Yosha Bunko

Chōya shinbun
No. 1353b
Meiji 11-3-18 (1878-3-18) (otodoke)
Families see off insurgents

Story in brief

The caption cartouche reads "Bōto no saishi)" (暴徒の妻子) or "wives and children of insurgents". According to the story on the print, on the 16th day of the 2nd month of Meiji 10 [1877], fathers and mothers and wives and children have gathered at a pier in Kagoshima to see off the Kwankō-maru (貫効くわんこう丸 Kankō-maru), aboard which were 78 men who had been arrested for "offenses concerning state matters" (kokujihan 国事犯). The offenders were the students from a private school, according to the story's lead, in the later third of the 1st month, had plundered some government ammunition (dan'yaku 弾薬 shot and powder) to strengthen the forces then gathering around Saigō Takamori (西郷隆盛 1828-1877). Before describing the scene on the print, the story remarks that the ensuing war ended with Sagō's death on the 24th day of the 9th month. (WW)

Saigō Takamori

Saigō had been one of the more colorful figures in the civil wars that resulted in the Meiji Restoration in 1868. He then became one of the influential and controversial members of the Meiji government during its first few years. In 1873, however, he quit his government post when others in the government rejected his proposal to use military force to chastise Chōsen. He returned to his home province, in Kagoshima, with a few others in the government who had agreed with him, and began a school that attracted young men who shared his dissatisfaction over the manner in which the samurai class had lost its status and role in the political order.

In the eyes of the government, Saigō and his supporters were rebels. But in the eyes of their families, some other local people, and even some of the people who had rejected his stance on Chōsen, he was hero of the kind that frequents the pages of history, not only in Japan but elsewhere -- a hero who fails to achieve what could be construed as a moral objective.


Kwanko Maru

Kwanko Maru, the name of the ship, reflects the "w-glide" that differentiated "ka/ga" and "kwa/gwa" Sino-Japanese terms. Today, "kwa/gwa" terms are generally pronounced and written "ka/ga" but present-day kana orthography still accommodates w-glides, and w-glides continue to characterize the romanizations of a few words and organizational names.

Of interest here is whether the name of the ship was "Kwanko Maru" at the time of the incident, or whether the story writer is using the name of the ship that may have been given the name later that year.

According to Nagasawa Fumio's Natsukashii Nihon no kisen (なつかしい日本の汽船) <Nostalgic Japanese Steamships, Fumio Nagasawa>, the Kwanko Maru, with a displacement of 185 gross tons, was built in London in 1869 and sold to Tsushima province in 1870, at which point it was known as the Sakana. The following year it was transferred to the Japanese government, then in April 1877 -- during the Seinan War -- it was sold to the Mitsubishi Mail Steamship Company, after which it was renamed Kwanko Maru. The vessel was struck from the register of ships in 1918, nearly half a century after it was built. It spent the last two decades of its life under the ownership of a series of owners based in Hakodate.

Nagasawa's data base shows the following history.

Nagasawa Nagasawa Fumio's "Natsukashii Nihon no kisen" (なつかしい日本の汽船) (Nostalgic Japanese Steamships, Fumio Nagasawa) shows the following history of the Kwanko Maru, according to which the ship was built as the "Sakana" in London in 1869, renamed "Kwanko Maru" sometime after it was sold to the Mitsubishi Steamship Company in April 1977, and struck from the register of ships in 1918.

貫効丸 KWANKO MARU (1869)
496/HDGJ 185G/T 進水 1869(明2)
Lpp 41.70 B 6.25 D 5.12 m 66/150PS 9.5kt
Henderson Coublorn & Co.,Renfrew建造 E. M. De Bussche,London
1877.4(明10)郵便汽船三菱(東京)に売却後、貫効丸 KWANKO MARU と改名(時期不詳)

Other lists classify the ship as "kihan" (機帆) or "mechanized (motorized) sail" boat, as it is depicted on Toshinobu's Chōya shinbun print.



As his name suggests, the drawer, Toshinobu (年信 1857-1886), was a student of Yoshitoshi (芳年). As noted in the publishing particulars shown in the lower right margin, was legally Yamazaki Tokusaburō (山崎徳三郎).

Toshinobu was 13 when he began to study under Yoshitoshi and 20 or 21 in 1878 when he drew the prints in the Chōya shinbun nishikie series. The Seinan War, which took place the year before, inspired numerous prints, including about 30 by Toshinobu. depicting scenes from the war.

At the time, Toshinobu was also working as an illustrator for Chōya shinbun, the name sake of the nishikie series. The prints were numbered according to the issues of the papers from which their stories were adopted, but they came out several months later, and in random order, and were probably independently published as souvenirs.

Though regarded as one of Yoshitoshi's most promising students, from about 1880 Toshinobu and Yoshitoshi had a falling out, partly over Toshinobu's drinking and carousing. Attempts by a third party to mend the relationship ultimately failed, as Toshinobu continued to be unstable. He reportedly even walked off with some of Yoshitoshi's manga sketches, and apparently a wanted notice was published in a newspaper under Yoshitoshi's name.

Toshinobu was only 28 or 29 when he died of pneumonia and meningitis in 1886.

Print information

Series: Chōya shinbun
Number: 1353b
Date: Meiji 11-3-18 (1878-3-18) (otodoke)
Publisher: Hayashi Kichizō (林吉蔵)
Drawer: Yamazaki Toshinobu (Yamazaki Tokusaburō)
Carver: Unstated
Writer: Unstated
Size: Oban
Image: Yosha Bunko

Principal sources