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Chikugo River from the series Japan Scenery Prints, Set 6: Tsukushi District

Sakamoto Hanjirō (1882-1969)

 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Chikugo River

from the series Japan Scenery Prints,

Set 6: Tsukushi District

by Sakamoto Hanjirō, 1918

Sakamoto Hanjirō (1882-1969)

IHL Cat. #2068

About This Print

This print by Sakamoto Hanjirō, pa semi-abstract view of the Chikugogawa in a heavy rain. It appears to be from the original set of five prints issued in 1918 by Nakajima Jūtarō titled Tsukishi District which was the sixth set of prints in the ten set series Japan Scenery Prints issued between January 1917 and April 1920. 

The titles of the prints in Sakamoto's sixth set are: Sea of FireMt. Mino [also seen translated as Mt. Mizunawa], Enoki Temple Shrine, Kami Harbor (Tsukushi Harbor) and Chikugo River.1 

This set of five prints by Sakamoto was reissued in 1970 by Katō Junji as part of the portfolio Five Views of Tsukushi.  For a comparison between the 1918 and 1970 releases of Chikugo River, see the images below. Both the original and newer portfolios are also pictured below. 

1 Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975, Helen Merritt, University of Hawaii Press, 1992, p. 264.

Visual Comparison Between the 1918 Release and the 1970 Release

click on image to enlarge
Top: the original 1918 release
Bottom: the 1970 release from recut blocks

Chikugo River

The Chikugo River (筑後川, Chikugo-gawa) flows through Kumamoto, Ōita, Fukuoka and Saga prefectures in Japan. With a total length of 143 kilometres (89 mi), it is the longest river on Kyūshū. It flows from Mount Aso and empties into the Ariake Sea.

source: The Japan Times https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/07/26/national/data-shows-kyushu-river-pump-systems-overwhelmed-2018-torrential-rains/

The Japan Times
KYUSHU Data shows Kyushu river pump systems were overwhelmed by 2018 torrential rains

A year aftertorrential rains hit western Japan, newly disclosed data by the FukuokaPrefectural Government showed that massive inland flooding of the sixtributaries flowing into the Chikugo River in the prefecture occurred becausethe amount of rain that fell is estimated to be about three to 10 times thecapacity of the pumping systems.

Experts pointto the difficulty of building infrastructure that can completely preventdisasters triggered by climate change, saying that the most effective way toprotect one’s life is to evacuate at an early stage.

On July 6 and 7last year, as the Chikugo River and its tributaries began to swellsimultaneously, the tributaries’ floodgates were closed to prevent water fromflowing back from the main stream. But the tributaries’ pumping systems failedto discharge the rainwater, resulting in the streams breaching their banks andflowing into farmlands and residential areas in the city of Kurume andsurrounding areas.

The Chikugo River in Flood near Karume
image source: https://kurumefan.com/tikugogawa-20180706 [accessed 3/28/2021]

About the Series "Japan Scenery Prints"

Source: Modern Japanese Prints 1912-1989, Lawrence Smith, British Museum Press, 1994, p. 42.
"Tsukushi is the ancient name of the area north-west of Kyushu [in the area of Chikuzen and Chikugo provinces] where Sakamoto was born. Sakamoto was rarely involved with sheet-prints, but like his colleagues on this series he had worked as a cartoonist and illustrator and had been a collaborator on the magazine Hōsun hence he was well used to graphic techniques. Indeed, his set [Tsukushi district] is the most strikingly designed in the series, combining impressionist, abstract and Expressionistic elements into a characteristically forceful blend."

Source: Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints - The Early Years, Helen Merritt, University of Hawaii Press, 1998, p. 274-276.

"The series consisted of ten sets of prints.  Each set was composed of five small landscapes and a cover print giving the name of the series, the name and number of the set, and the name of the artist.  In addition, each set was accompanied by a table of contents and colophon sheet in standard type.  Specific publication dates ranging from January 1917 through April 1920 indicate that each set was issued separately.  Since Ishii Hakutei (1882-1958) designed a total of three sets while the other artists did one or two each, it seems likely that Hakutei was the spearhead for the project.  The artists asked Igami Bonkutsu to carve the blocks and Nakajima Jūtarō to publish the series.

The Nihon fūkei hanga [Japan Scenery Prints] series was another experiment ... in creating modern prints through the cooperation of carvers and printers.  As they had done in the production of [the magazine] Hōsun, the artists put aside the self-carving/self-printing slogan.  The main point, they reasoned, was that they were designing for woodblocks and supervising the carving and printing themselves.

Since there is no indication of the edition size, the artists may have intended to follow the usual Japanese publishers' practice of making as many as they could sell.  The price is listed on each colophon sheet as one yen fifty-six sen for one set.  A notation of postage or shipping cost was pasted onto some of the colophons suggesting that sets were distributed by mail and indicating that Nakajima Jūtarō had not anticipated the problem of postage and had to improvise a means to tell his customers of the extra charge. Hiratsuka Un'ichi (1895-1997), who helped with the carving of some of the late sets while he was studying with Igami Bonkotsu, recalled seeing advertisements for the series in small magazines.

Although the series was neither carved nor printed by the artists, it marked a significant step toward creative independence by shifting the initiative from the hanmoto [publisher] to the artists." 

The Six Artist's Involved

 Artist Set # Set Title Date Issued
 Ishii Hakutei (1882-1958)1 北陸之部 Hokuriku District Jan. 8, 1917
 Morita Tsunetomo (1881-19332 会津之部 Aizu District Feb. 11, 1917
 Hirafuku Hyakusui (1877-1933)3 東北之部 Tohoku District Aug. 20, 1917
 Ishii Hakutei (1882-1958)4 下総之部 Shimōsa Distict Oct. 1917
 Morita Tsunetomo (1881-1933)5 天草之部 Amakusa District Dec. 25, 1917
 Sakamoto Hanjirō (1882-1969)6 筑紫之部 Tsukushi District May 18, 1918
 Kosugi Misei (1881-1964)7 琉球之部 Ryūkyū District Nov. 13, 1918
 Ishii Hakutei (1882-1958)8 朝鮮之部 Chōsen (Korea) Dec. 16, 1918
 Ishii Tsuruzō (1887-1973)*
9 東京近郊之部 Tokyo Suburbs Dec. 16, 1919
 Ishii Tsuruzō (1887-1973)10 日本アルプス之部 Japan Alps Apr. 15, 1920
elder brother of Hakutei

Original 1918 Colophon and Table of Contents for Set 6: Tsukushi District

click on image to enlarge
Source: National Diet Library Digital Collections

table of contents
click on image to enlarge
Source: National Diet Library Digital Collections
List of Print Titles and Subtitles from Table of Contents for Set 6: Tsukushi District

  Title Subtitle
Enokidera jinja
Enoki Temple Shrine
Tofurō hōmen yori nozomu
Kami no minato
Kami Harbor
Minō san
Mt. Min
 こもりのよりのぞむKomorino yori nozomu
Chikugo gawa
Chikugo River

Kurume fukin
Near Kurume
Hi no umi
Sea of Fire

Photographs of the 1918 and 1970 Portfolios
筑紫之部 Tsukushi District
Set Number Six from the series Japan Scenery Prints, 1918
As originally issued by Nakajima Jūtarō
筑紫五景 Five Scens of Tsukushi
As published in 1970 by Katō Junji (aka Kata Junzō) of
Nihon Hanga Kenkyūsho (Kenkyūjo) (Katō Print Institute)

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #2068
Chikugo River (Chikugogawa 筑後川)

Title as given in table of contents for 1918 first edition:
筑後川 ちくごがわ [Chikugogawa - Chikugo River]
Subtitle as given in table of contents for 1918 first edition:
 くるめふきん [Kurume fukin - near Kurume]
 Series Japan Scenery Prints, Set 6: Tsukushi District
 (日本風景版画 第集 筑紫之 Nihon fūkei hanga, dai-roku shū Tsukushi no bu)
Note: Overall series title is also seen translated as Landscape Prints of Japan.
 Sakamoto Hanjirō (1882-1969)
unread artist's seal
 Publication Date
 May 18, 1918
 Edition first
 Nakajima Jūtarō 中島 重太郎 of the Japan Scenery Prints Association 日本風景版会  [Marks: pub. ref. 368]
 Carver Igami Bonkotsu 伊上凡骨 (1877-1933)
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent - printers marks lower left margin and bottom margin
 Genre sosaku hanga (creative print)
 Format chūban
 H x W Paper 7 1/2 x 9 9/16 in. (19.1 x 24.3 cm)
 H x W Image 6 5/8 x 9 3/8 in. (16.8 x 23.8 cm)
 Collections This Print Artizon Museum 24326 - Chuo City, Tokyo  (image not shown); Cultural Heritage Database 178218 (image not shown); National Diet Library Call Number 422-30
 Reference Literature  Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975, Helen Merritt, University of Hawaii Press, 1992, p. 264-265; Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints - The Early YearsHelen Merritt, University of Hawaii Press, 1998, p. 275; Images of a Changing World: Japanese Prints of the Twentieth Century, Donald Jenkins, Portland Art Museum, 1983, p. 68.
last revision:
3/27/2021 created