Series: Osaka nichinichi shinbun
Number: 9003
Story date: a1875-03
Story source: not given
Publisher: Kawaden
Drawer: Shigehiro
Writer: Ryuo
Size: horizontal chuban diptych
Image: Tsuchiya 2000 (Bunsei Shoin)
Osaka nichinichi shinbun
Kado Naka shibai ōgassen no zu (1875-3)
Wago Soga Homare no Fuji

ONS-9003 diptych

Practically all Osaka news nishikie were published as chūban, which were half the size of the oōban prints that were favored in Tokyo. This print represents a horizonal diptych of two oōban prints placed end to end.

The Osaka nichinichi shinbun series was published by Kawaden (川傳) and drawn by Shigehiro (茂廣), who also wrote the stories, which he signed as Ryūō (柳櫻). Tsuchiya lists eight prints in the series, including the diptych.

The diptych, published about March 1875 judging from its content, has no number. In calling it ONS-9003, I am following the numbering scheme I devised for the ONS series as listed in Tsuchiya 1995. Note, however, that on Tsuchiya Reiko's CD-ROM (Bunsei Shoin 2000), this print and related files are named ONN9001.

The Itami exhibition catalog properly describes ONS-9003 as a horizontal oban diptych. This corrects both Tsuchiya 1995 and the CD-ROM, which called it a quadriptych -- apparently thinking, because all single sheet pictures in the same (and practically all other Osaka news nishikie) series are chūban, it must consist of four vertical chūban sheets aligned horizontally side by side -- whereas it is actually two horizontal oban sheets aligned end to end.

All the other prints in the series are single vertical chūban pictures. Apart its multiple sheets and their size and orientation, however, the diptych is so different from the others in design that I am inclined to view it as a stand-alone publication having no relationship to the series -- except that it shares the same publisher, drawer, and writer -- and has "Osaka nichinichi shinbun" at the top of its title cartouche.


The title cartouche of ONS-9003 has three elements: (1) What appears to be a series title (Osaka nichinichi shinbun), (2) a genre description (ehon), and (3) a title.

大阪日々新聞 / 絵本
角中 [芝居] 大勝選圖
かどなか [しば] おおがっせんのづ

Ōsaka nichinichi shinbun / Ehon
Kado Naka shiba[i] ōgassen no dzu

Osaka daily news / Picture book
Drawing of great battle of Kado and Naka theaters

Only the title has furigana. What I have shown as [芝居] is actually written as a single character which looks like like [居芝]. Beside this character -- the elements of which are meant to be read from right to left -- are furigana for "shiba" (for 芝) but none for "i" (for 居). It is not clear to me whether this is an intentionally or accidental omission I am assuming that, for some reason other than an error, the compound has been abbreviated both graphically (as a single character) and linguistically (as "shiba" rather than "shibai").


Two theatrical troupes -- Kadoza (aka as "Kado no Shibai") and Nakaza (aka "Naka no Shibai") -- were rivals in a determination of which would perform the drama "Wagō Soga Homare no Fuji" (Harmonious Soga, A mountain of honor). Nakaza won the competition, and its impresario San'ei staged performances from an auspicious day in March. Kadoza's performance, under the direction of the impresario Daishin, began from 5 April.

The diptych shows the two troupes acting out the battle between the Soga brothers mounted on horses right and left. The purpose of this print is evident in the small red cartouches, which identify the performers by name. This makes the print what I would call an "action banzuke" or playlist.

Scans of both sheets of this diptych are posted on the website of Engeki Hakubutsukan (Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum) Digital Archives Collection at Waseda University, with information on the drama, troupes, impresarios, performances, and performers. (WW)

Principal sources

1. Tsuchiya 2000

2. Engeki Hakubutsukan (Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum) Digital Archives Collection at Waseda University