Hotei Japanese Prints

Hotei Japanese Prints Open on Saturday, or during the week by appointment.
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Hotei Japanese Prints always has several hundred Japanese prints in stock, as well as c. 80 scroll paintings, a small selection of illustrated books and a growing number of objects ranging from ceramics by artists such as Hamada Shoji and Shimaoka Tatsuzō, bronze vases and objects by Nakajima Yasumi, early 20th century lacquer, mizusashi (water containers) and cloisonné. We are located on the second floor of the beautiful Japan museum SieboldHuis in Leiden. Every year, in early winter, Hotei is a participant of the PAN Artfair in Amsterdam.

17/06/2020
EDO AMUSEMENT: THE KABUKI THEATRE

Utagawa Kunimasa IV (1848-1920), 1886. More kabuki prints on our new acquisitions page: https://tinyurl.com/ya34zy9j

Interior of Chitose-za kabuki theatre in Tokyo, showing the various stages of a play with a flip-through inset featuring six scenes. The theatre opened in 1873 as the Meiji theatre, re-opened and renamed in February 1885 as Chitose-za.

The theatre is filled with visitors. The audience is crammed together in the spectator boxes. Two kinds of seating were available: on the floor direct in front of the stage (these were non-reserved seats) and more luxurious seating to the side of the stage which one needed to reserve.
It was customary to eat, drink and talk through the plays and it was noisy, crowded and lively. Famous moments or lines were met with loud applause.

To the left one of the key features of Kabuki: the hanamichi (flower path): the walkway from the back of the theatre, through the audience towards the stage. This was used by the actors to make their entrance upon the stage.

Prints showing the interiors of theatres were an established genre since the 1780s. It allowed artists to design prints with a strong perspective (uki-e). Some were single sheets but also many triptychs were designed. In some cases, as is shown here, the center of the print would have several scenes pasted over each other. The same was done with the heads of actors and when viewed quickly after each other one could see the change of expression on his face. Prints with these multiple prints pasted over one another were called shikake-e.

HASEGAWA’S CRÊPED PRODUCTIONS: A GLOBAL HIT | Crêped calendars published by Hasegawa Takejirō in the first half of the 2...
09/06/2020

HASEGAWA’S CRÊPED PRODUCTIONS: A GLOBAL HIT | Crêped calendars published by Hasegawa Takejirō in the first half of the 20th century. Eight calendars available on our website here: https://tinyurl.com/ycftvg2n

Meiji publishers soon found out there was a whole foreign market to explore when it came to crêped prints. In particular, crêped booklets (chirimen-bon) were popular with expats in Japan and foreigners overseas. The innovative publisher Hasegawa Takejirō (1853–1938) was a true entrepreneur and started the commercial production of many crêped books.

His earliest appeared under the Kobunsha imprint in the mid-1880s. Around 1889 he was publishing under T. Hasegawa and Hasegawa & Co. He specialized in European languages, featuring Japanese subjects, catering to the foreign community and Western clientele overseas. Hiring famous foreign residents for the translations and outstanding Japanese artists as illustrators, these booklets were a great success. His crêped booklets of Japanese fairy tales and legends in particular gained worldwide popularity. They were translated in ten European languages ( for example English, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Danish and Russian) and distributed all over the world.

Hasegawa expanded his business with other publications, including novelty items such as calendars. He published these in several forms: crêped calendars bound together with silk thread in book-format (in regular and unusual shapes such as a diamond shape), but also calendars that more closely resemble the contemporary format: these consisted of small tanzaku prints (long vertical size), in a cardboard holder decorated with crêped paper.

Similar to the custom now, calendars were discarded after they had served their purpose. These surviving calendars by Hasegawa, in excellent condition, are therefore a rare find.

JAPANESE CRÊPE PRINTS & VINCENT VAN GOGH | Anonymous, large mounted crêpe print, c.1880. Available here: https://tinyurl...
05/06/2020

JAPANESE CRÊPE PRINTS & VINCENT VAN GOGH | Anonymous, large mounted crêpe print, c.1880. Available here: https://tinyurl.com/yc9x4p2c

Crêping of textiles (chirimen) has a long history in Japan, while the crêping of paper appears to be a fad of the Meiji period (1868 -1912), but seems to have existed since around 1800. Chirimen-e (prints on crinkled paper) or crêped prints (crépons) were created by rolling a dampened and squeezed woodblock print around a bar and compressing it, creating a crinkled and textured surface, resembling textile. The original size was strongly reduced and the degree of crêping influenced the eventual size of the crêped end product.

There were two types of crêpe prints: the first were crêped versions of existing prints, which were commercially published without the intent to be crêped. The quality of these crépons is generally good. They span a wide subject range, and include works from established artists such as Hiroshige, Kunisada, and others.

Other prints were exclusively made to be turned into a crêpe print. The subject matter is often of a decorative nature: birds, flowers and beautiful women, and are often much larger than the regular prints. Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear (1889) shows such a large crêpe print in the background. Van Gogh had 19 crépons in his collection. He often used the word ‘crépon’ in his letters to denote Japanese prints in general. Some of these crépons were transformed into vertical hanging scrolls (kakemono-e).

These kakemono-e consist of at least three horizontal crêped ōban-sized sheets (c. 38 x 25 cm), pasted together. Bearing in mind the size-reduction, we can conclude that the woodblocks employed for printing these crêped kakemono-e would have been unusually large.

Looking at this kakemono, we see that the uncrêped top and bottom are decorated with a pattern of maple leaves.

Reference: Shigeru Oikawa, Japanese Crepe prints, Popular Collectibles in Van Gogh’s Time In: Chris Uhlenbeck, e.a. Japanese Prints, The Collection of Vincent van Gogh (2018)

HIROSHIGE’S VERTICAL TŌKAIDŌ | Prints from this series are available at our new acquisitions page : https://tinyurl.com/...
30/05/2020

HIROSHIGE’S VERTICAL TŌKAIDŌ | Prints from this series are available at our new acquisitions page : https://tinyurl.com/y7hw6j5a

The most important travel route of Edo Japan was the Tōkaidō road, connecting Kyoto to Edo (modern-day Tokyo). The ‘eastern sea route’ travelled along the sea coast of eastern Honshu and was made up of 53 post stations for travellers’ to refresh and rest. The route was a popular subject in art and literature. Starting at the center of Edo at Nihonbashi, it ended in Kyoto at the great Sanjo bridge.

Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), returned to the theme of the Tōkaidō at least 25 times in serial form during his prolific career. He also produced a number of single sheet prints and triptychs with scenery taken from the Tōkaidō route. The prints were designed in various formats: ōban, chūban and kōban, in horizontal as well as vertical compositions. Hiroshige’s Tōkaidō prints were met with great popularity and it is estimated over ten million prints have been pulled from the blocks.

His first and widely popular series featuring the route dates from c.1831-34: ‘The 53 stations of the Tōkaidō’, with 55 horizontal prints. Our previous post features a print from this series, which established Hiroshige’s reputation and was the start of his characteristic style of white borders and inverted rounded corners framing his compositions. Hiroshige made his last print series featuring the stations of the Tōkaidō in 1855, together with the publisher Tsutaya Kichizō. In this series, ‘Fifty-three famous views’ he depicted the stations in a similar way to his first Tōkaidō series, with a harmonious balance between figures and nature.

For this series however he chose the fashionable standing format, which is why this series is also known as the Vertical Tōkaidō. This change forced Hiroshige to rethink his compositional style. Hiroshige placed positioned objects and landscape elements on consecutive planes from the front to the back, creating a ‘stage curtain perspective’. This series proved to be popular and the blocks were used well into the Meiji period.

Reference: Uhlenbeck, Hiroshige, Shaping the Image of Japan (2008)

Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), Mishima: Morning Mist, from the series Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō Road. C. 1833-...
23/05/2020

Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), Mishima: Morning Mist, from the series Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō Road. C. 1833-34. You can find the print here: https://tinyurl.com/ybf52lfr

JAPAN’S TRAVEL CULTURE | In 1830 more than 4.7 million people visited the Great Ise shrine in Ise, Mie Prefecture. Everybody was taking to the roads in the early 19th century after the government relaxed travel restrictions. People loved to travel, choosing to use pilgrimage as their main excuse.

The Japanese highways were well equipped to handle throngs of travellers. Everywhere there were post stations to eat, sleep and have sex, and buy souvenirs such as a nice print to commemorate the trip. Robbery was a constant threat, but a credit card system allowed one to travel without cash. Travel guides showed travellers the way to the not-to-be-missed meisho (famous places).

Not only people but also goods were transported along the highways at super speed: if needed, a letter could be sent within two days from Kyoto to Edo, 600 km away. The whole of Japan was connected to the cultural centres unifying the country not only politically but also culturally.

This 'culture of movement’ was exploited by the publishers of prints and Hiroshige was their chosen artist to design the scenes of Japan on the road.

Reference: Uhlenbeck, Hiroshige: Shaping the Image of Japan (2008)

YOSH*TSUNE AND BENKEI | Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861), c.1847-50. To go directly to this triptych, click here: https://t...
15/05/2020

YOSH*TSUNE AND BENKEI | Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861), c.1847-50. To go directly to this triptych, click here: https://tinyurl.com/ycg3zzch

In the previous post we told the story of the fight at the Gojō Bridge in Kyoto between the notorious warrior monk Benkei and famous samurai Yosh*tsune. It is said that this was the 1000th battle fought by the warrior monk Benkei at this location , but the first he lost. Amazed by Yosh*tsune’s fighting skills, he became his loyal retainer afterwards.

In this triptych we see the two battling, the young nimble Yosh*tsune having a group of supernatural creatures by his side to aid him in battle: from kappa to tengu. In their middle an old man with a large nose and a red cloak is depicted: Sōjōbō, the king of the tengu. The print thus also refers to Yosh*tsune’s legendary upbringing.

At the age of ten, he was taken care of by monks of the Kurama temple, in the mountains close to Kyoto. Wandering around in the forest, he came across Sōjōbō. Tengu are supernatural beings, inhabiting forests and mountains in Japan, and are considered as gods. Sōjōbō has the strength of 1000 tengu combined. He recognized Yosh*tsune’s talent in the martial arts and made him his pupil, teaching him the arts of swordsmanship, tactics, and magic.

In his fight with Benkei, Yosh*tsune is often depicted flying through the air in the manner of a Tengu.

NEW ACQUISITIONS | Tsukioka Yosh*toshi (1839-1892), 1883. To go directly to this print, click here: https://tinyurl.com/...
13/05/2020

NEW ACQUISITIONS | Tsukioka Yosh*toshi (1839-1892), 1883. To go directly to this print, click here: https://tinyurl.com/y8v263xe

Minamoto no Ushiwakamaru on the right, battling with bandit Kumasaka Chōhan (left) better known as Benkei, from the series ‘Yosh*toshi's Courageous Warriors’ (Yosh*toshi musha burui).

Minamoto Yosh*tsune (1159 –1189) is one of the most famous samurai from Japanese history. His childhood name is Ushiwakamaru, which is used in the title of this print. Yosh*tsune was only fifteen when he defeated the notorious warrior monk in a spectacular battle that has been eternalized in many woodblock prints. Yosh*tsune is easily identified by his youthful appearance and his long ponytail. The battle took place at the Gojō Bridge in Kyoto. A sculpture near the bridge till today reminds passersby of this battle. After his defeat Benkei became a loyal retainer of Yosh*tsune.

This series dates from the end of Yosh*toshi´s career, when he produced some of his finest work, such as the series ‘One Hundred Aspects of the Moon’ and ‘New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts’.

New acquisitions can be found on our website, hotei-japanese-prints.com, under the tab prints > new acquisitions.

NEW ACQUISITIONS | Triptych by Tsukioka Yosh*toshi (1839-1892), 1886. This historical triptych is titled ‘A Woman Saving...
10/05/2020

NEW ACQUISITIONS | Triptych by Tsukioka Yosh*toshi (1839-1892), 1886.

This historical triptych is titled ‘A Woman Saving the Nation: A Chronicle of Great Peace’. The woman in question is Osame, pictured on the left, holding a dagger. Her husband, the fifth Tokugawa shogun Tsunayoshi (1646-1709) is dreaming of his favourite concubine. He is still blissfully unaware that her father, - Yanagisawa, the Lord of Dewa-, is planning to overthrow him. His wife will rescue him by killing Yanagisawa, saving not only her husband but also the nation by guarding peace and order. Tragically, afterwards she took her own life.

A luxurious print with extensive blind printing and gauffrage in many areas of the design. This triptych and other new acquisitions can be found on our website, under the tab prints > new acquisitions. To go directly to this print, click here: https://tinyurl.com/ycqzemhj

Diptych by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), c.1852-54.Two brothers are engaged in battle on a temple rooftop. Unaware of t...
22/04/2020

Diptych by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), c.1852-54.

Two brothers are engaged in battle on a temple rooftop. Unaware of their close relationship, they are reconciled at the end of their fierce duel.

This spectacular battle is one of the most famous scenes of the 19th century novel ‘The Diary of the Eight Dogs’ (Nansō Satomi Hakkenden). Written by Kyokutei Bakin, it tells the story of eight samurai half-brothers. Having descended from a dog, each hero includes the word ‘dog’ (inu) in their surnames and represents one of the eight samurai virtues.

On the right: Inuzuka Shino, representing filial piety. He is battling Inukai Kenpachi (chief of police, representing sincerity) . A dynamic composition with stunning color contrast and detail.

This diptych and other new acquisitions can be found on our website: https://tinyurl.com/ybbmggsl

De nieuwsbrief van April is zojuist verschenen, met daarin:- Crowdfunding actie LUMC.- Klus voor de isolatie tijd.- Cens...
21/04/2020
Hotei nieuwsbrief #3 April 2020

De nieuwsbrief van April is zojuist verschenen, met daarin:
- Crowdfunding actie LUMC.
- Klus voor de isolatie tijd.
- Censuur.
- Nieuwe aanwinsten.

NEW ACQUISITIONS | Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861). The brigand ferryman Senkaji Chōō, about to kill the enemy general Hōt...
30/03/2020

NEW ACQUISITIONS | Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861). The brigand ferryman Senkaji Chōō, about to kill the enemy general Hōtentei. From the series The 108 heroes of the Popular Suikoden – All Told. 1827-30.

The Suikoden is the Japanese adaptation of the 14th-century Chinese novel Shuihu zhuan, in which a group of 108 rebels fight injustice and corruption, leading them to be nicknamed ‘the Chinese Robin Hoods’.

In Kuniyoshi’s days a true Suikoden craze erupted. The huge urban population of Edo lived in peace and prosperity, but were kept in line by strict social order. Not surprisingly, these heroes who challenged and rebelled against authority were an inspiration to many.

Kuniyoshi was the first artist to visualize these Chinese rebels in a series of single-sheet colour prints, leading to his breakthrough. The dynamic and versatile designs were hugely popular with the public, and what had started out as a commission of five prints turned into a series of 74. The bandits – a remarkable number of them tattooed- are shown in the midst of brutal battles with enemies, or alone in a characteristic pose. It seems Kuniyoshi suffered from horror vacui as all prints are jam-packed with detail. Outstanding are the elaborate tattoo and textile patterns, the latter is seen as a direct result of Kuniyoshi’s upbringing in a household of silk-dyers.

Reference:
-Klompmakers, Inge, Of Brigands and Bravery: Kuniyoshi's Heroes of the Suikoden (1998).
-Andon 87. Japan Tattoo: Tattoos in Japanese Prints (2009).

NEW ACQUISITIONS | Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861). Byōtaichū Setsuei (left) and Shōsaran Bokushun (right) fighting bareha...
29/03/2020

NEW ACQUISITIONS | Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797–1861). Byōtaichū Setsuei (left) and Shōsaran Bokushun (right) fighting barehanded. From the series The 108 heroes of the Popular Suikoden – All Told. 1827-30.

The intricately printed full-body tattoo of the hero Byōtaichū Setsuei steals the show in this composition. Tattooing has a long history in Japan. In Edo Japan, irezumi (inserting ink) was used as a term to refer to tattoos that served as corporal punishment. Non-penal tattooing - horimono (things that are engraved) - emerged in the 17th century in cities such as Edo, Kyoto and Osaka among the large wealthy merchant class. Starting out as simple visual symbols and engravings, the earliest figurative and pictorial tattoo designs often marked the special relationship between two people.

Larger and more elaborate tattooing followed. Kuniyoshi’s tattooed heroes from the pictured Suikoden series led to the development of the full-body tattoo in Japan. Especially the rebellious and rough street knights (otokodate) and firemen of Edo could identify with these courageous and bold men and admiringly started imitating them. Like their heroes, they decorated their skins with a full-body tattoo. As Donald Richie states: “These illustrations – particularly those by Kuniyoshi – were immensely popular, and it is these that formed both the style and iconography of the Japanese pictorial tattoo.”

Today the Japanese tattoo is seen in technique, form and variety as unparalleled and held in high regard. Even so, because of their association from early to modern times with criminality, tattoos are met with mixed perception in Japan. For one, tattoos and missing fingers form the visual trademarks of the yakuza. Currently a shift can be seen where Japanese society at large seems to be more embracing and accepting of tattoos, and their appeal among the younger generation of yakuza declining. Prejudice and negative connotations still remain, with as its most well-known example the denial of tattooed customers in public bathing facilities.

Reference:
- Klompmakers, Inge, Of Brigands and Bravery: Kuniyoshi's Heroes of the Suikoden (1998).
- Andon 87. Japan Tattoo: Tattoos in Japanese Prints (2009).

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