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Illustration of the Navy Landing at Sukuchi Village from the series Chronicle of the Conquest of Kagoshima

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Illustration of the Navy Landing at Sukuchi Village

from the series 

Chronicle of the Conquest of Kagoshima

by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1877

IHL Cat. #460

About This Print

One of many triptych prints by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) chronicling various battles of the Satsuma Rebellion.  This print depicts a night time landing of naval forces in the early March battle of Tabaruzaka Hill in northern Kagoshima, one of the most intense campaigns of the war.  Interestingly, this print omits all references (in the form of cartouches containing names) to specific rebel leaders or government military officers involved in the events, an almost universal component of Satsuma Rebellion prints.

The Battle of Tabaruzaka

Source: “The Satsuma Rebellion of 1877. From Kagoshima through the Siege of Kumamoto Castle", James H. Buck, Monumenta Nipponica 28, 4 p. 427-446.
The battle at Tabaruzaka Hill was the turning point of the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877.  Imperial forces emerged victorious, but with over 4,000 killed or wounded on each side.  The Meiji government's campaign against the rebels and their leader Saigo Takamori began in early March and this print likely depicts action associated with a final assault by government forces on March 19.  The assault by government forces came by sea and from the hills above and we can see a line of government soldiers and artillery on the ridge top in the right panel.

The first important rebel casualty happened at Tabaruzaka, when Shinowara, one of Saigō's trusted commanders, died in the opening moments of the battle.

Undated photo of damaged storehouse at Tabaruzaka battlefield

For readers of Japanese the Kagoshima Prefecture's website provides the following commentary on this print:


The Emperor's Poem

Source: Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852-1912, Donald Keene, Columbia University Press, 2002, p. 582.
The following tanka was composed by Emperor Meiji in November 1902 as his train passed through Tabaruzaka:
mononofu no
matsu mo oiki ni
narinikeru kana

At Tabaruzaka
Where warriors once attacked
And fought in battle,
Now even the sapling pines
Have turned into aged trees.

Tabaruzaka Battlefield Park, Kumamoto 田原坂 熊本

A small part of the battlefield is now set up as a park, with markers and monuments placed along the road where events took place. At the park, a monument with a list of all casualties on both sides is next to the museum as well as a grave with the first 20 Meiji troops dead.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #460
 Title Illustration of the Navy Landing at Sukuchi Village
(Kaigun Sukuchi-mura jōriku no zu 海軍須口村上陸之図)
 Series Chronicle of the Conquest of Kagoshima
(Kagoshima seitōki no uchi 鹿児嶌征討全記之内)
 Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
應需 大蘇芳年 ōju Taiso Yoshitoshi
 Seal none
 Date April 23, 1877 四月廿日三 [see publisher's seal below]
綱嶋亀吉 Tsunashima Kamekichi [Tsujiokaya Kamekichi 辻岡屋亀吉;Marks: pub. ref. 549; seal not shown]

畫工 月岡米次郎 [artist Tsukioka Yonejirō]
[artist's address]

出版人 綱嶋亀吉 [publisher Tsunashima Kamekichi]
[publisher's address]
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition fair - wrinkling and soiling; damage along bottom and right margin
 Genre ukiyo-e; senso-e
Price 6 sen [see publisher's seal above]
 Format horizontal oban triptych
 H x W Paper 14 x 9 3/4 in.  (35.6 x 23.4 cm) each sheet
 Collections This Print The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University, 201-3470, 201-3471, 201-3472; Rarebooks National Diet Library 8-5-1-1 01-004, 005, 006;
 Reference Literature
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