Himeji from the book Tōkaidō gojus̄an-tsugi Setonaikai

Oka Shikanosuke (1898-1978)

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 


from the book Tōkaidō gojus̄an-tsugi Setonaikai

by Mizushima Nihofu, 1920

Snow at Kinkaku Temple from the series New Selection of Noted Places of Kyoto

IHL Cat. #2356

About This Print

This print is one of twenty-nine colored woodblock prints designed by Mizushima for the sketch-tour book (travel journal) Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō [supplement] Seto Inland Sea issued in March 1920 by the publishing house Kanao Bun'endō. It appears in the Inland Sea portion of the book and depicts one of the shachihoko (a figure with the head of a tiger and body of a carp which, it was believed, would protect the castle in the event of a fire by spouting massive amounts of water.

Himeji Castle

Himeji-jo (Castle) was originally built in 1346. Throughout its history it was owned by thirteen warrior families, not the least of which was Hashiba (Toyotomi) Hideyoshi, the commoner who rose to become the de facto military dictator of Japan during the Sengoku-jidai (Civil War Era).  Lord Hideyoshi reconstructed the castle as a three storied structure in 1581.  In 1601, Ikeda Terumasa, son-in-law of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the shogun who defeated the Hideyoshi family, transformed the castle into its present five tiered configuration with three smaller donjons.  Unlike many European castles which had no real strategic defenses, Himeji-jo was built for warfare. The walls contain geometrically shaped sama, openings through which archers and gunners shot at attacking troops and ishiotoshi, an opening through which stones or boiling water were dumped on enemy soldiers scaling the wall. Despite its utilitarian purpose, the castle is nevertheless one of the most beautiful in Japan and was designated at UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993.

One of many shachihoko on Himeji Castle

Eleven shachihoko are mounted on the Main Keep of the castle
image source: website of HimejijoPic

The Sketch-Tour Book:
Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō [supplement] Inland Sea

Issued in March 1920 by the publisher Kanao Tanejirō, this work has been called the last book of the sketch-tour genre. [For more information on this genre see the section "Sketch-Tour Genre" under the biography of Nakazawa Hiromitsu (1874-1964).]  Written and illustrated by Mizushima Nihofu the book contains twenty-nine color woodblock prints and forty-nine monochrome woodblock prints. In his article "Sketch-tour Books and Print of the Early Books Twentieth Century" Scott Johnson writes:
Nihou's [Nihofu's] travel journal text is further embellished with cartoons and lighthearted dialogue. Nihou was capable of creating powerful compositions on the post-card sized pages of this book. Perhaps because cartooning trained him to make the most of small areas, some of Nihou's woodcuts and line illustrations create muscular, nearly monumental effects by modest means. As a phenomenon of graphic art in book form, the sketch-tour book finished with Nihou's 1920 Tōkaidō gojus̄an-tsugi Fu Setonaikai fifteen years after Hiromitsu [Nakazawa Hiromitsu (1874-1964)] had started it with his pioneering Gojūsantsugi Suketchi.1

click on image to enlarge
image source: Princeton University Library
examples of black and while illustrations
click on image to enlarge
image source: Princeton University Library

click on image to enlarge
image source: Princeton University Library

1 "Sketch-tour Books and Print of the Early Books Twentieth Century", appearing in Andon 37 , June 1991,

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #2356
 Title Himeji
 姫路 [title as it appears on the right of the bottom margin]
 Book Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō [supplement] Seto Inland Sea [traveler's journal]
 Tōkaidō gojus̄an-tsugi Setonaikai [kikō] 東海道五十三次 瀬戸内海 [紀行]
 Mizushima Nihofu (Nihou) (1884-1958)
 not signed on print
 colophon - author: Mizushima Nihofu 著作者水島爾保布
 Seal of the artist
 no seal
 Date March 15, 1920
 Edition first and only edition
 Publisher 發行者 金尾種次郎 publisher Kanao Tanejirō
 發兌元 金尾文淵堂 publishing house Kanao Bun'endō
 Printer Nishimura Kumakichi 西村熊吉
 Carver unknown but possibly Ōkura Hambei 大倉半兵衛
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - overall light toning
 Genre shasei kikō (sketch-tour); zuroku 図録 (illustrated book)
 H x W Paper 7 5/16 x 4 7/16 in. (18.6 x 11.3 cm)
 H x W Image 4 x 3 3/16 in. (10.2 x 8.1 cm)
 Collections This Print Collections holding the entire book: University of Southern California Library DS894.59.T632 M59 1920; Princeton University Library DS894.59.T632 M59 1920 [entire book is online]; Smithsonian Freer/Sackler Galleries FSC-GR-780.419.1-2
 Reference Literature 
last revision:
8/11/2020 created