Shin Hanga prints

  Design: Okada Yoshio (1934)  
  Title: Akashi  
  Series title: Picture scroll of Genji  
  Size: 33.9 x 28.5 cm (ōban)  
  Original woodblock print    
  Photography: Jacques Commandeur
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Okada Yoshio Akashi


Special effects: subtle gold mica in the patterns of the kimono.

As mentioned by Eric van den Ing on his Saru Gallery website, Genji emaki (i.e., Picture scroll of Genji) is a set of four prints illustrating four chapters of the Genji monogatari - The Tale of Genji, written by Murasaki Shikibu in the early 11th century. The four chapters illustrated in this series are: Akashi, Matsukaze, Hotaru and Wakana, which coincide with chapters 13, 18, 25, and 34 of the Genji monogatari, respectively.

During my visit to Japan in May 2017 printmaker David Bull invited me to join him on a one day trip to his home in Ome together with Toshikazu Doi-san and John Amoss. I was of course delighted to accept his invitation. In Ome he showed us a selection of the Japanese woodblock prints and books in his private collection. Among those were the other three prints in the Picture scroll of Genji series designed by Okada Yoshio (Dave’s copy of the Matsukaze print is unfortunately quite heavily foxed but his copies of the other two prints are in perfect condition), so I took the opportunity to take the following pictures of Dave’s copies of these other three beautiful prints in the series (click to enlarge):

Okada Yoshio Matsukaze Okada Yoshio Hotaru Okada Yoshio Akashi
Matsukaze Hotaru Wakana

Even better was that it transpired that David had acquired all the blocks for the making of this series of prints as a gift from Yoshio Okada himself. I had the great privilege that day in Ome of being allowed to uncover and open up the stack of blocks used in the making of the Akashi print for the very first time since David acquired these blocks. Here are some of the photos I made along the way (click to enlarge):

Okada Yoshio Akashi stack of blocks Okada Yoshio Akashi keyblock Okada Yoshio Akashi gold mica colour block
The stack of blocks after I cut the ropes
with a copy of the Akashi print on top
The key block The block for the gold mica pattern
on the kimono and the red Yoshi seal
Okada Yoshio Akashi light blue colour block Okada Yoshio Akashi hair block (1) Okada Yoshio Akashi hair block (2)
The block for the light
blue colour on the kimono
The block for the black hair The second block for the black hair

In August 2018 David Bull issued this great video discussing the impact these prints had on his printmaking career.

Published by Yūyūdō in the 1980s.

Red seal reading Yoshi in upper left area and bottom right margin of the print.

Names of the carver and the printer in bottom margin of the print:

Character Reading Meaning Translation
ho(ru) carve  
ki(ku) work Carver:
matsu pine  
ta rice field  
tora sign of the tiger  
storehouse Matsuda Torazō
su(ru) rub  
satsu print Printer:
ue upper  
sugi Japanese cedar  
kei Japanese Judas-tree  
ichi one  
husband Uesugi Keiichirō

This is the label on the accompanying folder of the print:

Okada Yoshio label

It contains the name of the designer, the series title, the print title, and the name of the publisher:

Character Reading Meaning Translation
oka hill  
ta rice field  
yoshi auspicious  
otto husband Picture by
ga picture Okada Yoshio
moku woodblock  
han printing Woodblock printing
gen origin  
shi family  
e picture  
maki scroll Genji picture scroll
aka(rui) bright  
ishi stone Akashi
gen limit  
tei determine  
ban number  
ban number Limited number 410
han printing  
moto foundation Publisher:
shū come out  
han printing Yūyūdō publication


Provenance: Fuji Arts

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