Illustration of the Dutchman Engelbert Kaempfer’s Eastern Journey from the book Tōkaidō gojus̄an-tsugi Setonaikai

Oka Shikanosuke (1898-1978)

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Illustration of the Dutchman Engelbert Kaempfer’s Eastern Journey

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. #2352

About This Print

This print is the frontispiece and 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. This print depicts the Dutchman Engelbert Kaempfer's (1651-1716) "eastern journey" to Edo along the Tōkaidō in 1691. Kaempfer, a physician, scholar, naturalist and explorer spent two years in Japan as the doctor for the Dutch East India Company which was secluded by the shogunate on the island of Dejima in Nagasaki Bay. As the Company's physician he was allowed to make the annual visit to Edo to report and present gifts to the Shogun. His travels were instrumental in compiling his monumental work, The History of Japan. Commenting on his trip along the Tōkaidō, Kaempfer noted:

(In addition to) the great barons passing to and from Yedo, and escorted by trains of hundreds or even thousands of men . . . . the roads are always thronged by ordinary citizens on business or on pilgrimage at certain seasons to one of their numerous holy sites. . . It is scarce credible that even here (in the countryside), it is on most days more crowded than a public street in any of the most populous towns of Europe.1

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.2

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

website of the National Association of Japan-America Societies
2 "Sketch-tour Books and Print of the Early Books Twentieth Century", appearing in Andon 37 , June 1991,

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #2352
 Title Illustration of the Dutchman Engelbert Kaempfer’s Eastern Journey
 和蘭人 エンゲルベルト ケンフエル東下リの東圖 [title as it appears in table of contents]
 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
very small seal, possibly reading "Ni" in lower left corner
 Date March 15, 1920
 Edition first and only edition (not numbered)
 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; diagonal fold lower left margin, soiling in margins
 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 3/8 x 3 3/16 in. (11.1 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:
8/9/2020 created