The Heroine Yūgiri in Yūgiri Awa no Naruto, 1923

by Shima Seien

IHL Cat. #2631


One of eighteen woodblock prints, published between April 1922 and June 1923,  that served as supplements to the sixteen volumes of The Complete Works of Chikamatsu (Dai Chikamatsu zenshu), issued to celebrate the upcoming two-hundredth anniversary of the death of the playwright Chikamatsu Manzaemon (1623-1725), perhaps the greatest dramatist in the history of the Japanese theater.[1]  Each design illustrates a scene or character from one of Chikamatsu’s famous works and at least one design accompanied each of the first fifteen volumes.[2] To see all eighteen prints and additional details on the supplements see Woodblock Print Supplements to the Complete Works of Chikamatsu. 

This print and the entire eighteen print tribute to Chikamatsu is often misidentified in the literature, even after the clarity of the entry in The Female Image: 20th Century Prints of Japanese Beauties published in 2000, which correctly titled the print [大近松全集] 付録木版 [夕霧阿波鳴渡] の夕霧 "Dai Chikamatsu zenshu" fukuroka mokuhan - "Yūgiri Awa Naruto" no Yūgiri."[3] As late as 2013, in The Women of Shin Hanga: The Judith and Joseph Barker Collection of Early-Twentieth-Century Japanese Prints, the entire series "depicting women from Chikamatsu Monzaemon's kabuki plays" is credited to Shima Seien and earlier works in which Shima's print is discussed do not tie the prints to Chikamatsu's plays. Shima's print of the courtesan Yūgiri is often referred to as "departed spirit" or the "departed spirted of a courtesan," again without referencing Chikamatsu's jōruri play giri Awa no Naruto, first staged in 1712.[4] 

This print accompanied volume 10 of the Complete Works issued in January 1923 which included the play giri Awa no Naruto. Yūgiri, the character in Chikamatsu's play, was based on the real-life courtesan Yūgiri, a tayū (high ranking courtesan) of the Ogiya House in the Shinmachi quarter of Osaka, who fell sick and died at the age of 22 in 1678 and was widely known for her poetry and mastery of the arts required to attain her position.[5] "In Chikamatsu's jōruri version, most of the action takes place inside the fictionalized Yoshidaya brothel, and a happy ending follows for Yugiri and Izaemon [a fictional character added by Chikamatsu] after several melodramatic complications that have threatened to stand in the way of their love."[6] So, which Yūgiri has Seien shown us? The historical Yūgiri who dies at such a young age or the Yūgiri of the fictional happy ending? Certainly, this must be the spirit of the real life Yūgiri who died so young.

[1] There are a range of publishing dates associated with the first printing of the sixteen volumes. Based on the CiNii bibliographic database encompassing material in Japanese academic libraries I believe the first volume was published in April 1922, followed by monthly releases of the next 14 volumes, with volume 15 being released in June 1923. Fifteen months later in September 1925 the final sixteenth volume, which consists of a bibliography, chronology, and other notes, was issued. It is not known whether the last volume was accompanied by a print. For purposes of dating the publication date of the eighteen prints, I have used the publishing date of the fifteenth volume, June 1923, as the last print publishing date.  I have not been able to determine why the final volume was delayed. The following is the table of contents for each volume:

v. 1. 近松門左衛門伝 / 木谷蓬吟 -- 関八州繫馬 -- 用明天皇職人鑑 -- 傾城島原蛙合戦 -- 賢女手習並新暦 -- 心中万年草 -- 心中天網島 -- v. 2. 天神記 -- 最明寺殿百人上臈 -- 唐船噺今国性爺 -- 出世景清 -- 百合若臣野守鏡 -- 心中重井筒 -- 忠兵衛梅川冥途の飛脚 -- v. 3. 国性爺合戦 -- 相模入道千匹犬 -- いろは物語 -- 百日曽我 -- 佐々木鑑 -- 曽根崎心中 -- 堀川波の鼓 -- 源氏冷泉節 -- v. 4. 曽我会稽山 -- 傾城吉岡染 -- 吉野都女楠 -- 当流小栗判官 -- 文武五人男 -- 今宮心中 -- 丹波与作 -- v. 5. 傾城反魂香 -- 蝉丸 -- 平家女護島 -- 聖徳太子絵伝記 -- 天智天皇 -- 長町女腹切 -- 山崎与二兵衛寿の門 -- v. 6. 風村雨束帯鑑 -- 浦島年代記 -- 世継曽我 -- 吉野忠信 -- 頼朝伊豆日記 -- 東山殿子日遊 -- 経師昔暦 -- v. 7. 井筒業平河内通 -- 織冠 -- 兼好法師物見車 -- 碁盤太平記 -- 後日下卷加増曽我 -- 原問答青葉笛 -- 鎗の権三重帷子 -- v. 8. 信州川中島合戦 -- 津国女夫池 -- 孕常磐 -- 日本西王母 -- 義経追善女舞 -- 本朝用文章.女殺油地獄 -- v. 9. 嫗山姥 -- [モミジ]狩剣本地 -- 天鼓 -- 磯虎稚物語 -- 鎌田兵衛名所盃 -- 淀鯉出世瀧徳 -- 薩摩歌 -- v. 10. 娥歌加留多 -- 曽我扇八景 -- [フタリ]静胎內[サグリ] -- 盛久 -- 門出八島 -- 遊君三世相 -- 夕霧阿波鳴渡 -- v. 11. 酒吞童子枕言葉 -- 傾城酒吞童子 -- 根元曽我 -- 十二段 -- 持統天皇歌軍法 -- つれづれ草 -- 五十年忌歌念仏 -- v. 12. 雪女五枚羽子板 -- 曽我五人兄弟 -- 双生隅田川 -- 嵯峨天皇甘露雨 -- 日本武尊吾妻鑑 -- 緋縮緬卯月の紅葉 -- 卯月の潤色 -- v. 13. 釈迦如来誕生会 -- 曽我虎が磨 -- 賀古敎信七墓廻 -- 弘徽殿鵜羽産家 -- 亀谷物語 -- 心中二枚絵草紙 -- 博多小女郎波枕 -- v. 14. 日本振袖始 -- 国性爺後日合戦 -- 本領曽我 -- 善光寺御堂供養 -- 心中刄は氷の朔日 -- 心中宵庚申 -- v. 15. 一心五戒魂 -- 本朝三国志 -- 源義経将棊経 -- 源氏烏帽子折 -- 赤染衛門栄花物語 -- 千載 -- 生玉心中 -- v. 16. 解說註釈.

[2] It is not known if the sixteenth volume issued in September 1925 had any associated supplementary woodblock prints, as it consisted solely of a bibliography, chronology, and other notes, was issued. It is not known whether the last volume was accompanied by a print. 

[3] [The] Female Image: 20th Century Prints of Japanese Beauties, Amy Riegle Newland and Hamanaka Shinji, Abe Publishing Ltd and Hotei Publishing, 2000, p. 97, no. 124 and p. 196, no. 124.

[4] The Women of Shin Hanga: The Judith and Joseph Barker Collection of Early-Twentieth-Century Japanese Prints, Kendal Brown, et. al, Fisher Gallery, University of Southern California, p. 20-21, fn60 "Shima Sei'en (1892-1970) designed a 1922 series depicting women from Chikamatsu Monzaemon's (1653-1725) kabuki plays."

Light in Darkness: Women in Japanese Prints of Early Shōwa (1926-1945), Kendall H. Brown, et. al., Fisher Gallery, University of Southern California, 1996, p. 53, cat. 54 "..Shima Seien's 1923 Departed Spirit (cat. 54), presents the ghostly visage of an oiran, the highest rank of courtesan."

[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, p. 169, pl. 208 "The departed spirit of a courtesan, from an untitled series, c. 1923." "As a whole, the series does not appear to have a unified theme..."

[5] 18th Century Japan Culture and Society, C. Andrew Gerstle, Taylor and Francis, 2012, p.12.

[6] " Nishiki no Ura An Instance of Censorship and the Structure of a Sharebon," Peter F. Kornicki appearing in Monumenta Nipponica, Summer, 1977, Vol. 32, No. 2 (Summer, 1977), Sophia University, p. 164. Kornicki gives Yugiri's age at death at 24, but Gerstle above gives it as 22. 

Print Details

The Heroine Yūgiri in Yūgiri Awa no Naruto #2631

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彫刻 山岸主計 chōkoku Yamagishi Kazue

(carved by Yamagishi Kazue)

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 西村熊吉  tezuri Nishimura Kumakichi

(hand printed Nishimura Kumakichi)

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