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Yanagi yu

Landscape with village and two women

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Yanagi yu 柳湯 

by Takehisa Yumeji, undated

(after an earlier 1915 design)

The Rising Moon from the series A Collection of Takehisa Yumeji's Pictures in Woodblock Print

IHL Cat. #2230

About This Print

This large-format undated print, likely issued in the 1970s or 1980s by the publishing house Yūyūdō, is after a design which originally appeared in Takehisa Yumeji's 1915 book of poetry titled Samisen-kusa (Shamisen Leaves), published by the Tokyo publisher Shinchōsha.  The original print appeared as one of six small woodblock prints bound into the book, as shown below.

Comparison: original 1915 print and this collection's large format woodblock reproduction

The Book, Samisen-kusa



The entire book can be found in the archive of Waseda University Library http://archive.wul.waseda.ac.jp/kosho/bunko03a/bunko03a_00548/bunko03a_00548.html

The six woodblock prints in the book

Source: Modern Japanese Prints 1912-1989, Lawrence Smith, British Museum Press, 1994, p. 51.

This immensely popular book typified the melancholy view of fragilely beautiful women which was Yumeji's special contribution to the culture of the Taisho era (1912-26) and which helped establish the atmosphere of the period. The six individual small-scale woodblock prints bound into the volume are not major pieces, but the cumulative effect of the book, which also includes many illustrations in line process, collotype and halftone, is significant. All are of young geishas and other professional female players of the samisen, a three-stringed instrument plucked by ivory plectra, which had been the most used instrument in popular entertainment since its introduction from the Ryukyu Islands in the seventeenth century. All the illustrations are after Yumeji's paintings or sketches, and the selection of poems was also made by him. These are ko-uta, short romantic songs sung to a samisen accompaniment. Yumeji writes in the preface 'This volume is dedicated to the young women of the land where the samisen blooms with cherry blossom'. The volume was published by Satō Yoshikatsu at Shinchōsha, Tokyo.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #2230
 Title Yanagi yu 柳湯
 Series originally appeared in the poetry book Samisen-kusa
 Takehisa Yumeji (1884-1934)
梦二画 Yumeji ga printed in left margin
artist's comma-shaped (tomoe) seal
 Publication Date Originally 1915, this edition unknown but likely c. 1970s-1980s
 Edition see above
悠々洞出版 Yūyūdō publishing
 Carver 彫師藤進 Itō Susumi
 Printer 摺遠藤忠雄 Toshihiro Endō
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent
 Genre fukusei hanga
 H x W Paper 18 3/4 x 12 3/8 in. (47.6 x 31.4 cm)
 H x W Image 17 15/16 x 10 15/16 in. (45.6 x 27.8 cm)
 Collections This Print
 Reference Literature
last revision:
1/10/2020 created