Shin Hanga prints

  Design: Okada Yoshio (1934-2021)  
  Title: Akashi  
  Series title: Genji emaki (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.

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 was unfortunately quite heavily foxed but his copies of the other two prints were 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 David Bull Okada Yoshio Hotaru David Bull Okada Yoshio Wakana David Bull
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

Published by Yūyūdō in 1978 or 1979.

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

Names of the carver, printer, and paper maker 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
shō extract  
shi paper Paper maker:
sa assistant  
ki wood  
hajime one Sasaki Hajime

Yūyūdō publisher seal in lower left margin of the print.

The protective folder has the label:

Okada Yoshio Akashi label

in which the kanji 明石 read Akashi.

The direct inspiration for the Akashi woodblock print was the following Okada Yoshio illustration issued in the Shūkan Asahi magazine (click to enlarge):

Okada Yoshio Shukan Asahi Akashi

The latter illustration was again based on this water colour painting of Okada Yoshio (click to enlarge):

Okada Yoshio Akashi Water Colour Painting

which can be found on pages 56-57 of this book.

There are several people in the Tale of Genji called Akashi. Then, there is also a Japanese village called Akashi. The full name of the woman shown in this print of the Genji emaki set is actually Akashi no Kimi, also known as Akashi no Ue. Here she is depicted when still living in Akashi and after meeting Genji for the first time.

With the kind help of David Bull, in September 2018 I was able to obtain original copies of the other three prints in the Genji emaki series as well: Hotaru, Wakane, and Matsukaze.


Provenance: Mokuhankan

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