Copped and cropped from Ono 1972
Yubin hochi shinbun
No. 0 -- circa January 1875
Promotional flyer

The unfurled banner on the print to the right reads Yubin hochi shinbun or "Postal dispatch news" -- a newspaper. The print was published as a flyer to announce the start of a series of nishikie based on stories from the newspaper. As the names of the two publications are the same, I am calling the paper "Hochi" and the print series "YHS".

YHS was conceived as a rival of a Tokyo nichinichi shinbun or "Tokyo daily news" -- a nishikie series (TNS) that was based on and named after a rival newspaper (Tonichi). YHS, like TNS, was a nishikie and not a newspaper or a newspaper supplement. In other words, the nishikie were published and distributed independently of their namesake papers.

Drawer and publisher

Prominently billed to the right of the unfurled banner is the name of the drawer, Yoshitoshi. As conspicuously shown to the left is the name of the publisher, Kinshodo.

Just as Hochi/YHS were younger upstarts of Tonichi/TNS, Yoshitoshi -- consigned to draw the pictures for YHS -- was a younger rival of Yoshiiku, who drew the pictures for TNS. The publishers of the two series -- Kinshodo and Gusokuya -- were also competing to survive in the rapidly changing woodblock print market.

Moralistic aims

The text on this inaugural print states that one of the aims of the YHS nishikie series will be to delight "children and women" (domo fujo ֕w) while edifying them with real-life stories exemplifying "human sympathy" (ninjo l). A similar appeal appears in the inaugural issue of its TNS rival.

As Ono Hideo points out, appeals of the "kanzen choaku" (P) or "encourage good and chastise evil" variety were cliches in popular publications aimed at adults (Ono 1972:9-10). See Morality and Censorship for a closer look at this moralistic dance between publishers and authorities with censorial powers. (WW)

Note that this print was apparently not drawn by Yoshitoshi, but by Toshinao [tentative], one of his disciples.