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The One Hundred Views of the Moon Yoshitoshi


The 100 Views of the Moon

Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)

RONIN GALLERY 425 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017 The Largest Collection of Japanese Prints in the U.S. Japanese and East Asian Contemporary Art September 2016 © 2016 RONIN GALLERY All Rights Reserved

The 100 Views of the Moon Regarded as one of the great masterpiece series Even Daoist magicians who materialised of ukiyo-e, Yoshitoshi’s 100 Views of the Moon moonbeams from their pockets were, offers not only compositional and technical brilliance, but also unfettered passion. From I hear, obliged to use several hundred fantastical ghost stories to historical tales, elegant to fierce samurai, Yoshitoshi creates a strands of rope. Now Yoshitoshi, a resident courtesans phantasmagoria of mesmerizing beauty. He draws inspiration from every conceivable source— of Asakusa in Kokai, has, with absolute legends, customs, festivals, classical poetry, freedom, conjured up images of the moon, and contemporary life in the 19th century—to create a powerful ode to traditional Japan. Ronin ancient and modern, from the hairs of Gallery is pleased to present all 100 prints from this groundbreaking series. Each work is printed his brush, and given them the title “One with an expertise and eye for detail, executed Hundred Aspects of the Moon.” 1 with a grace, brightness, and assurance rarely found in ukiyo-e during this period. Luxurious –Keika, 1885 2 techniques such as embossing, mercuric pigments

and careful overprinting were used to create the tangible mood of each print. This combination of narrative and technical mastery draws the viewer into an eerie and mysterious domain, erasing the boundaries between reality and illusion. When viewed in its entirety, this groundbreaking series provides insight into the mind of an eccentric genius and reveals a powerful imagination at the height of its expression.

A World Between

Portrait of Yoshitoshi by Toshikage. Woodblock print. 1892. 4 | 212.688.0188

Commodore Perry’s arrival in Yokohama Bay signaled a pivotal shift in Japan. An anxiety seeped into the soil, seeding and blooming over the next century. As Japan ended over 250 years of isolation, society abandoned the old, feudal system to become part of the new, modern world. Woodblock prints were overshadowed by lithography and photography, while kimonos were traded for western-style dress. Regarded as the last of the great masters of ukiyo-e, Yoshitoshi worked during this era of dramatic cultural and economic transformation. Through his stunning woodblock

prints, he made sense of a transitioning world with a familiar medium. His work expresses the pervasive atmosphere of uncertainty that plagued his country and exorcises the demons of social and political upheaval. These eerie and imaginative prints delve into the myriad facets of human nature and explore the spectrum of human emotion. Yoshitoshi’s considerable imagination and originality imbued his prints with a creativity, honesty and sensitivity rarely seen in ukiyo-e of this time period. Yoshitoshi was born a true edokko, or “child of Edo,” on April 30th, 1839. His given name was Yonejiro. Though his father originally belonged to the merchant class, he elevated his family rank by buying his way into the family of the samurai Yoshioka Hyobu. Little is known about Yoshitoshi’s mother, though it seems she divorced his father. Some scholars suggest that Yoshitoshi was the lovechild of his father’s mistress. When his father took a new mistress, Yoshitoshi left his family home to live with his uncle, a pharmacist who had recently lost his own son. As a young boy, Yoshitoshi showed remarkable artistic talent and fierce interest in classical Japanese literature and history. He began to study under the renowned Kuniyoshi at the age of 11. Kuniyoshi, a leading woodblock artist of the day, developed a close relationship with his pupil and gave him the go, or artist’s name, Yoshitoshi. In Kuniyoshi’s studio, Yoshitoshi studied by copying his master’s designs, but also practiced life drawing, an uncommon practice in the mid-19th century. Yoshitoshi published his first print to modest success in 1853, a triptych of a famous clash between the Taira and Minamoto clans. That same year, Commodore Perry’s “black ships” docked in Edo Bay. Bearing President Millard Fillmore’s invitation to establish trade and diplomatic relations with the U.S., Perry left with his

demands unmet and a promise to return in a year’s time. Wary of the Western world’s propensity for gunboat diplomacy, the waning Tokugawa Shogunate decided to engage in foreign trade upon Perry’s return in 1854. This decision was widely resented by the aristocratic and samurai classes, and incited several violent clashes with the incoming westerners. In the early 1860’s, Yoshitoshi’s work focused on kabuki subjects and historical scenes, as well as prints of foreigners. As the 19th century progressed, ukiyo-e felt the influence of the modern era. Synthetic dyes replaced natural dyes and artists worked in a whole new system of color, rich in striking reds and vibrant purples. Although many scholars cite the opening of Japan for a perceived decline in ukiyo-e, an incredible creativity rose from this tumult of transition. Yoshitoshi learned to use these colors with subtlety and skill, holding his works to the highest printing standards throughout his career. In 1861, Kuniyoshi passed away, leaving the 22-year-old Yoshitoshi without his mentor, his teacher, or connections to publishers. The death of his master dealt a heavy blow to the young artist, but as he struggled to make ends meet, he began to develop his personal style. During this period, he became friends with Ichikawa Danjuro IX and Onoe Kikugoro V, two of the most popular kabuki actors of the day. His friendship with the actors influenced his prints, resulting in unmatched, powerful portraits of these kabuki stars. The year 1863 was significant for Yoshitoshi. He contributed to a set of Tokaido prints, received a commission to paint a thirty-foot long curtain in Kofu, and attracted his first student, Toshikage. The works completed during this period concern violent historical subjects and battle prints. While his career soared, his personal life proved more tumultuous. His father passed away, followed by his first daughter, born of an anonymous mistress. | 212.688.0188


He began signing his works “Tsukioka Yoshitoshi,” taking his uncle’s surname. Though his reputation was growing, he remained poor. As political instability grew, Yoshitoshi entered his “bloody period,” an era marked by graphic violence and extravagant brutality. Rice shortages plagued Japan and Yoshitoshi participated in the riots that ensued. The country became divided between the rule of the shogun and that of the emperor. The conflict culminated in 1868 with the abdication of the shogun and restoration of the young Emperor Meiji. Though the shogun cooperated in this power shift, two thousand samurai gathered in Ueno, known as the Shogitai, or “The Clear and Righteous Brigade.” When the peace talk concluded, they felt betrayed by the shogun and incited a vicious battle with the imperial troops. Yoshitoshi witnessed the merciless defeat of the old order first hand. The horror of this clash permeated his work for years to come. Yoshitoshi produced his most shocking prints between 1866 and 1868, depicting horrifying, even sadistic images of chilling deaths and brutality. Glue was mixed with red ink to evoke congealed blood and many of the works were explicitly violent. Yoshitoshi became notorious for these terrifying designs both in Japan and abroad. These subjects reveal a contradictory horror and fascination in violence. They provided a form of catharsis, an effort to exorcise the real-life terror and cruelty of turn-of-the century Japan through the atrocities of the past. Social, economic and political change progressed at a stunning speed. In the words of the 20th century novelist Natsume Soseki, “this rapid course of development constituted a nervous breakdown in the Japanese national character.” 3 As modernization pushed ahead, Yoshitoshi suffered a nervous breakdown in 1872. He sunk into poverty, ceasing all artistic 6 | 212.688.0188

production. He suffered frequent illness from malnutrition and his mistress Otoko sold all of her belongings in an effort to support him. Though he experienced bouts of lucidity, his depressive episodes prevented him from working, but not from teaching. He managed to retain a dark sense of humor with his students, who often brought him food from their family homes. A year later, he returned to his work with a newfound maturity. He adopted the name Taiso, meaning “Great Resurrection” and embarked on the most creative period of his career.

“Do we not feel in Yoshitoshi the atmosphere of the city those days, no longer old Edo, not yet the new Tokyo?” 4 -Novelist Akutagawa Ryunosuke

While Yoshitoshi continued to present battle scenes, he turned his attention to more recent incidents and slowly shifted from overt violence to the psychological struggles of individuals. As his career progressed, his prints gained increasing sense of profound serenity. The popularity of newspapers grew during the Meiji period and Yoshitoshi began to work for Postal News, the first of many newspapers that he would illustrate in the coming years. Yet, his financial woes continued and his mistress Otoko sold herself to a brothel to support him. His fortunes shifted once again with his prints of the Satsuma Rebellion, an attempted uprising of the samurai class. These works won him enormous popularity and a great deal of money, though could not secure him a stable income. In 1884, he married

Sakamaki Taiko, a former geisha, who appeared to help him remain mentally and financially stable. He adopted her two children and the family lived comfortably. His prints continued to mature and humor began to appear in his work. Yoshitoshi met the publisher Akiyama Buemon while exhibiting a painting of Fujiwara no Yasumasa playing the flute. The publisher was so taken by the image that he convinced Yoshitoshi to adapt the painting as a triptych. The two became close friends and together embarked on Yoshitoshi’s renowned series 100 Views of the Moon in 1885. Culled from ancient Chinese and Japanese folklore and history, 19th century Japanese culture, and classical poetry, 100 Views of the Moon preserves the rich cultural legacy of Japan. The first five prints were released in October and met with extreme popularity. Over the next six years, Yoshitoshi completed 95 more designs, each eagerly awaited by the Meiji audience. The series captures Yoshitoshi’s nostalgia for traditional Japan, yet he achieves this through a hybrid of old and new techniques. The subjects and medium recall the golden age of ukiyo-e, while Yoshitoshi integrates western compositional technique and aniline dyes.

Quiet and reflective, this series marks a maturity of his work. In the last decade of his life, Yoshitoshi designed numerous illustrated books and several other popular series: New Selection of Eastern Brocade Pictures (late 1880s) provided an ode to the urban folklore of Edo, while Thirty-Two Aspects of Women (1888) offered a nod to Utamaro, the great 18th century master of ukiyo-e. Following a major robbery of his home in 1888, Yoshitoshi slipped into mental illness once again. Despite his deteriorating mental state, he began the series Thirty-six Ghosts (1889). The series covered a range of haunting and ghoulish tales with the same refinement and sensitivity of 100 Views of the Moon. In 1891 Yoshitoshi was again overcome by his illness. He moved in and out of asylums, working intermittently. In the spring of 1892, he suffered a severe mental breakdown and was committed to the Sugamo Asylum. He was released in May and rented a house in Honjo rather than returning home. On the 9th of June 1892, he died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 53. His death poem reads: “Holding back the night/ with its increasing brilliance/ the summer moon.” 5

This collection has been amassed over several years, composed of prints acquired from different collections. To avoid confusion, the English titles are those used in Yoshitoshi’s 100 Aspects of the Moon by John Stevenson. The prints were all published by Akiyama Buemon between 1885-1891 and have been organized in the order that they were dated. They are all oban size. All of the prints are in remarkably fine condition. The signatures on each print vary, as do the seals and engraver marks. Additional information regarding the seals and signature for any individual print can be found on our website:

1. Stevenson, John. Yoshitoshi’s One Hundred Aspects of the Moon. San Francisco Graphic Society, 1992. Print, 69. 2. Excerpt from the preface to Akiyama Buemon’s album of 100 Views of the Moon, published in 1892. As translated in Stevenson. 3. Ibid, 25. 4. Ibid, 44 5. Ibid, 51. | 212.688.0188


1. A Poem by Takao The name Takao was used successively by eleven different courtesans in the Yoshiwara, the famous pleasure district of Edo. Each of them was not only beautiful, but also well-versed in the arts of music and poetry. Yoshitoshi depicts the sixth courtesan, known for her literary talents. The haiku in the cartouche describes her longing for her lover: “By now you must be, somewhere near Komagata. A nightingale is singing.” Yoshitoshi dresses the beauty in the elegant fashion of the late 17th century, alluding to a golden age when courtesans were valued for both their talents and beauty. He also includes a set of linked verses rife with subtle eroticism. 1885 Ref. #: JP1-47053

2. Chang E Flees to the Moon Joga hongetsu In Chinese mythology, Chang E is the woman in the moon. She was the wife of a heroic archer who was rewarded for his services to the gods by a gift of the elixir of immortality. In her husband’s absence, she stole the potion and drank it herself. She then ascended to the moon and became a goddess, though some versions of the tale state that she was turned into a three-legged frog as punishment. Yoshitoshi captures Chang E in her ascent, rising above the yellow and grey of the clouds to the blushing moon. As the ribbons of her robes curl in the wind, she glances down at the small frog atop the empty jade container. 1885 Ref. #: JP1-47052

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3. Rising Moon Over Mt. Nanping: Cao Cao Nanpeizan shogetsu - Soso Cao Cao (in Japanese, So So) is a prominent figure in the semi-historical Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which describes the civil wars of 3rd century China. Although Cao Cao is cast as the villain of the tale, he is as brave and intrepid as any of the heroes. The night before the famous Battle of the Red Cliffs, Cao Cao was in a boat on the Yangzi River. Two crows flew by, an evil omen, but he composed a defiant poem and continued to give orders to his officers for the doomed battle. Yoshitoshi presents this antihero on the eve of his downfall. Though defeat waits beyond the dark cliffs, Cao Cao stands tall with his spear in hand. 1885 Ref. #: JP1-47049

4. The Gion District: Oishi Chikara Gionmachi The kabuki drama Kanadehon Chushingura presents a dramatized version of the true story of the 47 loyal ronin who gave their own lives to avenge their master’s death. The youngest of the 47 was Oishi Chikara, called Rikiya in the play. In Act VII, Rikiya must deliver a secret letter to his father Yuranosuke, the leader of the vendetta plot. Yuranosuke waits in a teahouse in the Gion area of Kyoto, feigning a dissipated life so that the villain, Moronao, will not suspect danger until it is too late. As Rikiya cannot openly deliver the message, he stands outside the teahouse, holding the letterbox, and raps softly on the gate with the hilt of his sword. In this print, Rikiya looks over his shoulder, his knit eyebrows revealing the sense of danger and anxiety that such a plot creates. 1885 Ref. #: JP1-47048 | 212.688.0188


5. A Poem by Kikaku This print illustrates one of the best-known haiku poems by the poet Enomoto Kikaku (1661-1707), a pupil of Basho. Some scholars suggest that this work is an ode to the great ukiyo-e artist Utamaro. The poem reads, “What a beautiful moon It casts the shadow of pine boughs Upon the mats.” As delicate needles splay their shadows from the bottom right corner, a courtesan reclines on the lush green tatami. Her pale skin glows in the light of the autumn moon as her two under-kimono and sash drape from her body, beautifully undone. Despite the brothel setting, Yoshitoshi’s image is free of customers or hints of male presence. Instead, he offers a behind-the-scenes peek into life within the Yoshiwara. 1885 Ref. #: JP1-47047

6. The Village of the Shi clan on a Moonlit Night Shikason tsukiyo - Kumonryu

The Water Margin, a famous 14th century Chinese tale of 108 bandit heroes, became enormously popular in Japan through its 19th century adaptation, Suikoden. Shi Shin was one of the 108 heroes, nicknamed Kumonryu, or “the Nine-dragoned,” due to his elaborate tattoo of nine dragons. He began life as the son of a wealthy landowner in the village named after his family. One summer evening he learned that three bandits planned to attack his village. He captured the outlaws, but joined their ranks once he heard their stories of injustice and oppression. Yoshitoshi captures Kumonryu in a quiet moment before his outlaw life begins. The moon shines upon his tattooed dragons as he stares into the distance in deep contemplation. 1885 Ref. #: JP1-47046 10 | 212.688.0188

7. Inaba Mountain Moon Inabayama no tsuki Mt. Inaba, near present-day Gifu City, was formerly the site of the castle that controlled Mino province. During the civil wars at the end of the 16th century, the castle passed from hand to hand and was finally destroyed, leaving only a picturesque ruin. Yoshitoshi recalls the castle in its former glory. Here, a soldier is seen scaling the mountain in the light of the moon, probably for a surprise attack on the castle. A strikingly large moon hangs low beneath the soldier as he digs his fingers into the mountainside, pulling himself up. In this print, Yoshitoshi focuses on the emotional world of an individual warrior. 1885 Ref. #: JP1-47044

8. Moonlight Patrol: Saito Toshimitsu Gekka no sekko - Saito Toshimitsu The ill-fated warrior, Saito Kuranosuke Toshimitsu, must have been one of Yoshitoshi’s favorite historical characters, since he is depicted in two separate prints in this series. Toshimitsu was originally a retainer of the Saito family of Mino province. Later, he served Akechi Mitsuhide. Mitsuhide allied with the successful military leader Oda Nobunga, yet soon sought revenge for Nobunga’s persistent chastisement. Toshimitsu tried to persuade Mitsuhide not to attack Oda Nobunaga, but when Mitsuhide attacked Nobunaga anyway, Toshimitsu joined forces with him. Toshimitsu was captured soon after the battle and became a monk. As the last hint of sunset fades on the horizon and the moon hangs high, Yoshitoshi depicts the warrior in full armor, scouting the land before the battle. 1885 Ref. #: JP1-47043 | 212.688.0188


9. Mountain Moon After Rain: Tokimune Ugo no sangetsu: Tokimune The Soga brothers, Juro Sukenari and Goro Tokimune, grew up obsessed with the thought of avenging their father, who had been killed by Kudo Suketsune when they were children. Their great opportunity came when Suketsune joined a hunting party in the vicinity of Mt. Fuji held by the shogun Yoritomo. The brothers broke into Suketsune’s camp on a stormy night and killed him. The villain’s retainers promptly killed Sukenari, while the young Tokimune was later executed on the orders of Yoritomo. This 12th century tale inspired over 20 plays and became a staple of Japanese literature. In the darkness of the crescent moon, Tokimune gazes towards a cuckoo, a symbol of life’s transience. 1885 Ref. #: JP1-47040

10. Moon of Pure Snow at Asano River: Chikako, the Filial Daughter Asanogawa seisetsu no tsuki: Kojo Chikako Chikako was the daughter of the ship builder Zeniya Gobei, a very wealthy man as well as a local hero, who was later jailed when he ran out of money. Chikako prayed for her father’s release, jumping to her death in the freezing waters of the Asano River to demonstrate her sincerity. Yoshitoshi depicts the lonely Chikako in freefall, a bright flutter of fabric against the snowy landscape. She holds her hands together in prayer as her tissues hang in the air and egrets fly away from her plummeting form. 1885 Ref. #: JP1-47039

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11. Cooling Off at Shijo Shijo noryo Shijo or “Fourth Avenue,” was a street in Kyoto that lead to the Kamo River. During the summer, the river receded and became a seasonal entertainment district filled with teahouses, restaurants, booths and dance troops. It became a tradition to mark the hottest days of summer with Shijogawara no suzumi, or “cooling off on Shijo riverbank,” a practice that was popular throughout the Meiji period. This charming print shows a young girl in a lightweight summer kimono. She dips her foot into the water to relieve the heat of a summer evening. The view of her red under-kimono provides a spark of intimacy to the work. In the brilliant light of the full moon, the lantern beside her hardly seems necessary. 1885 Ref. #: JP1-47038

12. Moon Above the Sea at Daimotsu Bay: Benkei Daimotsu kaijo no tsuki: Benkei When Minamoto Yoshitsune fled the wrath of his brother, Yoritomo, he and his followers were caught in a violent storm in the Straits of Shimonoseki. As the water threatened their ranks, Musashibo Benkei, a favorite hero of the Genji-Heike wars and devout follower of Yoshitsune, took to the front of the ship and saved them with his prayers. In this dynamic work, Yoshitoshi contrasts the fury of the storm with the serenity of Benkei. While the waves crest white and close in around the ship, Benkei appears calm, peaceful, his stance strong beneath the ghostly shadow silhouetted in the moon above. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47037 | 212.688.0188


13. The Cry of the Fox Konkai Konkai (Fox’s Cry) is another name for the kyogen dramatic farce better known as Tsurigitsune (fox trapping). A trapper receives a surprise visit from his uncle, the priest Hakuzoshu, who delivers a passionate lecture on the wickedness of trapping foxes. Later, the trapper realizes that the visitor was not his uncle at all but a fox in disguise. Yoshitoshi depicts the sly fox on his way home, still wearing the priest’s clothing, but gradually reassuming his true form. Human hands clasp prayer beads as the auburn snout of the fox glances over his shoulder. Foxes are magical creatures in Japanese folklore. While not malicious, they are known for their trickery. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47036

14. A Poem by Tsunenobu Minamoto Tsunenobu was an 11th century courtier skilled in tanka poetry. One autumn night, while viewing the moon from his home in Rokujo, he heard a sound like cloth being beaten with a mallet and recited a poem: “The moon is lovely And I hear the sound of someone beating a Chinese robe. Looking into the sky I recognize A person who is still awake.” Suddenly, a demonic spirit appeared and recited a Chinese poem similar to Tsunenobu’s. Though the demon incited great terror amongst the household, he did them no harm. In this work, Yoshitoshi shows only the beastly leg of the demon, focusing instead on the human reaction to the monster. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47035

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15. Mt. Yoshino Midnight-moon: Iga-no Tsubone Yoshinoyama yowa no tsuki: Iga no Tsubone The ghost of Kiyotaka (a traitor to the emperor who had been ordered to commit seppuku) haunted the Imperial Palace at Yoshino. He terrorized the courtiers until the lady-in-waiting Iga-no Tsubone faced the ghost and convinced him to depart. Yoshitoshi captures the eerie power of the ghost as clawed fingers curl around the cartouche and golden eyes staring madly at the visitor. Tsubone stands tall and unafraid, her long Heian-style hair flowing down her back as autumn leaves fall around her. A strong, fearless woman, she provides a calm to the scene, a voice of reason to counter the ghost’s leering grin. The moon appears to be in eclipse, adding the mystical nature of the scene. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47034

16. A Poem by Sugawara Michizane Sugawara Michizane was a poet and statesman of the 9th century, famous for his love of plum blossoms. Here, he is shown as a young courtier composing a poem inspired by his favorite flower. The tree curls around him, its pale buds glowing from painterly branches. “The moon glitters like pure snow; The plum flowers are like shining stars. Ah! The golden mirror is turning in the sky. In the garden the sound of a jade bell is heard.” Yoshitoshi fills the cartouche with square formal characters, as Michizane wrote his poetry in Chinese. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47033 | 212.688.0188


17. The Moon at High Tide Ideshio no tsuki In the popular 15th century Noh play Takasago, a Shinto priest meets an old couple using a broom and a rake to tidy the ground beneath a pine tree. They reveal themselves to be the spirits of two famous pine trees, one at Takasago, and one in Sumiyoshi. The elderly couple expounds on the longevity of pine trees, explaining that this vigor is mirrored in their relationship. Yoshitoshi presents the spirits in intricately patterned and embossed Noh robes. Though the moon does not appear in the print, its gentle light bathes the scene. As pine trees symbolize longevity, this play is considered appropriate for New Year’s Day and other happy occasions. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47032

18. An Iron Cauldron and the Moon at Night: Kofuna no Gengo and Koshi Hanzo Tsukiyo no kama: Kofuna no Gengo Koshi Hanzo An unusually large kama, an iron kettle used for cooking rice or heating water, peeks across the left edge of the print. Beside it, a pair of scoundrels named Kofuna no Gengo and Koshi Hanzo plan to smash the kama, perhaps so that they can carry it away in small pieces. Yoshitoshi portrays this humorous subject in a style close to caricature, exaggerating the expressions and composing the foolhardy thieves with comical proportions. This print is signed Yoshitoshi giga, or “drawn for amusement by Yoshitoshi,” a signature generally used for his caricature and parody prints. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47031

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19. The Moon of Ogurusu in Yamashiro Yamashiro Ogurusu no tsuki In 1582, in the village of Ogurusu in Yamashiro province, Akechi Mitsuhide killed the military leader Oda Nobunaga and proclaimed himself shogun. Lacking the proper forces to secure his power, Mitsuhide was overthrown by Toyotomi Hideyoshi after only thirteen days. Following this decisive defeat at Yamazaki, Mitsuhide fled toward his own castle at Sakamoto. As he passed through the village of Ogurusu, he was ambushed and killed by local peasants. The figure of a stalwart peasant dominates the foreground of Yoshitoshi’s unusual composition. In the distance, Mitsuhide approaches in the moonlight. Clad in the full armor and an elaborate helmet, he rides to his inglorious end. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47030

20. Shujaku Gate Moon: Hakuga Sanmi Shujakumon no tsuki: Hakuga Sanmi The 10th century noble, Semimaru, a blind flutist recognized as a musical luminary of the period, played a beautiful tune on the flute that no one could imitate. He regretted that he had no student to whom he could transmit his secret techniques. Hearing this lament, the courtier Hakuga Sanmi, also known as Minamoto no Hiromasa, begged Semimaru to take him as a pupil. Semimaru agreed, and Hiromasa learned to play as well as his teacher. Yoshitoshi presents the two musicians playing their sweet melody in the moonlight at the Shujaku Gate, also known as Suzaku Gate. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47029 | 212.688.0188


21. Itsukushima Moon: A Muro Courtesan Itsukushima no tsuki: Muro no yujo Located southwest of Hiroshima, the island of Itsukushima (today Miyajima) is one of the three sankei, or “most scenic spots in Japan.” The island is home to a famous shrine to Susano-o, a wild Shinto deity of the moon and sea, heavily patronized by the Taira family before their tragic downfall. In this print, a high-ranking 12th century courtesan approaches the island at high tide. The main torii is partially submerged as she sails in the moonlight. The small drum, which is visible in the bottom of the boat, shows that she is a dancer, perhaps visiting Itsukushima for the annual festival. Beside her sits a large travelling hat with a long scarlet veil and decorative tassels hanging from it. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47028

22. Moon and Smoke Enchu no tsuki Fires were such a common occurrence in Edo that they became ironically known as the “flowers of Edo.” Since traditional Japanese houses were constructed almost entirely of paper and wood, the slightest spark could cause tragedy. Teams of professional firefighters were organized to combat these frequent disasters. The firemen were colorful characters known for their competitive team spirit. Each team was identified by emblems on their protective clothing and by elaborate standards called matoi, such as the one held by the firemen in the foreground. Here, a single fireman considers the scene, still before the blaze with his matoi. Through the smoke, a shadowy figure holds the matoi of rival group. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47026

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23. Faith in the Third-day Moon: Yukimori Shinko no mikazuki: Yukimori Yamanaka Shikanosuke Yukimori was a warrior famous for his great physical strength. He served as a general to the lord of Izumo province during the 16th century wars and died at the age of 34. He believed that the crescent moon or “threeday moon” was a powerful symbol of good luck and always wore an image of it attached to his helmet. Yoshitoshi echoes the crescent shape with Yukimori’s kamayari, or “sickle spear.” The warrior wears a stern expression, asserting an inner strength to match his fierce outward appearance. The gradation of the grey around the figure accentuates Yukimori’s physical presence on the page. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47025

24. Moon of the Pleasure Quarters Kuruwa no tsuki Each spring, the cherry trees along the main avenue of the Yoshiwara, Edo’s licensed pleasure district, burst into bloom. Like the delicate cherry blossoms, the courtesans were transitory beauties. In this print, Yoshitoshi depicts a courtesan out on a moonlit stroll with her small kamuro, or apprentice. High atop her geta, or clogs, the courtesan gazes at the young girl who has stopped to watch the petals fall in the lamplight. The high clogs denote her special social status, and the pale petals blend with the pattern of her outer kimono. Yoshitoshi uses the word kuruwa in the title of this print. While it originally referred to an enclosed area of a castle, it came to mean an enclosed pleasure quarter, such as the famous Yoshiwara. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47024 | 212.688.0188


25. Gravemarker Moon Sotoba no tsuki Ono-no Komachi was a 9th century poetess famous for her beauty. Her life inspired seven significant noh plays, each reflecting a period in her life. The last, “Sotoba Komachi” or “Grave-post Komachi,” shows her as an old beggar woman sitting on the fallen post and regretting the passing of her beauty. Yoshitoshi conveys this famous scene with a melancholy mood. Dressed in the noh robes worn by her character, Komachi’s tattered hat reveals her struggle, but her face retains a very slight flicker of beauty and a wealth of wisdom. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47023

26. Cassia-tree Moon: Wu Gang Tsuki no katsura: Gobetsu In Chinese mythology, eight ten-thousand-foot cassia trees grow on the moon. Each tree sheds its crimson leaves in autumn, giving the Harvest Moon its signature color. Though the trees are not actually shown in this print, we see the immortal axewielder, Wu Gang. A learned Daoist, he possessed great magic but exploited that magic to evil ends. The gods could not take away his powers, so he was condemned to hew down the ever-growing boughs of the trees until the end of the world. In this print, Wu Gang considers his punishment but does not seem troubled by this eternal sentence. He points to the moon, mouth open beneath his heavy beard, seemingly awed by the task at hand. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47022

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27. Moon of Yamaki Mansion: Kagekado Yamaki yakata no tsuki: Kagekado This print illustrates an episode from the Tale of Heike, a chronicle of the civil wars of the 13th century. Kato Kagekado was sent by Minamoto Yoritomo to assassinate Taira no Kanetaka during a brutal night attack. Kagekado found Kanetaka’s looming figure silhouetted by the moonlight on a sliding door. He tricked his opponent by thrusting out his helmet on the end of his naginata (a weapon consisting of a sword-like blade attached to a pole). As Kanetaka slashed at the helmet, Kagekado attacked from the opposite side and killed his opponent. This victory marked the Minamoto clan’s initial step to control of Japan. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47021

28. Chikubushima Moon: Tsunemasa Chikubushima no tsuki: Tsunemasa Tsunemasa was a powerful Taira clan general graced with great talent for poetry and music. During the famous wars between the Taira and Minamoto clans, Tsunemasa visited a shrine on the island of Chikubu with his fellow generals. Under the silver light of the moon, they prayed for victory over the Minamoto. The priest there had heard of Tsunemasa’s musical skills and presented a lute for him to play. The general played so beautifully that Benten, the goddess of the shrine, appeared in the form of a white dragon and promised victory. He returned to the mainland convinced that the Minamoto clan would be crushed. Yoshitoshi depicts Tsunemasa alone, but the fabric that hangs from the pine bough alludes to the coming of the goddess. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47020 | 212.688.0188


29. The Yugao Chapter from The Tale of Genji Genji yugao no maki Murasaki Shikibu wrote the famed Genji Monogatari (The Tale of Genji) at beginning of the 11th century. The drama follows the romantic adventures of the irresistibly handsome Prince Genji. In this print, Yoshitoshi portrays the most mysterious of Genji’s lovers. The story tells that Genji fell in love with her at the sight of her handwriting. Persist as he might, the beauty would not reveal her true identity, so he called her Yugao (evening face), after the morningglory-like flowers that grew around her dilapidated house. One night, she agreed to accompany Genji to one of his lavish villas. After they consummated their love, Yugao died very suddenly, killed by a jealous spirit of a former mistress. Yoshitoshi portrays her as a wistful ghost, delicate and pale as the flower of her namesake. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47019

30. The Moon Through a Crumbling Window Haso no tsuki The Indian prince Bodhidharma (known in Japan as Daruma) traveled from India to China to found the Zen sect of Buddhism. He sat in meditation without moving for nine years, as a result of which his legs withered away. A legend states that the monk Eka came to study with Daruma, but Daruma refused to respond and continued to meditate. Finally, Eka cut off his arm to prove his commitment to enlightenment. With this gesture, Daruma took him on as a student. In this print, Daruma sits unconcerned while the temple walls crumble around him, providing a window to the moon. As the building falls away, he moves closer to enlightenment. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47018

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31. Mount Ji Ming Moon: Zi Fang Keimeizan no tsuki: Shibo Zhang Liang (in Japanese, Shibo), whose literary name was Zi Fang, served as chief advisor to Liu Bang, the first emperor of the Han Dynasty in ancient China. It was he who persuaded the emperor to join forces with Xiang Yu to overthrow the tyrannical state of Ch’in. Later, Liu Bang and Xiang Yu quarreled. Liu Bang’s army pursued Xiang Yu and surrounded him, but he was still not defeated. One night, Zhang Liang went close to the enemy camp and played one of the sheng (a mournful sounding mouth organ) melodies from their home province. When the enemy soldiers heard the music, they were so homesick that most of them deserted. Xiang Yu subsequently committed suicide and Liu Bang became emperor of China. Zhang Liang’s robes catch in the breeze as it carries that fatal melody to enemy lines. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47017

32. The Moon at Kitayama: Toyohara Sumiaki Kitayama no tsuki: Toyohara Sumiaki Toyohara Sumiaki was a courtier and talented musician who served under Emperor GoKashiwabara. One night, while playing his flute in the moonlight, he was approached by ferocious wolves. He feared for his life, but when he played his favorite song, the wolves returned to the forest. Sumiaki’s fear is tangible in this print. The wind whips his robes around him, accentuating his apprehension. The moon eerily lights the scene, illuminating the many sharp teeth of the wolves. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47016 | 212.688.0188


33. Dawn Moon of the Shinto Rites: Festival on a Hill Shinji no zangetsu: Oyama no matsuri Incorporating elaborate costumes, wigs, and masks, kagura, is a type of dance performed at Shinto shrines on festive occasions. In this print, an elaborately costumed dancer stands atop the float and raises a gohei, a paper-covered wand used to evoke the Shinto gods. The ornate brocade that covers the float matches the drama of the dancer’s flowing red wig and spectacular costume. The dancer is part of a procession celebrating the festival of Sanno, a summer festival still celebrated in Tokyo and Kyoto today. To the right, a drum topped with an ornament of a rooster, a symbol of good government, is carried. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47015

34. The Moon’s Inner Vision: Taira no Tomoume Shinkan no tsuki: Taira no Tomoume In this print, the blind warrior Taira no Tomoume is shown in a brutal fight to the death. While many of Yoshitoshi’s early works show bloody battle scenes, he spares the explicit bloodbath in this series. In fact, this print is one of the most active battles in the series. Instead, Yoshitoshi concentrates on the emotional quality of the battle and the human struggle of the combatants. Details, such as the fallen banner, suggest Tomoume’s situation is hopeless, yet his face shows his determination to fight to the end. The moon appears in this print only through the warrior’s personal emblem, a poem attached to his back referring to his heart and the moon. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47011

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35. Mt. Otowa Moon: Bright God Tamura Otowayama no tsuki: Tamura Myojin At the beginning of the 9th century, Sakanoue no Tamuramaro, known as General Tamura, was sent by the emperor to subdue the aboriginal populations in the Seizaka Mountains. Following a successful campaign, he founded the famous Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto. In the noh play, Tamura, a travelling priest arrives at Kiyomizu on a moonlit, spring night. The ghost of Tamuramaro appears to him twice: first under a blossoming cherry tree as a boy sweeping fallen petals, and again, as the brave general. Yoshitoshi portrays both ghostly encounters at once: Tamuramaro stands with the broom beneath the cherry blossoms, but wears the armor of a general. The grey mask evokes a noh mask, strengthening the prints allusion to Tamura. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47010

36. Takakura Moon: Hasebe Nobutsura Takakura no tsuki: Hasebe Nobutsura Hasebe Nobutsura was the retainer of Prince Mochihito-Shinno. In 1180, the prince plotted with Minamoto Yorimasa to overthrow Taira-no Kiyomori. Taira forces discovered the plot and the prince had to flee the castle immediately to avoid arrest. Nobutsura helped the prince and his foster brother escape dressed as courtly women. Since traveling upper class women obscured their entire form with large veiled hats, the two men stayed well hidden and escaped the oncoming soldiers. Nobutsura remained behind to defend the castle. Yoshitoshi portrays the loyal retainer at the edge of the trees, watching the prince escape into the misty night. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47008 | 212.688.0188


37. A Glimpse of the Moon: Kahoyo Kaimami no tsuki: Kahoyo As told in the 14th century history Taiheiki, Lady Kahoyo’s stunning beauty made her famous throughout the Shogun’s court. Lord Ko no Moronao was enchanted by the mere thought of her and decided to witness her beauty first-hand. He arranged to secretly view Lady Kahoyo as she left her bath. Obsessed with what he had seen, he accused her husband, En’ya Takasada, of treason to try and take Kahoyo for his own. Takasada and his family were killed as they tried to flee. In this work, Kahoyo steps into the dim light of the crescent moon, unaware of the voyeur beyond the fence. Moronao peeks over his fan, aroused by the private scene. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47007

38. Reflected Moonlight Lady Ariko no Naishi served as a lady-in-waiting to the empress in the Heian court. She fell hopelessly in love with a senior councilor, yet her passion was unrequited. Ariko was devastated and drowned herself in Lake Biwa. The cartouche holds a poem in which she expresses her feelings of despair. Yoshitoshi portrays the lady holding a lute in a small boat. She is lavishly dressed, and wears the flowing hairstyle of the Heian court. The hand holding the plectrum is raised to her eyes, wiping her tears, while the moonlight is skillfully reflected in the choppy water. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47005

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39. Inamura Promontory Moon at Daybreak: Nitta Yoshisada Inamuragasaki no akebono no tsuki In 1333, Nitta Yoshisada planned to attack Kamakura. However, as he and his army approached the castle, he found that it was strongly defended on land and that the sea entrance was too rough to cross. That night, he prayed to the gods of the sea, throwing his sword into the water as an offering. When morning came, the tide receded so far that Yoshisada’s army was able to march across the sand and defeat the enemy. Presenting Yoshisada in the early morning light, Yoshitoshi takes great care in each detail of the general’s armor. Brilliant dragonflies adorn his robe, while a dragon curls across his ornate breastplate. The hero raises his sword as an offering; head bowed in sincerity. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47002

40. The Moon of the Milky Way Ginga no tsuki Born to the Lord of Heaven, the Weaver Maiden Shokujo was responsible for weaving the fabric of heaven. She worked diligently until the day she fell in love with the Herdsboy Kengyu. The two were married and Shokujo stopped weaving. Her father became exasperated and determined that the lovers would only meet once a year, separating the two with the River of Heaven, or the Milky Way. Each year, on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, the couple would be reunited. This story, originally a Chinese myth, has become the basis of the Japanese Tanabata Festival. The heavenly couple is represented by the stars Vega and Aquila, which come into conjunction during the festival days. Yoshitoshi depicts the couple on opposite cloudbanks, moments away from their yearly reunion. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-47000 | 212.688.0188


41. Miho no Matsubara Miho no Matsubara is the name of the famous pine forest that juts into Suruga Bay. In this print, the 16th century warlord Takeda Shingen sits upon a golden cloud, appreciating this famous view of Mt. Fuji. Though depicted in quiet reflection rather than battle, Shingen appears fierce even at rest. Yoshitoshi conveys Shingen’s wild power through his dress: shoes of bearskin, an antler on his helmet and a tiger skin scabbard. He appears engrossed in the beauty of his surroundings, which are described by the poem in the cartouche. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-46998

42. Moon of the Enemy’s Lair: Little Prince Usu Zokuso no tsuki: O-Usu no miko The famous hero O-Usu was the son of Emperor Keiko, who ruled Yamato during legendary times. O-Usu was sent to quell the rebellion of the Kumaso, a native people in Kyushu. As young and beautiful as he was strong and fierce, the young hero borrowed clothes and disguised himself as a woman. In this disguise, he was able to infiltrate an enemy banquet and kill both of the Kumaso leaders. He was thereafter called Yamatotakeru no Mikoto, “The Champion of Japan.” Yoshitoshi presents the hero on his way to join the women. While his costume is convincing, behind his back his sword blade catches the moonlight, foreshadowing the violence to come. 1886? Ref. #: JP1-46993

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43. Theater-District Dawn Moon Shibaimachi no akatsuki In 19th century Tokyo, theaters were concentrated in a particular part of town, the Shibaimachi. Visitors could see kabuki plays, attend teahouses, restaurants, and other forms of entertainment in this popular area. A trip to the Shibaimachi offered an opportunity to show off. Yoshitoshi presents a particularly elegant woman in the purple predawn light. In keeping with the fashion of the day, her teeth are blackened, her top lip red and her bottom lip green. This color scheme came from a popular lipstick that delivered a red color with one coat, and an iridescent green when applied in several layers. The beauty dominates the foreground, while graceful shadows return home from a night of reverie. 1886 Ref. #: JP1-46985

44. A Classical Poem This print illustrates a poem by the Heian period noblewoman, Akazome Emon. After a long night spent waiting for a lover to arrive, she regrets getting her hopes up and missing sleep. Her poem reads: “I wanted to sleep in peace, and yet Throughout the night Till it began to ink I watched the moon.” Her hand poised on the door, the woman still hopes that the lover might arrive. Her hair flows into a pool behind her, while her eyebrows have been shaved off and drawn as small circles known as “moth-eyebrows.” Yoshitoshi evokes her frustration from a lost night of sleep, but also that last glimmer of futile hope, as she remains in the doorway. 1887? Ref. #: JP1-46984 | 212.688.0188


45. Hazy-Night Moon: Kumasaka Oboroyo no tsuki: Kumasaka The bandit priest Kumasaka Chohan led a band of robbers. Minamoto Yoshitsune killed Chohan when his gang staged a night attack on an inn where Yoshitsune was staying. In this scene from the noh play Kumasaka, the ghost of Kumasaka Chohan appears to a travelling priest one moonlit night beside a pine tree. On the stage, neither the pine tree nor the moon is shown–the audience imagines them from the dialogue. Yoshitoshi depicts the ghost in an extravagant noh costume and fierce, dynamic posture. The ghost’s halberd cannot be contained by the composition, its blade disappearing off the left edge. 1887 Ref. #: JP1-46983

46. Bon Festival Moon Bon no tsuki The Bon Festival was, and continues to be, the most popular summer celebration in Japan. Held during the full moon, spirits of the dead temporarily return to earth to visit their living descendants. This Buddhist festival is merry one, filled with celebration in the form of song, dance and delicious meals. Families leave offerings of food for their ancestors and hang lanterns to guide their way to and from the spirit realm. In this print, Yoshitoshi presents commoners dancing while singing and handclapping. The gleeful dancers ascend the left side of the composition towards the full moon. Faced with the rapid modernization of his time, Yoshitoshi treasured traditional Japanese customs such as this festival. 1887 Ref. #: JP1-46982

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47. A Poem by Kinto The poet Fujiwara Kinto (966-1041) was an accomplished member of the Heian court. He compiled Wakan Roeishu, a popular collection of Chinese and Japanese poetry, and drew up the list of 36 Immortal Poets of Japan. In this print, Yoshitoshi illustrates a poem by Kinto, a peaceful nature scene characteristic to his poetic style: “By the light of the moon On a whitely shining night I part the snowdrifts And break off plum blossoms.” Kinto stands in the fresh fallen snow in the courtyard of the Imperial palace. The flowers that inspired his verse catch the moonlight on their delicate petals. The direct contrast of Kinto’s heavy black robes and the crisp white of the snow creates an intense sense of drama in this hushed ode to nature. 1887 Ref. #: JP1-46981

48. Huai River Moon: Wu Zixu Waisui no tsuki: Goshisho Wu Yun, also called Wu Zixu (in Japanese, Go Shinsho), was the son of the prime minister of the state of Chu in ancient China. When the king of Chu murdered his father and brother, Wu Zixu was forced to flee to the neighboring state of Wu. When he led a campaign back to Chu, he was ferried across the river by a fisherman. While the title suggests that this story is the subject of this print, scholars recognize a second possibility: The story of Jiang Ziya. Emperor Shi Bei found Jiang Ziya on the bank of the river fishing with a strait nail on a pole with no bait. When asked why, he explained that he was more focused of philosophizing than catching fish, yet the fish came to his nail anyhow. The emperor took the man as his counselor and he served the emperor admirably for twenty years. 1887 Ref. #: JP1-46980 | 212.688.0188


49. A Poem by Hitotose The world of the Yoshiwara was not exempt from the strict, hierarchical nature of Edo society. Its inhabitants ranged from elegant, highly trained courtesans to the lowest class of streetwalkers called tsujigimi, or “mistress of the street corner.� These women wandered about carrying their straw bedrolls, ready to transact business at any time. The poem in the cartouche by Hitotose Oshun describes how the heavy make-up of tsujigimi catches the moonlight. Yoshitoshi depicts a stunning tsujigimi with subtle eroticism, from the glimpse of her red under-robe to the headscarf grasped gingerly between her teeth. Above, the moon glows through the dark clouds, an effect that required several blocks to achieve. 1887 Ref. #: JP1-46979

50. The Moon and the Helm of a Boat Daro no tsuki: Taira no Kiyotsune The 12th century clashes of the Taira and the Minamoto clans served as a favored source of motifs for later writers and artists. The Minamoto drove the Taira, who ruled Japan for twenty years, out of the capital in 1183. Two years later, they were again forced to move their temporary base in Kyushu and escaped by boat. Kiyotsune, a sensitive young member of the Taira clan, decided the situation was hopeless. He calmed his mind by playing his flute under the moon, and then threw himself into the sea. Yoshitoshi sets Kiyotsune high in the composition, absorbed in his final song. Butterflies, the symbol of the Taira clan, adorn the purple fabric at the front of the ship. In the bottom right corner, the torches of the enemy ships approach, their devastation imminent. 1887 Ref. #: JP1-46978

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51. Lady Gosechi Gosechi no myobu The title of this print can be translated to “Five Festivals,” and refers to the old woman dressed as a nun. The term myobu is a title for a mid-ranking court lady, while Gosechi refers to a series of celebrations held each November at the Imperial palace. In this print, the “Gosechi Lady” plucks the koto, rousing memories of former splendor in the hearts of her audience. As she sits in the ruins of a once grand mansion, it leads to the viewer to wonder if she was at one time a celebrated beauty. Her courtly companions weep as they recall the splendid festivities of bygone days. This print evokes a powerful sense of nostalgia, an emotion keenly felt by Yoshitoshi himself as Japan modernized. 1887 Ref. #: JP1-46977

52. Mt. Tobisu Dawn Moon Tobisuyama gyogetsu: Toda Hanbei Shigeyuki The warrior Toda Hanbei Shigeyuki stands on a hill as the Battle of Mount Tobisu rages. The flags below bear the mon, or crests, of the great families who were involved in the fight. Individual warriors are identified by sashimono, symbols worn on poles attached to their backs. Usually, this symbol was a flag or card with an appropriate emblem. Shigeyuki used a human skull, which likely terrified his enemies. While the title of the print identifies Shigeyuki, some scholars suggest that the figure is actually Sakai Tadatsugu, the general who marched soldiers through the pouring rain to the top of Mount Tobisu. 1887 Ref. #: JP1-46976 | 212.688.0188


53. Sumiyoshi Full Moon: Lord Teika Sumiyoshi no meigetsu: Teikako Sumiyoshi Shrine was dedicated to the god of poetry and located on a scenic beach near presentday Osaka. In this print, Fujiwara no Sadaie, also known as Teika, sleeps soundly on the stairs of the shrine. Perhaps he fell asleep while watching the full moon. As the man’s chin rests on his chest, the god appears in a dream, emerging from the darkness. It was said that this wise deity would appear in dreams or visions to people who visited the shrine, especially if the visitors were also poets. Yoshitoshi emphasizes the mystical nature of the god through the smoky effect of a difficult process called atenashi bokashi, or “borderless printing.” 1887 Ref. #: JP1-46975

54. A Poem by Wang Changling Wang Changling was a Chinese poet active during the 8th century, at the height of the Tang Dynasty. Yoshitoshi illustrates one of his poems: “In the Western Palace the night is still; a hundred flowers perfume the air. I shall roll up the jeweled blinds; I regret the passing of spring, I embrace the peace of the clouds And gaze deeply at the moon, The hazy forms of trees Conceal its bright shadows.” In this print, a stringed instrument rests on the noblewoman’s lap. She cranes her long, elegant neck to the right, perhaps admiring the moonlight. Behind her, a servant rolls up the blinds to let the moonlight pour into the room. 1887 Ref. #: JP1-46974

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55. A Poem by Fukami Jikyu The otokodate were a group of rowdy yet chivalrous townsmen. These vigilantes swaggered about the streets of Edo, showing off their fashionable clothing and defending fellow commoners against overbearing samurai. In this print, the otokodate Fukami Jikyu strikes a bold and prideful pose, carefully calculated to best display the flashy chrysanthemum pattern of his kimono. The black has been burnished, adding to the extravagant nature of the outfit. Cherry blossoms catch the moonlight as they rain through the composition, enhancing the beauty of the scene. Jikyu’s haiku poem in the cartouche implies that although the full moon is very lovely, it is not as handsome as the man himself. 1887 Ref. #: JP1-46973

56. A Poem by Gen’i Maeda no Munehisa was a powerful 16th century priest at Mt. Hiei temple. He is also known by his priestly name, Gen’i. When Oda Nobunga fell to Akechi Mistuhide, Munehisa guarded the life of Nobunga’s son. Rewarded for his loyalty and recognized for his talents, Munehisa received a high office and became a political priest. During his time as governor of Kyoto, Munehisa beautified the city. Yoshitoshi portrays Munehisa in his priestly robes, composing a poem at a low, lacquer and gold table. Overwhelmed by the beauty of the moonlight, he writes: “I usually dislike a cloudy sky tonight I realize that a cloudy sky makes me appreciate the light of the moon.” Yoshitoshi captures the beauty of this moonlight through the overprinted branches of outside and the golden silhouette glowing through the bamboo blinds. 1887 Ref. #: JP1-46972 | 212.688.0188


57. Reading by Moonlight: Zi Luo Dokusho no tsuki: Shiraku Zi Luo was a Chinese philosopher, known in Japan as Shiraku. He is one of the Twenty-Four Paragons of Filial Piety in China. Though he came from a poor family, he loyally worked as a porter to support his aging parents. In this print, Yoshitoshi combines Zi Luo’s dedication to his parents and his love of learning. Dressed in tattered clothing, Zi Luo carries a heavy bag of rice over his shoulder. In his other hand, he holds a book, satisfying his passion to better himself while he journeys home. 1888 Ref. #: JP1-46971

58. A Poem by Yorimasa Minamoto Yorimasa was a 12th century warrior and accomplished poet. The Tale of Heike recounts his defeat of the nue, a monster with the body of a badger, the face of a monkey, the paws of a tiger, and a tail tipped with a snake’s head. In gratitude, the emperor presented Yorimasa with a famous sword. As the Minister of the Left descended the palace steps to hand Yorimasa the sword, a cuckoo called. Inspired, the minister recited half of a poem: “A cuckoo crying winging swiftly through the clouds celebrates his name.” Yorimasa knelt, looked up at the crescent moon, and humbly responded: “The arrow sought its own way/ as the crescent moon went dark.” 1888 Ref. #: JP1-46970

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59. In the Moonlight Under the Trees a Beautiful Woman Comes Getsumei rinka bijin mairu Under the brilliant light of the full moon, a lovely lady in Chinese dress and hairstyle stands beside a flowering plum tree. She holds a fan in her right hand and demurely raises her left to cover her mouth with her sleeve. She is the spirit of the plum tree, a popular theme in Chinese painting. The seven-character inscription, which simply describes this charming print, is in the form of a line of classical Chinese poetry, though the poet has not been identified. Yoshitoshi depicts the woman in the traditional Tang standard of beauty. Her outer robe is heavily embossed. 1888 Ref. #: JP1-46969

60. Received Back into Moon Palace: Bamboo Cutter Gekkyu no mukae: Taketori In this famous fairytale, an old bamboo cutter discovered a tiny baby girl inside of a hollow bamboo stem. He took her home to his wife, where the child grew into a beautiful young woman in a miraculously short time. Her name was Kaguyahime, “Shining Princess.� Many suitors courted her, but she gave each an impossible task and each was defeated. When the emperor heard of her beauty, he asked for her hand in marriage. Finally, Kaguyahime revealed that she had come from the moon to answer the old couple’s desire for a child, but that she must now leave them and return to her home. Yoshitoshi depicts her heavenly ascent. The bamboo cutter has fallen to his knees as he begs her not to go, arms raised in his plea. Kaguyahime rises on a cloud, but her face reveals her hesitation to leave her earthly family. 1888 Ref. #: JP1-46968 | 212.688.0188


61. Gojo Bridge Moon: Yoshitsune Gojobashi no tsuki This print shows Minamoto no Yoshitsune soaring through the air during his famous duel with Benkei at Gojo Bridge. Although Yoshitsune was still very young at the time, he defeated the ferocious Benkei, who then became his most faithful follower. The story tells that Benkei waited in the shadows at this bridge to steal the swords of all who crossed. One evening, seventeen-year-old Yoshitsune approached the bridge playing his flute, his fine sword on his hip. Benkei expected a quick victory, yet Yoshitsune proved an undefeatable opponent and Benkei admitted defeat. Yoshitoshi captures Yoshitsune’s talent for martial arts, depicting the young warrior in mid-air. 1888 Ref. #: JP1-46967

62. Moon of Enlightenment: Hotei Godo no tsuki Hotei is the god of good fortune and happiness and the most popular of the Seven Gods of Luck. He is often depicted as a jolly fat man in untidy clothing carrying a huge bag of treasures. Hotei is identified with the 10th century Chinese priest Chixi, who wandered about the country carrying his belongings in a linen bag. Many people believed that this carefree, wandering priest was in fact an incarnation of Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future. Yoshitoshi has titled the work “Moon of Enlightenment,” referring to the wonder felt by Hotei at the sight of the full moon. 1888 Ref. #: JP1-46966

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63. The Moon of the Moor: Yasumasa Harano no tsuki: Yasumasa Fujiwara no Yasumasa was a renowned musician in the Heian court. As he made his way home one evening, playing his flute, his wicked brother Hakamadare Yasusuke (also known as Kidomaru) began to follow him. Yasusuke planned to attack his brother and steal his robes, yet he was so charmed by the beautiful music of the flute that he abandoned his evil intentions. In this print, dark clouds obscure the moon as Yasusuke creeps through the susuki grass. Yasumasa’s posture sways with the tune of his flute. Yoshitoshi also illustrated this tale as a triptych. 1888 Ref. #: JP1-46965

64. A Poem by Abe no Nakamaro In the 8th century, Abe no Nakamaro was sent on a mission to China. There he composed a poem expressing his homesickness: “Behold, the moon now rises the same moon the people find At Kasuga town, my home, appear From old Mt. Mikasa, behind.” In one version of the story, Nakamaro composed this poem after the Chinese had locked him into a high tower to starve. A more pleasant and plausible version says that he composed the poem at a farewell party given by his Chinese friends before he returned to Japan. In this print, Nakamaro, wearing a Japanese courtier’s cap, and another man, with Chinese clothes and fan, admire the moon from a high balcony. 1888 Ref. #: JP1-46958 | 212.688.0188


65. Katada Bay Moon: Saito Kuranosuke Katadaura no tsuki: Saito Kuranosuke Once Toyotomi Hideyoshi defeated Mitsuhide’s forces at Yamazaki, Saito Kuranosuke and his son, Toshimitsu, fled to Katada in Omi province. They hid in the home of his former nurse. Kuranosuke fell ill with a high fever and was captured by his enemies in this helpless condition. He was executed at Awataguchi and his son became a monk. In the quiet light of the full moon, Kuranosuke looks over his shoulder to the place where he will meet his end. The horse casts its eyes up towards its master, expressing the same uneasiness gnawing at Kuranosuke. Lake Biwa reflects the silver moonlight in the background of this ominous scene. 1888 Ref. #: JP1-46956

66. Shizu Peak Moon: Hideyoshi Shizugatake no tsuki: Hideyoshi Toyotomi Hideyoshi was a military leader and gifted politician, widely considered to be one of the greatest heroes in Japanese history. He unified Japan after years of civil war and even tried to invade China. Hideyoshi served under Oda Nobunaga until Nobunaga was assassinated in 1582. A struggle followed to determine his successor. At Shizugatake, Hideyoshi defeated his rivals and became the most powerful man in Japan. Yoshitoshi presents the hero in full armor on the shore of Lake Biwa, moments before his decisive morning attack. Hideyoshi’s iconic helmet bursts through the right margin of the composition. He uses a giant shell as a war trumpet, sounding the attack. The dawn moon sets behind Shizugatake Hill, its pale reflection lighting the water. 1888 Ref. #: JP1-46952

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67. Joganden Moon: Minamoto no Tsunemoto Joganden no tsuki: Minamoto no Tsunemoto Minamoto no Tsunemoto was a courtier who saved the life of Emperor Shujaku. One evening, a demonic stag with red eyes and a mouth full of dagger-like teeth appeared on the roof of the Joganden Palace in Kyoto. When it threatened the emperor on his evening stroll, Tsunemoto shot the monster down with a single arrow. Yoshitoshi presents the stag at the moment of impact; the archer’s hand is still drawn back, the deer’s head has yet to hit the ground. The animal lacks the demonic nature described in the story and appears as a harmless young stag. Tsunemoto stands strong beneath the falling autumn leaves, dynamic in his posture. While the warrior’s face is turned away from the viewer, the deer’s dark eye catches the moonlight. 1888 Ref. #: JP1-46950

68. Moon of the Southern Sea (The White-robed Kannon) Nankai no tsuki The merciful bodhisattva Kannon (Guanyin in Chinese) appears in many different forms, both male and female. She is a manifestation of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, whose original Indian form was male. Yet, in China and Japan, Kannon is usually female. In this print, Kannon sits on the island with her vase of healing water behind her; the willow branch used to apply the water is placed in the vase. Yoshitoshi contrasts the serenity of the white-robed goddess with the violence of the waves breaking around the rock where she sits. The moon, obscured by angry black clouds, is dwarfed by the warm, inviting radiance of Kannon’s halo. 1888 Ref. #: JP1-46948 | 212.688.0188


69. Seson Temple Moon: Captain Yoshitaka Sesonji no tsuki: Shosho Yoshitaka Fujiwara Yoshitaka was a courtier and an accomplished poet. His works are included in the famous anthology, One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets. He was a very devout Buddhist and wanted to become a monk, but family responsibilities prevented him from doing so. Yoshitaka died in a smallpox epidemic when he was only twenty-one years old. In this print, the handsome, melancholy young man almost seems to be aware of his impending death. Yoshitoshi presents the ill-fated courtier on the grounds of Sesonji, a small temple outside of Kyoto. The minimalistic background amplifies Yoshitaka’s loneliness. 1888 Ref. #: JP1-46947

70. Mount Ashigara Moon: Yoshimitsu Ashigarayama no tsuki: Yoshimitsu Yoshimitsu was musician as well as a warrior. He studied the sho, a mouth organ made of bamboo, with Toyowara Tokimoto. Tokimoto taught his student his musical secrets, but died before he could pass them on to his son Tokiaki. When Yoshimitsu left for battle against Kiyowara family in 1087, he noticed that Tokiaki was following him. Yoshimitsu urged Tokiaki to return home, but the young man refused. Finally, Yoshimitsu realized that Tokiaki wanted to learn the his father’s musical secrets. The pair stopped at Mount Ashigara and Yoshimitsu taught Tokiaki the songs of his father. Satisfied, Tokiaki returned home. In this print, Yoshimitsu holds his precious instrument to his lips as a tree trunk cuts a dramatic diagonal through the composition. 1889 Ref. #: JP1-46946

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71. Ishiyama Moon (Lady Murasaki) Ishiyama no tsuki Born around 978, Murasaki Shikibu is the author of the world’s first novel, Genji Monogatari or “The Tale of Genji.” This epic follows the romantic exploits of the shining prince Genji. The tale was enormously popular in her lifetime, influencing art, literature, and poetry and continues to be read today. Yoshitoshi portrays Lady Murasaki at Ishiyama, where she is said to have written The Tale of Genji. She sits on the temple’s veranda under the full moon. A blank scroll is unrolled on her desk as she gazes beyond the rocky cliffs, waiting for a spark of inspiration. 1889 Ref. #: JP1-46945

72. Mount Miyaji Moon: Moronaga Miyajiyama no tsuki: Moronaga Fujiwara Moronaga was a statesman known for his musical skills. During the turbulent political climate of the 13th century, he was banished from the capital on two occasions: once to the island of Shikoku and once to Owari. Fortunately, his poetic sensibilities enabled him to enjoy views of the moon from such rustic spots. In this print, he plays his biwa, or lute, as the moon peeks under the auburn foliage. An anonymous woman listens to Moronaga’s song. Completely absorbed in his playing, he is unaware of his audience. While the woman’s robes rustle in the breeze, his inner tranquility is reflected in the stillness of the moment. Yet, his unkempt hair reminds the viewer of his exile. 1889 Ref. #: JP1-46944 | 212.688.0188


73. Jade Rabbit: Sun Wukong Gyokuto: Songoku Songoku, the Monkey King, or Sun Wukong in Chinese, is the hero of the Chinese novel The Journey to the West. He was a mischievous deity whose pranks wreaked havoc in Heaven. To atone for his misdeeds, he was assigned to serve as a bodyguard for a pious monk travelling between China and India carrying the Buddhist scriptures. In this print, Songoku holds his iron spear, cavorting with another legendary animal, the Jade Rabbit. According to Chinese tradition, this immortal rabbit can be seen silhouetted against the full moon. 1889 Ref. #: JP1-46943

74. A Poem About a Broken Bucket The full moon was traditionally considered to be even more beautiful when it was seen reflected in water. In this print, Yoshitoshi presents the famous 18th century haiku poet, calligrapher and painter Chiyo in an elaborate kimono, her spilled water reflecting the pale autumn moonlight. While trying to capture the reflection of the moon, the bucket fell and broke. The anonymous poem written in the cartouche describes her plight: the broken bucket will not hold water, much less, contain the moon. 1889 Ref. #: JP1-46942

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75. A Poem by Hidetsugu Toyotomi Hideyoshi conquered all of Japan at the end of the 16th century, but did not have an heir for many years. He therefore adopted his sister’s son and gave him the name Hidetsugu. The relationship quickly soured. Within two years, a true heir was born to Hideyoshi and he turned against his adopted son. Hideyoshi imprisoned the unfortunate young man in a temple and eventually had him killed. Here, Hidetsugu is shown reflecting on his unhappy fate. The poem describes the melancholy sight of the autumn moon seen through a window with bamboo bars. He sits upon an extravagant piece of fabric, head bowed in contemplation. To the left of the composition, a retainer waits by his master. 1889 Ref. #: JP1-46941

76. The Moon of Shinobugaoka Shinobugaoka no tsuki: Gyokuensai Shinobugaoka was known for its cherry trees. Visitors would flock to the area to enjoy the transient beauty of the sakura blossoms in early spring. Known today as Ueno Park in northeast Tokyo, the area continues to be a blossom-viewing destination. Admiring cherry blossoms was a favorite spring pastime during the Edo period. Kimono would be attached to trees to create temporary enclosures where people could enjoy a picnic as they gazed at the sakura. In this print, the young samurai, Gyokuensai, stands beneath a cherry tree on a blustery moonlit night. The breeze flips the edge of the hanging kimono to reveal an ornate lacquered picnic box, but the man appears to be alone. As pale petals swirl in the light of the crescent moon, they represent fleeting beauty. Gyokuensai looks over his shoulder, clad in a beautifully printed black-onblack patterned kimono. 1889 Ref. #: JP1-46940 | 212.688.0188


77. Lunacy: Fumihiroge Tsuki no monogurui: Fumihiroge In this print, Yoshitoshi tells the sad tale of Ochiyo, a servant woman in a noble household who was deeply in love. When she received news of her lover’s death, she went mad and eventually died of grief. Before her death, she walked around the city rereading his love letters until they turned to tatters. In Yoshitoshi’s imagining of the tale, the crescent moon crowns just above a cloud, casting a faint, eerie light on this haunting scene. Ochiyo’s long hair hangs loose and unkempt, her kimono disheveled, and her feet bare as she stands alone on a ghostly bridge. Her expression is blank, possessed by grief, while the long letter writhes through the air. 1889 Ref. #: JP1-46939

78. Rainy Moon: Kojima Takanori Uchu no tsuki: Kojima Takanori Kojima Takanori was a 14th century nobleman who assisted Emperor Go-Daigo in his revolt against the ruling Hojo family. Their first attempt failed and Go-Daigo was exiled. Takanori tried to intercept the emperor, but his efforts were unsuccessful. Determined, he disguised himself as a peasant with a straw raincoat and hat and went to the inn where Go-Daigo was spending the night. He could not see the emperor, but he did get into the back garden. There he peeled some of the bark off of a cherry tree and wrote an encouraging message in the form of a Chinese poem. The next morning, the emperor saw the poem and drew strength from this message of encouragement. Yoshitoshi depicts the loyal soldier beneath the budding cherry tree, praying for the emperor in the falling rain. 1889 Ref. #: JP1-46938

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79. Dawn Moon and Tumbling Snow Seppu no gyogetsu: Kobayashi Heihachiro This print illustrates a scene from the final act of the kabuki drama Chushingura. After eighteen months of planning, the plot of the 47 ronin to avenge their lord culminates in a night attack on the mansion of Moronao, the man responsible for their master’s death. However, Moronao’s followers remain dutiful to him and the snow-covered garden of the mansion becomes a bloody battlefield. Yoshitoshi depicts Kobayashi Heihachiro, a retainer of the villain Moronao. In the play, Kobayashi valiantly defends the entrance to Moronao’s room until the young Rikiya defeats him in a spectacular fight beside the frozen pond. Kobayashi knows his death is imminent, yet he fights with unwavering courage. 1889 Ref. #: JP1-46937

80. The Moon of the Filial Son Koshi no tsuki: Ono no Takamura Cheng Shen was an important disciple of Confucius. He is often credited with compiling the list of the Twenty-Four Paragons of Filial Piety, on which he included himself. One day, when he was gathering firewood in the hills, he felt a strange urge to return home at once. When he arrived, he found that his old mother required his presence and had bitten her finger in frustration at not being able to call him. Telepathically, her need had been communicated to her dutiful son. Yoshitoshi depicts the loyal son gathering wood, head lifted from his task as he feels his mothers call. In the distance, his home is nestled into the landscape. 1889 Ref. #: JP1-46936 | 212.688.0188


81. The Moon at the Red Cliffs Sekiheki no tsuki This work illustrates a pair of famous poems by the Chinese poet Su Dongpo, the “First and Second Odes on the Red Cliffs.” In 1082, the poet and his friends set out to view the Red Cliffs on the Yangtze River. Centuries ago, the great leader Cao Cao was defeated beneath these looming cliffs. The emotions aroused by the sight of the moonlight on the water and the memories of heroes long dead are beautifully described in these famous poems. Su Dongpo, also known as Su Shi, was a member of the Chinese literati during the Song dynasty. Members of this group were court officials that were also identified by their amateur talent in poetry, painting, and calligraphy. The story of the Red Cliffs was a popular artistic subject for this group. 1889 Ref. #: JP1-46935

82. Uesugi Kenshin Uesugi Terutora was a powerful 16th century warrior. When his older brother appeared too weak to lead the clan, he usurped him. Terutora took priest vows at a young age, a common practice for feudal lords at this time, and adopted the name Kenshin. He led his family in many great military campaigns, declaring war on both Takeda Shingen and the Hojo clan of Odawara. He even dared to attack Oda Nobunaga, the most powerful man in Japan at the time, but died of illness before this bold campaign concluded. In this print, Kenshin wears full armor with a priest’s headdress in place of a helmet. As he sits on a deerskin, he watches geese fly into the distance and composes a poem. 1890 Ref. #: JP1-46934

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83. Akashi Gidayu Akashi Gidayu served as a general for Akechi Mitsuhide. Following a complete defeat of his forces, he offered to commit seppuku, an honorable death by suicide, to pay for his failure. Though his master refused, Gidayu was so overcome by shame that he disobeyed his master’s command and killed himself. Yoshitoshi presents Gidayu in his final moments. His death poem is before him, knife unsheathed. His hair is disheveled and the tiger painted on the screen glares reproachfully at Gidayu, its yellow eyes aware of his desperate shame. According to the poem, he feels that even the moon in the sky is mocking his despair. Once again, Yoshitoshi portrays the emotional struggle of this individual rather than the violent act that soon follows. 1890 Ref. #: JP1-46933

84. Cloth-Beating Moon: Yugiri Kinuta no tsuki: Yugiri In the noh play Kinuta, Cloth Beating, a man who has been away from Kyoto for three years sends his maid, Yugiri, back to his home to tell his wife that he will soon return. Yugiri arrives in Kyoto and tries to comfort the lonely wife. The two hear the sound of cloth being beaten, a sound that recalls a famous poem about a wife missing her husband. In an effort to comfort the lady of the house, Yugiri begins to beat cloth with a wooden mallet to make it soft. As the wife joins in this task, she wonders whether the wind will carry the mournful sound through the autumn night to her distant husband. In Yoshitoshi’s imagining of this scene, the two women are disconnected; the lady of the house is completely absorbed in her task, while Yugiri sits respectfully behind her. 1890 Ref. #: JP1-46932 | 212.688.0188


85. The Moon of the Lonely House Hitotsuya no tsuki A wicked old woman lived in the lonely house, hitotsu-ya, at Asajigahara in the Musashi Plain. She was known to take in weary travellers for the night, which she would subsequently rob and kill. Ultimately, the old woman’s daughter sacrificed herself in order to save a traveller. This self-sacrifice made the old woman realize her wickedness and change her ways. The haunting tale of the lonely house was dramatized across many stages, producing several different versions of the story. In one telling of the tale, the daughter falls in love with the traveller, in another, the traveller turns out to be the Bodhisattva Kannon in disguise. 1890 Ref. #: JP1-46931

86. Taira no Tadanori One night, Taira no Tadanori went to pay a moonlit visit to his mistress, Kiku no Ma, but he was disappointed to find that she had a guest. After waiting many hours for the guest to leave, he began to fan himself impatiently as he paced back and forth outside the house. Kiku heard his frustrated fanning and recited a famous poem: “Ah, how loudly sounds as if the wild plain were small— The hum of insects. I have many things to say, but I will remain silent.” When he heard the poem, Tadanori left. In this print, Tadanori tries to peek into the softly illuminated room. Fan anxiously in hand, he leans forward, listening for some recognition of his presence by his mistress. His stance expresses his impatience. 1890 Ref. #: JP1-46930 50 | 212.688.0188

87. Moon of Kintoki’s Mountain Kintokiyama no tsuki Kintoki (also called Kintaro) was a famous Japanese hero. He was known for his brilliantly red skin and incredible strength. Yamauba, the “Mountain Woman,” raised Kintoki after his father abandoned him in the Ashigara Moutains. Yoshitoshi depicts a scene from Kintoki’s boyhood. As a child, the mountain animals were his playmates. In this print, he officiates at a wrestling match between the hare and the monkey on a moonlit night. A persimmon branch rests between Kintoki and his friends, perhaps suggesting the mischievous monkey stole the fruits of immortality. The rabbit’s fur is beautifully embossed. 1890 Ref. #: JP1-46929

88. A Summer Evening This tranquil scene of country life depicts a peasant couple relaxing with their baby. They sit on a straw mat under a trellis overgrown with vines of the night-blooming hechima, also known as “moonflowers.” After a day of hard work, they enjoy the evening and sip sake that has been warmed in a teapot. The inscribed poem describes their pleasure in the cool evening, the flowers, and the beautiful moon overhead. Yoshitoshi presents this informal scene of peasant life with great sensitivity. The sagging shoulder of the woman’s slip suggests that she is nursing her child, while the man reclines in the evening breeze. 1890 Ref. #: JP1-46928 | 212.688.0188


89. Moon at Horin Temple: Yokobue Horinji no tsuki: Yokobue A young 12th century noble named Tokiyori fell in love with Yokobue, a lady-in-waiting of the empress. When his father forbid their union due to her low rank, Tokiyori could not bring himself to disobey his father or marry another woman so, at the age of nineteen, he became a monk at Horin Temple. Yokobue journeyed to the mountain temple, hoping to change his mind. Tokiyori heard her sobs, but he refused to see her, afraid that he would lose his determination to become a monk. Yokobue was turned away and later became a nun herself. In this print, Yokobue leaves the temple, hands clasped and wiping her unremitting tears with her arm. In the distance, two intertwined trees symbolize two lovers, but fade into the mist along with Yokobue’s hope for happiness. 1890 Ref. #: JP1-46927

90. Kazan Temple Moon Kazanji no tsuki In this print, Yoshitoshi portrays seventeen-yearold Kazan, the sixty-fifth emperor of Japan who ruled from 985 to 987. He was so distressed by the death of his beloved consort that he abdicated the throne and became a priest at Gangyo Temple. This temple has since been renamed in his honor. Yoshitoshi depicts the young emperor on his evening journey to the temple, accompanied by only one retainer. Kazan wears his courtly hat and a luxurious kimono as he stands beside a cryptomeria tree, a royal symbol. His downturned eyes convey his overwhelming sense of loss, while the minimal background accentuates his loneliness. 1890 Ref. #: JP1-46926

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91. The Moon on Musashi Plain Musashino no tsuki The former Musashi Plain is now a suburb of Tokyo, but centuries ago, the area was known for its views of the moon and its magic foxes. These animals play a special role in Japanese folklore. They are loyal messengers of the Shinto god Inari, but also sly tricksters that enjoyed playing practical jokes on hapless humans. They can assume human form, like the priest in the print “Cry of the Fox,” (see #13), often transforming into beautiful women. In this print, a fox admires its reflection in the water, perhaps in preparation to transform itself into one such beauty. Yoshitoshi delicately expresses its moonlit reflection as heavy fog settles on the bank. The work presents the standard iconography of Musashi Plain—the large moon, the windswept grass, and the open sky—while heightening the mystery of the scene through the presence of the fox. 1891 Ref. #: JP1-46925

92. Moon at Sarugaku Sarugaku no tsuki Sarugaku was a comic form of performance filled with song and dance during the 10th century. By the 15th century, the art form had developed into noh, with its comedic interludes called kyogen. This print appears to show people on their way to such a performance. High-ranking persons, such as the gentleman in the foreground, could watch the show from a raised veranda, while lower-ranking people, such as the men in the background, had to watch from the ground. The latter group is carrying umbrellas in case of rain. While the samurai is static and composed like noh, the active bodies and animated faces of the peasants mirror the informality of kyogen. 1891 Ref. #: JP1-46924 | 212.688.0188


93. Buddhist Monk Receives Cassia Seeds on a Moonlit Night Bonso tsukiyo ni keishi o uku A priest holds up his begging bowl to catch the seeds that fall from the cassia trees on the moon. These seeds possessed the gift of immortality and invisibility. The priest’s facial features, earrings, and distinctive clothing indicate that he is an Arhat (in Japanese, Rakan), a disciple of Buddha who has achieved enlightenment. These Buddhist saints are popular subjects in both Chinese and Japanese art. Though the glowing circle appears to be the moon, it is in fact the Arhat’s glowing halo. It is the cassia seeds that allude to the moon in this print. 1891 Ref. #: JP1-46923

94. A Poem by Mizuki Tatsunosuke After 1629, all female kabuki roles were played by onnagata, male actors who specialized in female roles. These actors practiced feminine mannerisms and dress both onstage and off. They were widely considered more graceful than real women. Mizuki Tatsunosuke was a particularly famous onnagata of the late 17th century. Yoshitoshi presents the elegant man on a moonlit stroll beneath the blossoming cherry trees. All actors were required to shave off their forelocks, lest their beauty corrupt public morality, so the actor wears a purple scarf to hide his shaven head. He holds a fan in one hand and a poem card in the other. The poem reads: “Over the Sumida River Lined with blooming cherry trees Temple bells are tolling. As the dusk deepens I admire the moon.” 1891 Ref. #: JP1-46922 54 | 212.688.0188

95. The Moon’s Invention: Hozo Temple Tsuki no hatsumei: Hozoin Kakuzenbo Hoin In-ei was a 16th century priest of Nara who founded a school of fencing at Hozo Temple. He was originally a member of the noble family Nakamikado and his descendants carried on the martial tradition of their ancestor well into the 19th century. In this print, Yoshitoshi imagines the creation of Hoin’s most famous invention: the kamayari or “sickle spear” As he gazes into the placid water, he finds inspiration reflected. The crescent moon perches upon his spear resembling the form the popular 16th century weapon. Yoshitoshi renders the priest with a kind face, but leave no question about his strength. 1891 Ref. #: JP1-46921

96. Chofu Village Moon Chofu sato no tsuki In this peaceful rural scene, a pair of women beat cloth in a mortar. The newly woven fabric was washed in the river, pounded with wooden mallets until soft, and then laid out to dry on the riverbank. Chofu village was known for its high-quality cloth. The word tsuki-mono, or “tribute cloth,” refers to the hand-made cloth that the village sent as a yearly tribute to the imperial court. The moon in the sky indicates that the title is a pun: tsuki can mean either “tribute” or “moon.” 1891 Ref. #: JP1-46920 | 212.688.0188


97. The Moon at Obasute-yama Obasute no tsuki The name Obasute-yama means “The Mountain Where Old Women are Abandoned” and refers to a centuries old custom in Nagano province. When old people became too much of a burden, they would be carried into the mountains and left to die. This harsh practice inspired a noh play called Obasute, in which a man from the capital visits the mountain and the ghost of the forsaken old lady appears to him. The gnarled old pine tree and the half-hidden moon give this print a melancholy feeling. Yoshitoshi presents a peasant carrying an old woman to her death, but the figures are distant, expressionless, and secondary to the ancient pine that cuts through the composition. 1891 Ref. #: JP1-46919

98. The Moon’s Four Strings: Semimaru Tsuki no yotsu no o: Semimaru Semimaru was a blind poet and musician of the 10th century who was banished to a small cottage near Osaka. Though his life story has several versions, Yoshitoshi does not indicate a particular telling of Semimaru’s life in this print. The musician strums his lute with a plectrum, head cocked in concentration. The moonlight reveals his thinning hair and the dilapidated state of his cottage, but these things do not concern him. His sole companion is his beloved lute, on which he plays melodies of indescribable sweetness, whose okugi, or inner mystery, he alone possesses. 1891 Ref. #: JP1-46918

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99. The Moon at Saga Sagano no Tsuki The beautiful musician, Kogo no Tsubone, was a favorite of the 12th century emperor, Go-Shirakawa. Empress Kenreimonin became fierce with jealousy and sought advice from her father, Kiyomori. He ordered that Tsubone be poisoned, so she fled from the court. The emperor sent the courtier Nakakuni, another musician, to find Tsubone and return her to Kyoto. One night, Nakakuni heard familiar koto music emerging from a small house in Saga. He responded by playing a tune on his flute and convinced the lady to return to court. In this print, Yoshitoshi depicts the musicians’ call and response. Nakakuni has dismounted his horse to play his flute, while Tsubone can be seen within the house, bent over her koto. 1891 Ref. #: JP1-46917

100. A Wandering Poet During the Edo period, haiku poets often travelled the country in search of inspiration. In this print, Yoshitoshi depicts the famous poet Matsuo Basho, sometimes known as the “old man.” Born into a samurai family, Basho left home at 22 years old to live on a riverbank in Edo and focus on his poetry. Basho traveled throughout Japan, drawing inspiration from its people, customs, and history. Meeting people along the road was one of the pleasures of travel. Here, the travelling poet has come upon a group of farmers celebrating the festival of the harvest moon. A table is decorated with flowers symbolizing autumn. They have spread a straw mat in front of the table and invite the poet to join them for tea and cakes as they enjoy the full moon. 1891 Ref. #: JP1-46916 | 212.688.0188


Bibliography Keyes, Roger S., and George Kuwayama. The Bizarre Imagery of Yoshitoshi: The Herbert R. Cole Collection. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1980. Print. Ronin Gallery. 100 Views of the Moon by Yoshitoshi Taiso. New York: Ronin Gallery, 1978. Print. Segi, Shin’ichi. Yoshitoshi: The Splendid Decadent. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1985. Print. Stevenson, John. Yoshitoshi’s One Hundred Aspects of the Moon. San Francisco Graphic Society, 1992. Print. Uhlenbeck, Chris, Amy Reigle. Newland, Ed Freis. Yoshitoshi: Masterpieces from the Ed Freis Collection. Leiden: Hotei, 2011. Print. van den Ing, Eric , and Robert Schaap. Beauty and Violence: Japanese Prints by Yoshitoshi, 18391892. Havilland Press, 1992. Print.

RONIN GALLERY 425 Madison Ave New York, NY 10017 212.688.0188 Chairman: Herbert Libertson President: David Libertson Executive Director: Roni Neuer Director: Tomomi Seki Assistant Director: Travis Suzaka Research Associate: Madison Folks Gallery Assistant: Sayaka Ueno For additional information on any print, please visit

RONIN GALLERY 425 Madison Ave. New York, NY 10017 The Largest Collection of Japanese Prints in the U.S. Japanese and East Asian Contemporary Art

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The One Hundred Views of the Moon: Yoshitoshi  

Celebrate the Harvest Moon in the fantastical realm of half-glimpsed apparitions of mesmerizing beauty. Yoshitoshi's exceptional series "The...

The One Hundred Views of the Moon: Yoshitoshi  

Celebrate the Harvest Moon in the fantastical realm of half-glimpsed apparitions of mesmerizing beauty. Yoshitoshi's exceptional series "The...