Woodblock Print Supplements to

The Complete Works of Chikamatsu


Dai Chikamatsu zenshū furoku mokuhan

大近松全集 付録木版

Overview

Note: This article corrects and updates information previously published on my now archived website www.myjapanesehanga.com

The print series Woodblock Supplements to the Complete Works of Chikamatsu (大近松全集 付録木版 Dai Chikamatsu zenshū furoku mokuhan), consists of eighteen large size (dai-ōban) woodblock prints, each illustrating a major character from a play by Chikamatsu Manzaemon 近松門左衛門 (1623-1724). The prints were issued in conjunction with The Complete Works of Chikamatsu (大近松全集 付録木版 Dai Chikamatsu zenshū), published between April 1922 and September 1925.


The sixteen volume set of The Complete Works of Chikamatsu, consisting of 104 plays, was compiled and edited by Kitani Hōgin 木谷蓬吟 (1877-1950), theater critic and jōruri researcher, and published by the Society for the Publication of the Complete Works of Chikamatsu (Dai Chikamatsu zenshū kankōkai 大近松全集刊行会).[1] The compilation was issued as part of the celebration of the two-hundredth anniversary of the death of Chikamatsu, perhaps the greatest dramatist in the history of the Japanese theater.

The Eighteen Prints

The prints, "woodblock supplements," play an important role in this memorial tribute to Chikamatsu and the editor Kitani Hōgin, in his introduction appearing in volume 1, expresses his gratitude to the contributing artists:

The eighteen color woodblock prints included in this collection were created by eighteen leading contemporary artists: Kikuchi Keigetsu, Kaburaki Kiyokata, Nishiyama Suishō, Yamamura Kōka, Suga Tatehiko, Nishimura Goun, Kitano Tsunetomi, Yamaguchi Sōhei, Ogawa Unsen, Tomita Keisen, Noda Kyūho, Tamamura Hokuto, Uemura Shōen, Shima Seien, Kitani Chigusa, Ishikawa Toraji, Nakazawa Hiromitsu, and Okada Saburōsuke.

Their contributions add a great deal to the collection. The prints are beautiful and evocative, and they help to bring Chikamatsu's plays to life.

The author would like to express his gratitude to the many people who helped to make this collection possible. He is particularly grateful to the artists who contributed the prints, the scholars who provided access to rare materials, and the publishers who made the collection possible.

March 1922 [2]

Fifteen of the volumes have a single supplemental print illustrating one of its plays, with volume 6 having three supplemental prints illustrating three of its plays. Each print was designed by a different and well-established nihonga (a modern form of traditional Japanese painting) artist including Kitano Tsunetomi (1880-1947), Ishikawa Toraji (1875-1964), Yamamura Toyonari (1885-1942), Kaburaki Kiyokata (1878-1972) and two important female painters of the period, Shima Seien (1892-1970) and Uemura Shoen (1875-1949). In producing these prints, the publisher hired two highly regarded craftsmen to work with the artists - Yamagishi Kazue 山岸主計 (1891-1984) for the carving and Nishimura Kumakichi 西村熊吉 (1861-1941) for the printing. 


The number of times each print was produced and the number of prints in each production is unknown, but there appears to be at least two different printings for each print, one which has the names of the printer and carver in the bottom margin, the other without this notation. Variations in coloration also are known for some prints, again, indicating multiple printings. 


Many of the designs have a printed gray border, reminiscent of the brocade borders found on hanging scrolls. In addition, many of the designs have deluxe highlights, including embossing, gofun, mica, and metallics. But it is not only the deluxe techniques used in the printing that make these woodblock prints so desirable, it is the different in approaches taken by the artists to their subjects, as we can see below. 


Designs from the set are illustrated both in The New Wave: Twentieth-century Japanese Prints from the Robert O. Muller Collection, Amy Reigle Stephens, Bamboo Publishing Ltd, London & Hotei-Japanese Prints, Leiden, 1993 and The Female Image: 20th Century Prints of Japanese Beauties, Amy Riegle Newland and Hamanaka Shinji, Abe Publishing Ltd and Hotei Publishing, 2000.[3]

[1] Jruri is a form of dramatic narrative chanting to shamisen accompaniment that is commonly associated with the bunraku puppet theater.

[2] Transcription of Kitani's remarks appearing on page 6 of his introductory remarks in volume 1

描いた十八葉の精巧彩色大形木版畫は、現代斯道の大家十八氏(菊池契月、鏑木清方 西山翠嶂、山村耕花、菅楯彦、西村五雲、北野恒富、山口草平、小川芋錢、富田溪 仙、野田九浦、玉村方久斗、上村松園、島成園、木谷千種、石川寅治、中澤弘光、岡田三郎助の諸氏)の揮筆にかくる。かくて本著の上に一大光彩を奥へられた事は 著者の永く感銘する所である。一每卷挿入の、近松戯曲を中心とした參考資料の寫真版は、 其二三種の外は未だ世間に發表されて居ないものくみを撰んて掲載した。その他本集編纂に付て、稀籍珍書 を提供され、或は直接間接に多大の助力を奥へられた各地諸賢に對し、こへに謹ん て感謝の意を表して置く。大正十一年三月

[3] At the time of their publication, 1993 for The New Wave and 2000 for The Female Image, the entire set of prints had not yet been accurately described. This article, using more recently available sources, hopes to correct any inaccuracies or incompleteness of prior published information, including information previously published on my archived website www.myjapanesehanga.com, which can now be securely accessed at https://pages.uoregon.edu/jsmacollections/home.html

The Eighteen Prints

Notes:

Much of the below information is based on information that can be found on the website of the Chikamatsu Drama Research Institute Sonoda Women's University. specifically the following pages: [accessed 3-09-24]

 https://www3.sonoda-u.ac.jp/chikamatsu/tenji/t_2016/t_2016_01_mokuroku.html 

 https://www3.sonoda-u.ac.jp/chikamatsu/tenji/t_2016/t_2016_02_mokuroku.html

 https://www3.sonoda-u.ac.jp/chikamatsu/tenji/t_2016/t_2016_03_mokuroku.html

The entire sixteen volume set of The Complete Works of Chikamatsu can be found on the website of the Haithi Trust at https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/002892816 [accessed 3-09-24]

All translations are my own, with the assistance of multiple electronic translation apps, and subject to errors which I take full responsibility for. Transcriptions of the original Japanese text are in the footnotes.

Appendix: Woodblock Print Table of Contents

appearing in Volume 16 of Dai Chikamatsu zenshū

Source: copied from the website of the Haithi Trust which has canned copies of all sixteen voluvme of  Dai Chikamatsu zenshū https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/002892816 [accessed 3-9-2024]

Volume 9: 'Yamanba' from 'Komochi Yamanba' by Ogawa Unsen

Volume 10: 'Yūgiri' from 'Yūgiri' by Shima Seien

Volume 11: 'Shutendōji' from 'Shutendōji' by Tamamura Hikuto

Volume 12: 'Yuki onna' from 'Yuki onna' by Uemura Shōen

Volume 13: 'Kezuri' from 'Kezuri' by Noda Kyūho

Volume 14: 'Ochiyo' from 'Yoigōshin' by Kitani Chigusa

Volume 15: 'Mongaku' from 'Gokai no tama' by Tomita Keisen

Volume 16: 'Soga' from 'Toragozen' by Ishikawa Toraji

Volume 1: 'Koharu' from 'Amajima' by Kikuchi Keigetsu

Volume 2: 'Umekawa' from 'Meido no hikyaku' by Kitano Tsunetomi

Volume 3: 'Kinshōjo' from 'Coxinga' (Kokusen'ya) by Nishiyama Suishō

Volume 4: 'Seki no Koman' from 'Tanba Yosaku' by Yamamura Kōka

Volume 5: 'Semimaru' from 'Semimaru' by Sugata Tatehiko

Volume 6: 'Matsukaze' from 'Matsukaze Murasame' by Nakazawa Hiromitsu

Volume 6: 'Asahina' from 'Yotsugi Soga' by Nishimura Goun

Volume 6: 'Osan' from 'Daikyōji' by Okada Saburōsuke

Volume 7: 'Osai' from 'Yari no Gonza' by Kaburaki Kiyokata

Volume 8: 'Yohei' from 'Onnagoroshi abura no jigoku' by Yamaguchi Sōhei"

The Prints and Story Notes

The Heroine Koharu in

The Love Suicides at Amijima


Kikuchi Keigetsu

(1879-1955)

IHL Cat. #47 and #1114


A Chikamatsu masterpiece, The Love Suicides at Amijima (心中天網島 Shinjūten no Amijima) is based on a real incident involving a pair of lovers who killed themselves on the Amijima Diachō Temple grounds in Osaka on November 13, 1720.[1] The puppet play opened not quite two months later on January 3, 1721.

"In Amijima, Chikamatsu goes well beyond simply staging a current event. The play explores the intricacies of a love triangle by treating the wife, Osan, as a major character. The entangling web of interactions between the wife and the courtesan, Koharu (小春), complicates the plot and adds new depths to a familiar story" which ends in the double suicide of Koharu and her lover, Jihei.[1]   

This print is from the supplement to Volume 1 of the "Complete Works of Chikamatsu."

[1] Various dates are given for the couple's suicide, including October 14, 1720 in "The Bunraku Handbook" by Shuzaburo Hironaga, Maison Des Arts, Inc. Tokyo, 1976.

[2] Traditional Japanese Theater: An Anthology of Plays, Karen Brazell, Columbia University Press, 1998, p. 333-334. For a translation of the entire play see The Major Plays of Chikamatsu, translated by Donald Keene, Columbia University Press, 1961, p. 387-425.

The Heroine Umekawa in

The Courier for Hell


 Kitano Tsunetomi (1880-1947)

Chikamatsu tells the story of the lovers Chūbei, a courier, and Umekawa (梅川), a courtesan from Osaka's Shinmachi entertainment district, in his 1711 play The Courier for Hell (冥途の飛脚 Meido no hikyaku). Chūbei will steal his customers’ money to buy Umekawa’s contract and the two run away to his home town in the mountains to escape punishment. As the snow intensifies, they will perish in the mountains.[1]  

In this print we see Umekawa with Chūbei beside her (only his headwrap is seen) as they flee in the snow.

This print is from the supplement to Volume 2 of the "Complete Works of Chikamatsu."

Kitano repurposed this design for his slightly later woodblock print, titled The Heron Maiden (Sagi musume), published in 1925, as shown on the right. 

[1] For a translation of the entire play see The Major Plays of Chikamatsu, translated by Donald Keene, Columbia University Press, 1961, p. 161-194.

This print depicts princess Kinshōjo (錦祥女) from Chikamatsu's play The Battles of Coxinga (国性爺合戦 Kokusen'ya kassen). The play, a masterpiece of the puppet theater (ningyō jōruri 人形浄瑠璃), was first staged in November 1715 and it remains the most successful play in the history of jōruri

Nishiyama portrays the moment after Kinshōjo stabs herself, allowing her blood to flow into the Lion Castle moat as a signal that her husband, general Kanki, will join Watōnai (later known as Coxinga) to fight the Tartars. The two become allies and Watōnai is given the name Coxinga (Kokusen'ya in Japanese), Lord of Enpei.[1]

This print is from the supplement to Volume 3 of the "Complete Works of Chikamatsu."

[1] For a translation of the pivotal Act 2 of the play see Donald Keene's translation in Traditional Japanese Theater: An Anthology of Plays, Karen Brazell, Columbia University Press, 1998, p. 314-332. For a translation of the entire play see The Major Plays of Chikamatsu, translated by Donald Keene, Columbia University Press, 1961, p. 195-269.

The Heroine Koman from Seki in the play Yosaku from Tanba

Yamamura Toyonari (Yamamura Kōka) (1885-1942)

IHL Cat. #183

In this print Yamamura depicts the prostitute Koman (小萬) walking along under a waning moon, leading an unseen horse and its rider, Yosaku, who has collapsed on his saddle, as they travel on the "Road of Dreams," in Act 3 of Yosaku from Tanba Singing a Song of Komuro  (丹波与作待夜のこむろぶし Tanba Yosaku machiyo no komurobushi).[1]

"Yosaku is a samurai reduced to working as a horse driver because of his offenses in the past. He has betrayed his wife, failed to repay his master’s kindness, and abandoned his child. We learn that he gambles and has recently lost at a game in which the stake was a horse belonging to another man. In order to raise some money, Yosaku persuades the boy Sankichi to steal. When Koman, the courtesan who is Yosaku’s sweetheart, protests, Yosaku answers, 'You’re too timid. If the kid is caught, the worst he’ll get is a spanking.' Sankichi is in fact caught, and eventually condemned to be executed. Yosaku and Koman, overcome with remorse, decide they must kill themselves. On their journey to death Yosaku emerges as a tragic figure, and his transgressions, though not forgiven, seem to have made possible at last the flowering of his true nature."[2]

This print is from the supplement to Volume 4 of the "Complete Works of Chikamatsu."

[1] For a complete translation of the play see The Major Plays of Chikamatsu, translated by Donald Keene, Columbia University Press, 1961, p. 91-130. The play's title is also seen translated as "The Night Song of Yosaku from Tamba." 

[2] Ibid. p. 22-23.

Semimaru

Suga Tatehiko

(1878-1963)

IHL Cat. #137

In this print, we see a tree shaded straw hut, Buddhist offerings and a lute. Semimaru, the blind lute player, sits in contemplation in the fourth act of the play Semimaru. 

"The year 1688 is the likeliest date of composition of Chikamatsu’s puppet play Semimaru (蝉丸). It was the third notably successful play presented with Chikamatsu’s name as playwright. Chikamatsu transforms the legend of Semimaru into a love story while retaining the traditional identity of Semimaru as an enlightened poet whose most famous poem shows the futility of man’s emotional attachments to others."[1]   

This print is from the supplement to Volume 5 of the "Complete Works of Chikamatsu."

[1] The Legend of Semimaru, Blind Musician of Japan, Susan Matisoff, Cheng & Tsui, 2006, p. 130-131, 148. 

The Heroine Matsukaze in The Story of Matsukaze


Nakazawa Hiromitsu (1874-1964)


This print depicts the character Matsukaze (松風), an ama (female diver) from the play The Story of Matsukaze (松風村雨束帯鑑 Matsukaze Murasame sokutai kagami). First staged around 1705, the play tells the story of the love of the courtier Ariwara Yukihira, in exile in Suma, for two local brine maidens, the sisters Matsukaze and Murasame. The sisters die of grief after Ariwara returns to the capital.

This print is from the supplement to volume 6 of the Complete Works of Chikamatsu.

Asashina Saburō Yoshihide in The Soga Heir


Nishimura Goun

(1877-1938)

IHL Cat. #46

A bunraku puppet in the role of Asahina Saburō Yoshihide (朝比奈三郎), a man of great strength, in the fourth scene in the play The Soga Heir (世継曽我 Yotsugi Soga), first performed in 1683.

Chikamatsu sets this story after the Soga brothers' death. In summary, "the Soga brothers take revenge on their father's killer, Kudō Suketsune. However, the older brother, Jūrō, dies in the fighting, and the younger one, Gorō, receives the death sentence after being treated like an animal at a hunting site by Shingai no Arashirō and Arai Toda. Asahina no Saburō, a relative of the Soga Family, becomes enraged by this and tells the retainers of the Soga, Onio and Dozaburo, to avenge their lord by killing these men. Onio, Dozaburo, Tora (the lover of Jūrō) and Shosho (the lover of Gorō) kill Arashiro and Toda with the support of Asahina no Saburō. Jurō's son Sukewaka was made the lord of the province of the Soga family which is controlled by Minamoto no Yoritomo (the first shogun of the Kamakura shogunate), and becomes the Soga Family heir."[1]

This print is from the supplement to volume 6 of the Complete Works of Chikamatsu issued ins September 1921. 

[1] City of Amagasaki website devoted to Chikamatsu https://www.city.amagasaki.hyogo.jp/manabu/art/chikamatu/055chikamatsu_sakuhin.html [accessed 3-7-24]

The Heroine Osan in

The Almanac-Maker's Tale


Okada Saburōsuke (1869-1939)

IHL Cat. #203 

Chikamatsu's play The Almanac-Maker's Tale (大経師昔暦 Daikyōji mukashi goyomi), first performed in 1715, is based on the real life story of the illicit love affair of Osan (おさん) and Moemon, leading to their execution. "While Osan’s husband, the almanac maker, was absent in Edo, the maidservant, Tama, acted as an intermediary to arrange a love affair between her mistress and the clerk, Moemon. Osan became pregnant and when the result of her infidelity could no longer be concealed she fled to Tanba with Moemon. The fugitives were soon discovered, brought back to Kyoto and executed at Awataguchi, together with the maid."[1]

In Chikamatsu's play, Osan and her lover are saved at the end of the play by the intercession of a powerful priest. In the first act "Osan, realizing that her husband has been visiting the maid Tama at night, decides that she will teach him a lesson. She changes places with the maid and prepares to upbraid her unfaithful husband when he joins her in bed. Meanwhile the clerk, Mohei, who is under obligation to the maid and who knows that she is in love with him, steals to her bedroom, intending finally to gratify her desires. He is, instead, received by Osan, who, believing that it is her husband, responds warmly to his advances.[2] 

Okada presents Osan glancing over her shoulder with clasped hands held to her cheek. 

This print is from the supplement to Volume 6 of the "Complete Works of Chikamatsu."

[1] "The Life of an Amorous Woman," Ihara Saikaku, New Directions Books, 1963, p. 271.

[2] Ibid.

The Heroine Osai in Gonza the Lancer


Kaburaki Kiyokata (1878-1973)

IHL Cat. #1730

First performed on September 26, 1717, Chikamatsu modeled the play Gonza the Lancer (鑓の権三重帷子 Yari no gonza kasane katabira) on events which occurred about six weeks before its first performance, changing the names of the characters and moving the location of the final scene. He called the chief character Gonza, the hero of a half-century-old ballad.[1]


In the print Osai (おさい), the wife of a tea ceremony teacher, who secretly longs for Sasano Gonza, her intended son-in-law, holds the sash she has just torn from Gonza after a struggle. The sash displays his crest and a reverse chrysanthemum joined in a lover's knot. After tearing off the sash she cries "Are you so devoted to that sash? Here, I know you won't like it, but wear my sash instead. It will become a vengeful snake, wrap itself around you waste, and never let you go."[2] While jealous, she smiles sweetly, looking over her shoulder with a tender expression of affection. When Gonza throws her sash into the garden it is taken by the samurai Bannojō, hiding there, as proof of their adultery, the penalty for which is death.

This print is from the supplement to Volume 7 of the "Complete Works of Chikamatsu."

[1] J-STAGE website https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/nihonbungaku/30/7/30_KJ00009986281/_article/-char/ja/ [accessed 3-7-24]

[2]For a translation of the play see The Major Plays of Chikamatsu, translated by Donald Keene, Columbia University Press, 1961, p. 270-312. 

Yohei (与兵衛), a 23 year old debt-ridden oil merchant, draws his dagger to kill Okichi the wife of the oil merchant Teshimaya Shichizaemon and take the money she's removed from a safe, in the third act of Chikamatsu's The Oil-Hell Murder (女殺油地獄, Onnagoroshi abura no jigoku), first performed in August 1721 on the bunraku stage.[1] 

The play is based on the real-life story of a murder that occurred in Osaka in 1720. "The murder which inspired this work occurred, as in Chikamatsu's dramatization, on the night before the Boys' Festival in 1721. Little is known of the events surrounding the crime, but Chikamatsu's version may have been influenced by a slightly earlier Kabuki play on the same theme. Chikamatsu attempted to relieve the gloomy atmosphere with lighter touches . . ., but the play was not well received, and its present high reputation dates only from the end of the nineteenth century."[2]

This print is from the supplement to Volume 8 of the "Complete Works of Chikamatsu."

[1] The play is also seen translated as "The Woman-Killer and The Hell of Oil."

[2] The Major Plays of Chikamatsu, translated by Donald Keene, Columbia University Press, 1961, p. 426. For a complete translation see the same work p. 426-472.

The Mountain Witch in Komochi yamanba


Ogawa Usen

(1868-1938)

IHL Cat. #49 

The puppet play The Mountain Witch (嫗山姥 Komochi yamanba) premiered in the 7th lunar month of 1712 in Osaka at the Takemoto-za. It tells the story of a beautiful young woman, Yaegiri, formerly a courtesan, who is transformed into a yamanba with supernatural power who leaves for the mountains to raise her son Kintarō, born with superhuman powers.[1]

Ogawa's print depicts the mountain witch on her mountain pilgrimage in the fourth act of Komochi yamanba. She stands on the clouds to show her supernatural powers. 

This print is from the supplement to Volume 9 of the "Complete Works of Chikamatsu."

[1] The title of the play is also seen translated as "The Pregnant Mountain Ogres" and "Yamauba with a Child" among other English translations.