Meiji prints

  Design: Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915)  
  Print title: February: A snowy twilight at Matsuchiyama hill  
  Series title: Views of the famous places in Tokyo  
  Size: 35.1 x 23.5 cm (ōban)  
  Original woodblock print    
  Photography: Jacques Commandeur
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Kiyochika Sumida River At Night


Special effects: embossing (kara-zuri) on the snow; embossed fabric printing (nuno-me-zuri) on the pink and light beige cartouches.

Published in 1896 by Inoue Kichijirrō.

A simultaneous view of the prints in this triptych can be seen here.

This triptych offers a great view from Mokujima in Tokyo towards the west-bank of the Sumida river. In the background we see the west-bank of the Sumida river, with on the left Shōden shrine located on top of Matsuchiyama hill, and Imado bridge crossing the mouth of the San’yabori canal leading up to the famous Yoshiwara district. On both sides of this bridge many restaurants are located. More to the right Imadochō quarter is displayed. In the foreground we see the Takeya ferry making its crossing from Mimeguri Inari shrine in Mokujima to Imado bridge on the west-bank of the river.

This third part of the triptych also contains a singularly dwarfed paddle wheel steamboat providing service up and down the Sumida river.

Artist’s name in lower right of the print area:

Character Reading Meaning Translation
ko small  
hayashi woods  
kiyo purify Kobayashi
shita intimate Kiyochika

Followed by red Kiyochika seal.

Series title in light beige cartouche*):

Character Reading Meaning Translation
kyō capital  
mei name  
sho place  
shin new  
kei view Views of the
no ’s famous places in Tokyo:
uchi home  
kisa second  
ragi month February

Print title in adjacent pink cartouche:

Character Reading Meaning Translation
matsu wait  
chichi breast  
yama hill  
yuki snow  
no ’s  
taso yellow A snowy twilight
gare dark at Matsuchiyama

Followed by this haiku:


which reads:

Tokunoka ni
hazuma ya
yuki no watashibune

and may be translated into:

The smell of virtue
urges it on:
Ferryboat in the snow

On this print Henry D. Smith (1988) comments: ‘ Second month: Matsuchi Hill at Dusk under Snow ... is the finest of all Kiyochika’s triptychs of the years after the war with China. The composition reflects both the influence of traditional painting, with large areas of unprinted white, and Kiyochika’s own Western-influenced taste for the use of enlarged foreground objects. The object in this case is the Takeya ferry that crossed the Sumida river from Mimeguri shrine to Imado bridge at the entrance to San’ya Canal.’

For more information on Imado bridge, the San’ya canal, and Matsuchiyama hill, please also visit my Hokusai Ehon Sumidagawa website.


Provenance: Collecting Japanese Prints (CJP)

*) With many thanks to Naoko and Shinji Ōba for helping me with the translation of the text in this print.

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