A MILLION QUESTIONS
TWO MILLION MYSTERIES
Port Townsend, Washington
Long Live Japan - 100
Victories, 100 Laughs
日本萬歳 - 百撰百笑
Although trimmed it is
Slightly trimmed with
Japanese album backing.
Note: There are other
copies of this print in the collections
of Waseda University, the
Library of Congress
and the Princeton University Art Museum.
For the significance of
the dragonfly or tombo representing Japan
go to our
Tombo index/glossary page.
"During the war with
China, as throughout most of his career, Kiyochika revealed two faces, one
lyrical and one comic. The lyric impulse during this period was reserved for
the triptych format, while the comic spirit found expression in a series of
single-sheet color woodblocks entitled 'One Hundred Victories, One Hundred
Laughs' (Hyakusen hyakushō). The publisher was Matsuki Heikichi, who was
also responsible for the majority of Kiyochika's war triptychs.
The series appeared in
two parts, with different prefixes to the main title. First came 'Long Live
Japan: One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs,' a total of fifty sheets
that appeared from as early as October 1894 and on into the late spring of
1895. At this point a table of contents was issued listing the first fifty
prints and announcing a change in the series title to 'Magic Lantern of
Society: One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs,' thus marking the end of
the war. The series continued on into early 1896, although it is doubtful
that the second set of fifty was ever completed."
Note: The title 'Hyakussen
hyakushō' is a pun on the homonyms that can be read either as "One Hundred
Selections, One Hundred Laughs" or as "One Hundred Battles, One Hundred
Victories," a common phrase at that time.
Each of three threatening
wasps represents a Western power.
The one closest to the
head of the Chinese 'pig' is England - 英.
The one furthest from the
imploring head is Russia - 露, I think.
I am not sure, but I think
the wasp with the Toulouse-Lautrec look
may represent France - 佛.
another topic we ran across a rather odd poem which it would appear was
written by Edwin Arnold (エドウィン・アーノルド: 1832-1904) even though he wrote that
it was the translation of letter from a Japanese officer serving in Korea.
But was it? Entitled A Japanese Soldier it was based on an event in
the life - the death - of the bugler Shirakami Genjirō, a hero of the
Sino-Japanese War. Actually many people wrote about him, but it is the
Arnold poem which caught our attention - especially the first stanza and how
it seems to relate to this print. The long braid on the sobbing Chinese
'pig'. Clearly the Japanese, like the British, felt an overwhelming sense of
superiority. Below is the first stanza.
Bugler in the Line!
You shall let our
Why the kiku shine;
Why the Sun-flag,
Bright from field to
Drives the Dragon,
Makes the Pig-tails
It is the last line
that gets us most.
Also, the reference to
kiku is to the
Japanese flag. See our
on our Hil thru Hor page.
One more thing: It was
set to music by
someone named B. J. F.