Third National Industrial Exhibition Bronze Medal Awarded to Matsuki Heikichi (Daikokuya) for Exquisite Skill, after 1890 

IHL Cat. #2659


A woodblock print touting receipt of the Bronze Medal awarded to Matsuki Heikichi V (松木平吉 五代目) and his company Daikokuya (大黒屋) for "exquisite skill" at the 1890 Third National Industrial Exhibition (第三回内国勧業博覧会 Daisankai naikoku kangyō hakurankai) held in Ueno Park, Tokyo. Along the top of the print is written 於内国勧業博覧會  妙技賞牌ヲ受頷ス,  roughly translating as "at the National Industrial Exhibition, accepting the performance award medal for exquisitely skillful performance," i.e. beautiful technique. Between the text is a drawing of the two sides of the actual medal measuring approximately 2 3/8 inches in diameter. 

The vertical text in the rightmost column reads Bijutsu gafu (美術畫譜), "art picture album," and it is followed with a list of art publications by Daikokuya. The list includes Gekkō gaho (月耕畫圃), published in three volumes and Yamato monogatari gafu (大和物語譜), published in two volumes, both by Ogata Gekkō; Nōgaku zue (能樂圖繪) by Sakamaki Kogyō (Tsukioka Kogyō), published in five volumes, and Bunrei kachō gafu (文嶺花鳥譜) by Maekawa Bunrei, published in two volumes.1  

On the left of the print, in the two columns preceding the publisher's name (大黒屋 松木平吉) and address (東京市日本橋区両国吉川町二番地), is a statement by Matsuki that these "exquisite masterpieces of elevated and refined beauty" are specially made albums from his shop.

While the Bronze Medal shown at the top of the print is dated 1890 (明治廿三年) and contains the inscription "National Industrial Exhibition, Tokyo" (内國勧業博覧會 東京), clearly indicating it is a medal from the Third National Industrial Exhibition held in 1890 in Ueno Park (see "Listing of the Award" below), at least one of the known dates of publication of the listed publications is after 1890.2 As we see even today, for example in the wine business, the receipt of an award is often long touted by its recipient. 

As with other similar promotional prints by Matsuki (see "Other Advertising Prints" below), this print, attached to an album backing paper, was likely included in one of the publisher's art albums, although I have not been able to identify a specific album this print was incorporated in.3

1 For more information on Nōgaku zue see "First Series (1897-1902)- Nōgakuzue (Illustrations of Noh; aka Pictures of Noh Plays or Pictures of Noh Performances)" on this site. For more information on Gekkō Gaho see "Young Sea Bream from the book Gekkō Gaho" on the Myjapansehanga site.

2 The publication of volume 5 of Nōgaku zue is dated 1902, with a December 1902 date listed on some its prints.

3 This collection's advertisement print is one of at least three created by the publisher.

Listing of the Award

The "List of Award Recipients for the Third National Industrial Exposition" (第三回内国勧業博覧会受賞者人名録) lists Matsuki Heikichi as a winner of the Bronze Medal (pictured on the right) for "exquisite skill" for his ukiyo-e figures.

Shown far left is the entry on page 35 of the "List of Award Recipients" giving Matsuki Heikichi's address (仝府日本橋區吉三町) the nature of the award, for his "woodblock print ukiyo-e figures" (木版浮世畫人物) followed by his name 松木平吉. To its right is the award section heading, "Third Prize Excellent Skill" (三等妙技賞), topped with the Imperial Seal of Japan, as it appears on page 32. 

A copy of this publication is available online on the National Diet Library website.1

1 ThCitation: 第三回内国勧業博覧会受賞者人名録』,両友社,明23.9. 国立国会図書館デジタルコレクション (参照 2024-01-21)


Bronze Medal Exquisite Skill Award as pictured on page 2 of the "List of Award Recepients. . ."


A reference back to the Progress Bronze Medal 賞銅牌 with a diameter of 2 sun or approximately 2 3/8 in. (6 cm)

Other Advertising Prints by the Publisher - Picturing the Same Bronze Medal

Advertising Print bound into copies of Bijin hana kurabe (Comparison of Beautiful Women and Flowers) by Ogata Gekkō and Tsuki Hyakushi (One Hundred Aspects of the Moon) by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi.

1890 Advertising Print Picturing a Print and Book Vendor

image source: Edo-Tokyo Museum Digital Archives

Matsuki Heikichi the 5th (1871-1931) 

image source:

Matsuki Heikich and Daikokuya

The publisher, wholesaler, retailer and distributor Matsuki Heikichi V (1870-1931), company name Daikokuya, was one of the largest Tokyo publishing houses, publishing a broad range of woodblock prints and books.1 The business seemed to have flourished from its founding in the Edo period in 1763, until the early 1900s when demand for woodblock printed materials declined. The company's last publication, as shown in the database,  titled "Kiyochika gaden" and published in 1927 was an appropriate one, as the prints of the popular artist Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915), must certainly been a significance source of income for the company up until Kiyochika's death in 1915.2

While the actual date of the closing of the business is not known, the 1923 Great Kantō Earthquake and resulting fires must have taken a terrible toll on the shop located in the Ryōgoku district of Tokyo. In addition, according to William Wetherall, poor health and the lack of an eager successor drove Heikichi V to shutter the business.3

1 The business is often referred to as Daikokuya Heikichi and many of their art albums show the publisher name as Daikokuya gaho 大黒屋画鋪 

2 The final date of demise of the company is often given as 1931, the recorded death date of Matsuki Heikichi V. For the WorldCat listing see

3 Website of William Wetherall, "Daikokusha Matsuki Heikichi The anthropology of an Edo/Tokyo publishing house"

The Third National Industrial Exhibition 1890

The Third National Industrial Exhibition, was held in the 2,550th year of the Japanese Imperial reign (the 2,550th anniversary of the Emperor Jimmu), in Tokyo's Ueno Park from April 1, 1890 through July 31, 1890. While originally planned as an international exhibition, its scope was scaled back to a domestic event, "promoting industries in the private sector,"1 but with emphasis on showing goods that would be "sought after by Western consumers."2 

The exhibition included a main hall, art museum, agriculture hall, animal husbandry hall, aquarium, and machinery hall. The exhibition also featured Japan's first electric train, which was set up to run around the perimeter of the site. 

While visited by over 1,000,000 Japanese, it drew only several hundred foreign visitors and was not considered a success, ending with "a significant inventory of unsold exhibits."3 

1 The National Diet Library "Expositions: Where the Modern Technology of the Times was Exhibited"

2 "Takejiro Hasegawa: Meiji Japan's preeminent publisher of wood-block-illustrated crepe-paper books," Frederic Alan Sharf, Peabody Essex Museum, 1994, p. 16.

3 op. cit. National Diet Library

Illustration of the Ueno Park Exhibition Royal Visit by Kobayashi Ikuhide, April 1890

(IHL Cat. #512)

The emperor, empress and crown prince arrive at the Third National Industrial Exhibition in Ueno Park which opened on April 1 and attracted over 1 million visitors in its three month run. Held against a backdrop of recession and an influenza epidemic, it was considered somewhat of a failure, but a big crowd pleaser was the Tokyo Electric Lamp Company’s first electric streetcar as was the presence of 60 domestically brewed beers.