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The Notice Board at Yoshitsune's Cherry Tree from the series Dōraku Kyōkai (Hobby Association)


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

The Notice Board at Yoshitsune's Cherry Tree

from the series

Dōraku Kyōkai (Hobby Association)

by Kobayashi Kiyochika, 1895

To と from the series Kyōiku Iroha tango

IHL Cat. #839

About This Print

This print is one of twelve in the rarely seen series Dōraku Kyōkai. It is a satire of an episode in the classic struggle between the Genji and Heike clans in medieval Japan in which Yoshitsune, the Genji clan general and superior of the warrior Kumagai, foretells that Kumigai will be faced with killing Atsumori, a young warrior of the Heike clan whose mother has previously saved Kumagai's life. Yoshitsune devises a tragic solution for Kumigai, placing a notice board near Kumigai's camp, by a cherry tree, which reads: 

Here stands a rare double-flowering cherry tree from the south. If anyone cuts off a branch, his punishment, following the ancient case of the Maple Tree, shall be to cut off one finger for each branch cut. Second Month, 1184.1

As written in Japanese, it is layered with multiple meanings. In the context of the legend, the hidden meaning is "Anyone killing a son must kill his own son" meaning Kumagai must kill his own son rather than Atsumori. This story is the basis of several famous Kabuki plays including Kumagaijinya.

Kiyochika's print shows a warrior (Kumigai?) with a surprised expression, holding onto a branch he has just broken off a cherry tree while reading the notice board message. Unfortunately, I've been unable to read or translate the message, but the message does seem to have a police notice on it prohibiting the braking of branches from the tree. 

The Series Hobby (Fun) Association
A series of twelve comic prints, each a satire on a Japanese legend. Printed in pair on an oban-size sheet, the prints were then cut apart. Many of the extant prints were removed from albums and both the National Diet Library and The British Museum have complete albums of all twelve prints. 

This series of Kiyochika "convey[s] a cartoon quality that foreshadows the manga usually associated with Japanese popular culture after World War Two."2 

uncut oban-size sheets - entire series
click on image to enlarge

1 Early Modern Japanese Literature: An Anthology, 1600-1900, ed. Haruo Shirane, Columbia University Press, 2002, p. 412.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description The Notice Board at Yoshitsune's Cherry Tree
note: title cartouche (see left) is unread
 Series Hobby Association [also seen translated as Hobby Club and Fun Club] 
 Dōraku Kyōkai 道樂協會 [道楽協会]
 Artist Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915)
Kiyochika 清親
 Seal Kiyo 清 (as shown above)
 Publication Date 1895 (Meiji 28)
Fukuda Hatsujirō 福田初次郎 [Marks: pub. ref. 070; seal not shown]
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition fair - wrinkling; soiling; mounting residue left edge verso; centerfold
 Genre ukiyo-e; giga
 Format horizontal chūban
 H x W Paper 
 6 7/8 x 9 5/16 in. (17.5 x 23.7 cm) 
 Collections This Print
 The British Museum 1989,0314,0.28 [entire series but no images shown]; National Diet Library Call Number YR12-159 [entire series but no images shown]
last revision:
5/23/2020 crated