Brocade Pictures for Moral Education, 1882-1884

錦絵修身談 Nishiki-e shūshindan 

Six volumes of text with illustrations (1882-1884)

and ninety-two supplemental color woodblock prints (1883 and 1888)

A collaborative effort of Yoshitoshi, his students

and the Tokyo publishing house Fukyūsha

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The Six Textbooks "Nishiki-e shūshindan"  錦絵修身談 

(Brocade Pictures for Moral Education)


- from page 2 of the publisher's preface

Young children’s favorite and easy to understand color woodblock prints are presented with short stories, highlighting loyalty, filial piety, benevolence, etc. Pictures are also inserted in the text, eliminating boredom and enabling children to read and practice.

- Tsuji Keiji, publisher  (translation of the above)

In 1882 the Tokyo educator and publisher Tsuji Keiji 辻敬之 (1851-1891), of the publishing house Fukyūsha 普及舎, with the writer Yamana Tomesaburō 山名留三郎, the editor Masukawa Kanyū 増川蚶雄, and the artist Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) undertook the creation of a six volume set of primary school moral instruction textbooks titled Nishiki-e shūshindan 錦絵修身談, or Brocade Pictures for Moral Education.1 Volumes 1,2 and 3 were originally issued in March 1882 and volumes 4, 5 and 6 were originally issued in July 1884. As summarized in the below chart, each volume contained from one to three full-color aiban-size prints folded in half and placed in the beginning of the book and between four and eight black and white illustrations, all by Yoshitoshi. The books contained a total of ninety-one stories from Japan, China and the West that were promised to hold the attention of the young child. 

Volumes 3 through 6 also list Inagaki Chikai 稲垣千穎 (1845-1913), an instructor at the Tokyo Normal School and poet involved with the creation of the first elementary school song book, as an editor (校閲).

These books were in keeping with the Ministry of Education's embracing of the theories of developmental education, which looked away from wrote learning and memorization to a curriculum more tailored to the individual child's needs. Isawa Shūji 伊澤修二 (1851-1917), an influential proponent of developmental education, argued for moral textbooks that would "include stories, the words and deeds of wise and virtuous men, proverbs, and ethical principles. Instruction in morals should begin with easy stories and gradually proceed to more sophisticated discussions."2 These primary school texts did exactly that.

The volumes were issued with at least two different styles of covers as pictured below.

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1 The publisher's name 辻敬之 is also seen romanized as Tsuji Keishi and Tsuji Takayuki. His given name was Moriyuki.

2 Principle, Praxis, and the Politics of Educational Reform in Meiji Japan, Mark Elwood Lincicome, University of Hawaii Press, 1995, p. 209.


All six volumes may be viewed online on the website of the National Diet Library Digital Collections. Go to

and search on the term "錦絵修身談" in the Title box. The NDL images are in black and white only and volumes 1 and 2 in the NDL collection are each missing one of the inserted color prints. [accessed 3-25-24]

A Little About the Publisher
Source: Principle, Praxis, and the Politics of Educational Reform in Meiji Japan, Mark Elwood Lincicome, University of Hawaii Press, 1995, p. 81-82, p. 219.

Tsuji Keiji 辻敬之 (March 21, 1851 – August 5, 1891), an alumnus of the Tokyo Normal School and the author of several textbooks, was intensely committed to the dissemination of developmental education. To that end, in 1882 he established his own publishing house, the Fukyūsha (fukyū meaning “disseminate”), which published numerous books incorporating the principles of developmental education.

Tsuji's books found favor with the Ministry of Education which, while preferring to publish its own text books, could not keep up with the demands for more and better books.

Colophon from Volume 1 of Brocade Pictures for Moral Education 

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Meiji 15th year, 3rd month, 1st day [March 1, 1883] publishing rights license [permit]

三重縣平民 - Mieken heimin [Mie Prefecture, commoner]

 編輯人 山名留三郎 Editor - Yamana Tomesaburō  

 編輯人  増川蚶雄  Compiler - Masukawa Kanyū

編輯兼出版人 辻敬之 Editor and Publisher - Tsuji Keiji

出版發兌 普及舎 Publication - Fukyūsha

發兌書林 - Hatsuda shorin

奎文堂野口愛 - Keibundō Noguchi Ai

[followed by address (not shown)]

博文堂庄左衛門 Hakubundō Shōzaemon

[followed by address (not shown)]

花岡屋伊助 Hanaokaya Isuke

[followed by address (not shown)]

"Shūshin" and Brocade Pictures for Moral Education

Sources: Moral Education in Japan; Implications for American Schools (Thesis Research), Taku Ikemoto,
May 10, 1996 and "Moral Education in Japan", Klaus Luhmer, appearing the Journal of Moral Education, vol. 19 no. 3, Oct. 1990, p. 172-182.

In the 1870s the Japanese government embarked on a program of modernization that included the establishment of a new educational system based on Western models. The 1872 Government Order of Education (Gakusei) which established a system of compulsory education stated, "We look forward to a time when there will be no illiteracy in any village house, no illiterate in any home." Ethics instruction [and moral education]—which used teachings drawn from Japanese, Chinese, and Western sources—became an important component of the new curriculum.

Moral education was called shūshin 修身, which literally means "self-discipline," a word taken from one of the classics of Confucianism. In the early days of the Meiji era there were no prescribed course of study or textbooks, tests or school marks, leaving it to the imagination of the individual teacher how to handle this subject. 

In 1879, most "Western sources" were removed from the moral education curriculum as a result of the Imperial Rescript on Education ("The Great Principles of Education" [kyōgaku taishi]), in which the "Emperor lamented the general decay of public morals, for which he blamed the influx of Western learning. Moral education, based on traditional spirit, was listed at the top of all subjects at elementary schools."

"Teachers were encouraged to enforce strict discipline, calling attention to the Confucianist moral concepts which enjoyed a long tradition in Japan. Shūshin received increased attention and its content and purpose was more clearly defined. A number of guides were published to serve teachers and school administrators as aids for enforcing the national spirit by means of this subject."

This six volume series of textbooks, produced in 1883 and 1884, found classroom and, likely, home use for teaching shūshin. The moral lessons put forth in these volumes are mostly drawn from Confucianism with the addition of a few stories based on the exploits of Westerners and a few illustrations depicting Western characters illustrating exemplary moral concepts such as honesty.

In 1890 the Imperial Rescript on Education (kyōiku chokugo) re-introduced the teaching of Western concepts and clarified the pillars of shūshin as State Shinto, Confucianism and modern political and social ethics, which included respect for the Constitution, observation of laws and calls for dutiful citizens who, should emergency arise, offer themselves "courageously to the State..."

The Rescript was invalidated in 1948.

The Twelve Aiban-size Color Prints by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi Inserted in the Textbooks

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The Courage of Columbus


Volume 5

not in collection

The Bravery of Hōjō Tokimune


Volume 6

not in collection

"Moral Education Classroom Wall Posters"

In November 1883 the publisher separately compiled the twelve color prints included in the original six textbooks into two volumes titled, "Moral Education Classroom Wall Posters" (修身教場掛図), as shown below. 

Moral Education Classroom Wall Posters, Separately Manufactured Folding Book, Volume 1

Tsuji Keiji, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi Prints

脩身教場掛圗 别製折本一 辻敬之 月岡芳年画 貮拾帖之内

Moral Education Classroom Wall Posters, Separately Manufactured Folding Book, Volume 2

Tsuji Keiji, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi Prints

脩身教場掛圗 别製折本 辻敬之 月岡芳年画 貮拾帖之内

The Publisher's Preface

The preface, translated below, to each of the two volumes of "Moral Education Classroom Wall Posters," provides guidance to teachers on how best to put the pictures and text to use when instructing young children. 

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Publisher's preface to the 1883 compilation of prints, "Moral Education Classroom Wall Posters"

Translation of Preface

The following items are composed from the theories and experiences of many European and American educators and are generally accepted by leading educators. All of our company's published moral education books and textbooks are written based on this new principle of teaching that emphasizes the development of the mind and character.[1]

-Respectfully submitted by Fukysha

One: Children are naturally active. Let them get used to movement. Let them practice using their hands.

Two: Develop their various mental abilities in accordance with the natural order. First, build their minds, and then provide them with knowledge.

Three: Start with the five senses. Never explain to children what they can discover for themselves.

Four: Teach all subjects from the ground up. One thing at a time.

Five: Progress one step at a time. Make sure everything is understood completely. The goal of teaching is not to teach what the teacher can teach, but to help students learn what they can learn.

Six: Whether it is direct or indirect, each lesson must have a point.

Seven: Present concepts first, explain them second.

Eight: Progress from the known to the unknown. From the specific to the general. From the concrete to the abstract. From the easy to the difficult. From the familiar to the unfamiliar. From the simple to the complex.

Nine: Synthesize first [provide a general understanding of the whole], then analyze [the component parts].

[1]Possibly a reference to the application of "neo-idealism" to childhood education which had become popular in Europe and America the 1870s.

1888 Reprinting of Yoshitoshi's Original Prints

The above twelve color prints appearing in the original six volume textbook and designed by Yoshitoshi were re-printed in 1888 and sold as individual prints. These re-printings, an example of which is shown below, show the original publishing date of 1883 along with the date of the second printing (再版 saihan) of 1888 in the left margin. 

The Ninety-Two Oban-size Color Prints Issued in 1888 as Supplements to the Textbooks "Nishiki-e shūshindan"  錦絵修身談 

In October 1883 [see "Dating the Prints," below] a set of ninety-two full-color oban-size prints designed by students of Yoshitoshi were published by Tsuji Keiji and his publishing house Fukyūsha as supplements, or accompaniments, to the six volume set of textbooks. These prints illustrated the ninety-one short stories in the six volumes. A number of the prints issued were based upon Yoshitoshi's black and white illustrations in the texts, two examples of which are shown below. Each of the full-color prints carries the same title as the textbooks, 錦絵修身談  (Brocade Prints for Moral Education), along with the volume number, across its top. The story name, along with its number in the volume it appears in and the page number of the portion of the text it is illustrating appears in a vertical red cartouche on each print. 

Dating the Prints

Almost all of the prints I have come across, including 89 of the 92 prints in the database of the Art Research Center (ARC) Ritsumeikan University, show three dates in their left margin (as shown on the right), followed by the address and name of the publisher Tsuji Keiji 辻敬之 and his publishing house Fukyūsha 普及舎.

The ARC database contains three prints whose left margin is blank and some prints in my collection have their left margins blank. (Note that there are also quite a few extant prints whose left margins are cut off or partially trimmed from the print.)

ARC and other sources use the "second edition" date of November 3, 1888 as the date of publication for all the prints in their collection, whether they have a date printed in the left margin or not. While I have never seen a print from this series which only shows the publication date of October 1883, I think it likely that a first edition of prints was issued in October 1883, about six months after the publishing of the first three volumes of the text books which bear the date of March 1882. It may be that prints without any publishing information on the print are from the first edition.

In addition to the "second edition" of the 92 supplemental color prints, Fukyūsha also re-printed (再版) all twelve of Yoshitoshi's original color woodblock prints as discussed above.

Dates Printed in Left Column of Most Prints

right column:


copyright license - September 26, 1883 

left column:


publication - October 1883 


second edition or re-printing - November 3, 1888

Two Examples of Supplemental Color Prints Modeled after Yoshitoshi's Black and White Illustrations 

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Volume 1, story 12



The filial son's sincerity can repel even the fiercest beasts

[Yang Hsiang saving his father from a tiger]

artist's names (signature on print)

artists: Tominaga Toshichika 富永年親

(signature: Toshichika ga 年親画)

and Kobayashi Toshimitsu 小林年参

(signature: Toshimitsu kō 年参校)

IHL Cat. #430

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Corresponding illustration by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi from Volume 1 showing Yang Xiang (Yoku) rescuing his father from a tiger, thereby being a paragon of filial piety.


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Volume 6, story 10,

leaf 22

巻六 (十)



Genius is one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration

[If you exert yourself in your business you will succeed

artists: Kobayashi Toshimitsu 小林年参 (signature: Toshimitsu utsushi 年参写) and Tominaga Toshichika 富永年親 (signature: Toshichika kō  年親校)

IHL Cat. #735

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Corresponding textbook drawing by Yoshitoshi from Volume 6


Feelings of humanity and justice, loyalty and filial piety are common to all men. However, unless when people are very young they have these feelings impressed on their minds and cultivate them, nothing can be done later if other things have entered their minds and become established as preconceived opinions. As nowadays pictures are already put up in primary schools, illustrations and photographs of loyal ministers and retainers, of filial children and virtuous wives of the present and the past should be put up, and should be pointed out when children first enter school, a short explanation given about their deeds and the primary moral obligations of loyalty and filial piety impressed on their minds first. Then, even when they are taught factual knowledge, they will go on cultivating the attributes of loyalty and filial piety, and will certainly not fail to distinguish what is essential and what is peripheral in their studies.

- Preface Kyogaku Taishi (The Great Principles of Education), 1879 by Motoda Eifu (also known as Nagazane, 1818-1891, tutor to the emperor)

Source: Education, Values and Japan's National Identity: A Study of the Aims and Content of Courses in Japanese History, 1872-1963, J. G. Caigner (thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Australian National University)

Who Were The Artists

The colored supplemental prints were created by students of Yoshitoshi and they include the artists Mizuno Toshikata (1866-1908) 水野年方, Tominaga Toshichika 富永年親 (1847-?), Tsutsui Toshimine 筒井年 (or 筒井 1863-1934), Kobayashi Toshimitsu 古林年光  (active 1876–1904), who often signed his work Teisai 亭斎 or Kōsai 高斎 and who may have also used the name Kobayashi Toshikazu), Inano Toshitsune 稲野年恒 (1859-1907) and Toshishige 年重 (dates unknown). As further explained below, definitive attribution of each print to a particular artist is sometimes difficult, due to the confusion surrounding the names, and duplicity of names, used by some of Yoshitoshi's students.

Note on Signatures, Story Titles and their English Translations

There remains a great deal of confusion about the signatures and names of certain of Yoshitoshi's pupils. Some signatures and artist names are relatively easy to decipher such as those for Toshikata and Toshichika, but others are more difficult and subject to error. For more information about these difficulties see [accessed 3-20-24]. 

The character 校 kō appears in the signature block of all the below prints. Its meaning is not clear, with possible translations being "proofed by" or "corrected by." I have never seen it used on prints other than those in this set. Until a definitive meaning is determined, I've chosen to describe it as meaning "with the assistance of," as the signature of the artist who created the design is always shown as the first signature in the block, usually followed by the character 画, "drawn by."

In 2019 the researchers at ARC updated the information on all ninety-two of the prints in this series, providing both transcriptions of the signatures on prints and the names of the artists associated with those signatures. I have used this information in identifying the prints below. Prints in the series that our part of this collection are identified with their "IHL Cat. #" at the bottom.