bit of the recognition she has received for its production. (WW)

Further information in Japanese
Further information in English