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VJP title
Utamaro print showing


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Tsukioka Kôgyo (月岡耕漁)


Tsukioka Kôgyo (月岡耕漁) was the son of innkeepers in Nihonbashi, Tokyo. His mother (surnamed Sakamaki) married the ukiyo-e master Tsukioka Yoshitoshi in 1884, and the young Kôgyo took lessons and a new surname from his illustrious stepfather. He also studied with the painter and ukiyo-e printmaker Ogata Gekkô (1859-1920), who gave him the name Kôgyo.

Although he also designed some fine kachô-e ("bird and flower prints"), the classical theater attracted Kôgyo over the course of his career. Perhaps he had been encouraged by his association with Yoshitoshi, who was trained in chanting. Kôgyo was a skilled draftsman and print designer, worthy enough to inherit Yoshitoshi's artist seals in October 1910 and carry on the practice of traditional ukiyo-e printmaking. Kôgyo designed several large series of prints on the theme of , among them the admired Nôgaku hyakuban ("One Hundred Dramas"), circa 1922-1926, in the vertical ôban format. That series included impressive painterly effects and beautifully applied colorants in gradated printings. Kôgyo's other well-known series was published in the horizontal ôban format, as in the example shown below.


The ôban-size print illustrated here is from the series 'Nôgaku zue' ("Pictures of Plays"), published in 1897-1902 by Matsuki Heikichi (Daikokuya). This impression is well printed, with deep colors and metallic pigments. It is dated December 20, 1902 and depicts an actor in the role of a shôjô, a mythical being with red hair and complexion who was extremely fond of wine. The large jar is filled with rice wine (saké). In ukiyo-e, shôjô were typically portrayed in advanced states of drunkenness, at times leaning nearly senseless against sake jars, which afforded opportunities for humans to harvest their red hair to make a special dye. Said to live by the sea, shôjô were supposed to live as monkeys. The name shôjô also means "orangutan," an allusion made explicit by the drawing of an orangutan on a second "page" of the simulated book or album at the lower left of Kôgyo's design. The play based on this theme involves a man named Kofu, who dreams of becoming rich by selling sake. He encounters a shôjô who dances for him and gives him a jar filled with the wine that never runs dry, as though replenished from a magic fountain. Kôgyo's design is known in other impressions with different coloring and shading on the sake jar. © 2001-2019 by John Fiorillo


  • Keyes, R.: Courage and Silence: A Study of the Life and Color Woodblock Prints of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. [Dissertation] Ann Arbor: University Microfilms, 1982, p. 66.
  • Pound, E. and Fenollosa, E.: The Classic Noh Theatre of Japan. New York, 1959, pp. 46-48.
  • Stephens, A.: The New Wave: Twentieth-century Japanese Prints from the Robert O. Muller Collection. Leiden, 1993, pp. 94-95.
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