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Kyōsai hyakuzu, White Sake for Otafuku, No Medicine for Foolishness (Otafuku ni shirozake, Baka ni tsukeru kusuri wa nai)


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Otafuku ni shirozake

(White Sake for Otafuku)

Baka ni tsukeru kusuri mo nai

(No Medicine for Foolishness)

from the series Kyōsai Hyakuzu

by Kawanabe Kyōsai, 1866

Kyōsai hyakuzu, Sosō
IHL Cat. #752

About this Print and the Series Kyōsai Hyakuzu

The Print
The second part of the print's title baka ni tsukeru kusuri wa nai is a proverb meaning "there is no cure for a fool."  Certainly the gentleman in the lower right is acting like a drunken fool, performing some disgusting act that provokes both consternation and hilarity.  At the top of the print an otafuku (a homely woman, but also the goddess of mirth) dances and to the right of her bottles of shirozake (sweet white sake) are evident. 

Compare this print with the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston copy below on the right.  They are certainly different printings and they appear to be printed using different woodblocks. While this collection's print has crisper lines than the Boston print, indicating an earlier printing, it may well be a later printing from re-carved woodblocks.

click on image to enlarge

The Series
Source: Comic Genius: Kawanabe Kyōsai, Oikawa Shigeru, Clark Timothy and Forrer Matthi, Tokyo Shinbun, 1996, p. 206.
This print was issued as part of the series the Kyōsai hyakuzu 狂斎百図 (One Hundred Pictures by Kyōsai) which consists of more than 200 pictorializations of proverbs and depictions of famous subjects unrelated to proverbs. The prints were published continuously from 1863 to 1866* by the publisher Wakasaya and the works were later reprinted in album form by the publisher Ōkura Magobei (Ōkuraya) in 1881 and 1886.  The prints in this collection are likely from one of Ōkura Magobei's reprint editions, as they show evidence of having been removed from an album. 

One hundred of the proverbs depicted in Kyōsai hyakuzu were translated into French in 1885 under the title Cent Proverbes Japonais by Francis Steenackers and Ueda Tokunosuke.

This print series was very popular, enhancing Kyōsai's reputation and making a large profit for the publishers.

*1863-1866 are the most common publication dates provided for these prints, though the literature cites dates as early as 1862 for the first publication date and reprints of this series are still being made.  The prints were first issued by publisher Wakasaya Yoichi (aka Jakurindō Yoichi) as single-sheet prints, sold in ten print packages in a decorative envelope.  Ōkura Magobei (aka Yorozuya Magobei) re-published the prints in bound book/album form in the 1880s.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description White Sake for Otafuku, No Medicine for Foolishness 
 おたふくに白酒 ばかにつける薬はない
 Otafuku ni shirozake, Baka ni tsukeru kusuri mo nai 
 Artist  Kawanabe Kyōsai (1831-1889)
 Series Kyōsai hyakuzu 狂斎百図 (One Hundred Pictures by Kyosai)
Seisei Kyōsai 惺々狂斎
 Seal of the Artist
artist's stylized seal below signature
 Publication Date
September 1866 (Bunkyū 3)
 Publisher unknown - originally issued by Wakasaya Yoichi in 1866 and then reprinted in book form by Ōkura Magobei
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - it is difficult to tell if the yellowing of this paper is due to toning or if the paper was originally this color
 Genre ukiyo-e; giga (comic print)
 Format koban [Vertical yotsugiri (quarter ôban)]
 H x W Paper
 7 5/8 x 5 3/8 in. (19.4 x 13.7 cm)
 H x W Image
 6 5/8 x 4 3/8 in. (16.8 x 11.1 cm)
 Collections This Print
 Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 11.22657, 11.36975; 11.45393.23 (uncut sheet)
 Reference Literature
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