two books illustrated by hokusai

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  • 8/13/2019 Two Books Illustrated by Hokusai


    Two Books Illustrated by HokusaiAuthor(s): T. VolkerReviewed work(s):Source: Artibus Asiae, Vol. 20, No. 1 (1957), pp. 61-65Published by: Artibus Asiae PublishersStable URL: .Accessed: 23/09/2012 07:18

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  • 8/13/2019 Two Books Illustrated by Hokusai




    n the National Museum of Ethnology at Leyden there is a set of key-blocks (of which onlya few have perished due to decay) cut for Ehon kydka ama mata yama, a book illustrated

    with colour-prints from designs by Hokusai. The blocks were brought to Holland by VonSiebold in 183o and must have been acquired between 1823 and I829, the period of Von Sie-bold's stay in Japan.

    Of this book Louise Norton BrownI says,

    The Yama Mata Yama s one of Hokusai's rarest colour-printed books and is generally considered thefinest, although just why it should be so ranked s puzzling, for neither in composition, colour, nor printingdoes it compare with the three volumes of the Sumidagawa set in which some of Hokusai's very best work

    appears. 2 And, Ehon Kydka Yama Mata Yama: Verses on mountains upon mountains. 3 vols. 1803 or I804.Colours.

    Kenji Toda in the Catalogue of the Ryerson Collections says,

    A picture-book of Ky6ka. Range after Range of Mountains. Katsushika Hokusai, artist. 3 Vols., com-

    plete, 25 x 17 1/ cm. Sheets numbered. Publisher, and date of publication not given. Vol. I: i 2 sheets; i i il-

    lustrations. Vol. II: io sheets; ix illustrations. Vol. III: i o sheets; last sheet not numbered; i o illustrations.All illustrations in colour.There are differences of opinion in regard to the date of publication of this book, but the inscription

    'Ky6wa 3, Boar Year', given on the festival flag of the Gion-e (illustration 4, vol. II) seems at least to indi-cate the year in which Hokusai made these illustrations. The publication has been attributed to TsutayaJ izabur6.

    There need be no uncertainty about the date of publication of this book for in the colophonof a copy acquired by the Museum in 1949 it is clearly stated that the book was published be-ginning of spring Ky6wa IV, i. e. 1804, by Tsutaya Jfisabur6. Incidentally this copy was pu-

    x Louise Norton Brown, Block Printing and Book llustration n Japan, London 1924. Pages 18o0 nd 181.2 I do not agree with this author's verdict on the quality of Ehon ky'kayama matayama. As far as it is based on colour

    and printing, so much depends on individual copies that it is near-impossible to be apodictic about them. As far asthe verdict is based on composition, in my opinion the book compares very favourably with Ehon sumidagawa. t has agreat amount of dignity and repose in its composition and shows a masterful harmony in the handling of lines andplanes. But then, why compare them at all? They were conceived on different lines. The Sumidagawa-set gives a kindof panorama of the great river and the Yama matayama gives a selection of special places and allusions thereto. Hokusaiwas far more free in his subject here and as a result the effect is very pleasing though Ehon sumidagawa s by no means tobe despised.

    3 Kenji Toda, The Ryerson Collection, Chicago, 1931, page 241.


  • 8/13/2019 Two Books Illustrated by Hokusai


    blished in one volume instead of three which seems to have been the usual way, regardinganother opy in the Museum ollection and the copies mentioned y Brown and Toda.4

    It is, moreover, nteresting hat this copy has been in the possession of several Ukiyoemasters as it bears he seals of Toyoharu, Chikayoshi, Kunisada nd Kunichika. t has alsobeen in the possession of Hayashi and of Louis Gonse.

    That the book is rare s perhaps nderstandable or the blocks were sold or given away oVon Siebold who may have acquired them directly from Edo or from someone who had ac-quired hem previously t Edo from Tsutaya's state. t is even possible hat Hokusai himselfgot possession of them after he decline of the business under Jflsabur6's ead-clerk, nd thathe sold or gave them to Von Siebold for whom Hokusai and his pupils have worked on severaloccasions.

    As to the blocks, many of them are still in good condition.sOne day, comparing them with the pages of the book, I found on the reverse of the blocks

    for leaves 19, left half, and 20 right half (Repr. and II) two engravings or prints not used nthe book (Repr. III and IV). I have puzzled over this, thinking of designs commissioned andengraved, but not used, and of some other book. The latter became rue for I came upon acopy of Thto bdkei chiranwhich had been in the Van Overmeer Fischer Collection made nJapan, also between 1823 and 1829.

    There I found the prints these engravings were made for, the left half of Nihonbashi (Vol.I i. 6) and the right half of Kameido Tenshin (Vol. I i. 7). According to this copy, the bookwas published in Kansei 12, 80oo, by Suwaraya M6hei and Suwaraya Ihachi in Edo, and inBunka 12, 1815, by Hishiya Kimbei at Nagoya, gak5 Hokusai Shinsei, cbhdk, And6 Enshi.6On the original blue wrapper of the book the title is mentioned and on a separate, also blue,label, Gaky6jin Hokusai no fude.

    Kenji Toda says of this book,7Tdto shdkei ichiran. Fine views of the Eastern Capital at a Glance. Katsushika Hokusai, artist. Signed:

    Hokusai Shinsei. And6 Enshi, engraver. Edo, Tsutaya Jizabur6, publisher. Kansei 12, I800. 2 vols., com-

    plete 26 x 17 cm. Sheets numbered. Vol. I: io sheets, xo illustrations. Vol. II: xx sheets, numbered i1-2o,ix illustrations. The illustrations are printed in colour. The pictures show human elements rather than views.Names of the places, and Ky6ka, accompany the illustrations. And, T6to sh6kei ichiran(a). Duplicate ofthe foregoing. Probably a later edition, with the names of Suharaya M6hei, and Ihachi, added as publishers.The colours superior to the other edition.

    4 If Nakata Katsunosuke is right there must have been a second, and contemporary, edition of Yama matayama, for onpage 99 of his Ehon no Kenkyu e says: Yama matayama, hree volumes, Bunka I, publisher Yamada Sanshir6. It is apity that he did not document his statement and so we cannot know if there has not been a confusion with some otherbook illustrated by Hokusai.

    That the Tsutaya edition mentions Ky6wa 4 is an indication that the book in this edition was prepared for publica-tion, at the end of 1803 probably, for the spring of next year, when it was not yet known that the reign-name was tobe changed into Bunka beginning with Febr. i ith 1804.

    s See T. Volker, Ukiyo-e Quartet, Leiden, 1949, illustration facing p. 19 and the reproductions accompanying these notes.6 According to Yoshida Teruji's Ukiyo-e iten, Tokyo, 1944, And6 Enshi was a chdshi master engraver) of the Temmei

    and Kansei periods, 1781-i8oo (though apparently he was still working in Ky6wa, 18o1-1803 and the beginning ofBunka, 1804). His name appears on Katsukawa Shunch6's K6y6 ky6 and it is recorded that he was also the engraver forHokusai's Ky6ka ehon AZuma asobi , published Kansei II (1799) and for his Tdto meisho sic. See also footnote Io)ichiran, published Kansei 12, 1800.

    7 Op. cit., page 236.


  • 8/13/2019 Two Books Illustrated by Hokusai


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    Fig. I. Key-block for Ehon kyokayama mala yama, leaf I9, left half. Fig. II. Key-block for Ehon kyokayama maltayama, eaf 20, right half.

  • 8/13/2019 Two Books Illustrated by Hokusai



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    AIiTT, 9xi,


    Fig. III. Key-block for T7to shokei chiran, eft half of Nihonbashi. Fig. IV. Key-block for Thto hokei chiran, ight half of Kameido.

  • 8/13/2019 Two Books Illustrated by Hokusai


    Duret8 says of this book:

    Coup d'keil ur les lieux c6lbres de Edo. Dessinateur: Hokousai Tatsoumassa.9 Graveur: And6 Enshi.Editeur: Tsoutaya Jouzaburo. Edo i8oo. 2 vol.

    Louise Norton Brown says:The T7to Shdkei chiran of 800oos another of his [Hokusai's] well known works in which the illustrations

    represent various aspects of life in Edo. And, Tdto Meisho Shdkei chiran: The environs of Edo. SignedHokusai Tatsumasa. 2 vols. i8oo. Colours. IO

    Now it is remarkable hat Toda and Duret mention Tsutaya Jcsabur6 as the publisher whilethe Museum copy itself clearly belonging to the 1815 edition of Hishiya Kimbei at Nagoyamentions as original publisher Suwaraya, but also i 8oo and so the head-clerk of the late Tsutaya

    Jfsabur6 (died I797) perhaps sold the blocks to Suwaraya n the year of publication tself.,,From the copy at Leyden it is evident that the blocks of Thto shdkei chiran were already a

    little tired when the Hishiya edition was made though they still gave a nice impression, be it

    probably well over the two-hundredth.It seems permissible to come to the conclusion that both books were originally made for

    the same publisher, he old firm of Tsutaya Jfsabur6. From the blocks themselves it is evident,that they were cut by the same hand, that therefore those for Ebon kydkayama matayama werealso cut by And6 Enshi, not before 1803 (the evidence of the Gion flag), that they were partlycut on the reverse of the blocks used for the older book and that the blocks left the possessionof the firm already n its decline,2 and came either via some unknown person or via Hokusaihimself into Von Siebold's possession and so to Holland. Incidentally, the make up of the

    pages is rather similar in both books, kydka and all.13 must prefer the Ehon kydkayama matayama because there is a greater unity of composition and design throughout its pages.

    8 Theodore Duret, Livres et Albums llustris du Japon, Paris s. d., page 183.9 Tatsoumassa is wrong here. The right, 'on', reading is Shinsei .

    10 Op. cit. pages 18o, 181. Meisho s wrong here. I cannot imagine how it has slipped in. Tatsumasa s also wrong. It isin this connection remarkable that the Ukiyo-e iten mentions this book as Tdto meisho chiran, eaving out shokei ,beautiful scenery, and using instead meisho , amous places, perhaps from an alternative title pasted on some wrapper,for it is not in the book itself which clearly reads shokei without any meisho.

    1 Nakata, op. cit., says about this book: 2 vols. Kansei 12 (1800oo) nd mentions only Tsutaya Jiisabur6 as its publisher.12 Ukiyo-e Quartet, pages io- i.13 Some pages are even very similar in composition and drawing, others show marked differences.