JAPANESE PRINTS

A MILLION QUESTIONS

TWO MILLION MYSTERIES

 

 

Ukiyo-e Prints

浮世絵版画

Port Townsend, Washington

 

PUBLISHERS

版元

はんもと

HANMOTO

 

 

 

Glory Days!

The book we have all been waiting for

even if we didn't know it.

 

 

 

 

Above is Andreas Marks' latest contribution to the field of ukiyo-e

studies and it is a winner. In fact, there is nothing else like it which

we know of in English or any other Indo-European language.

It not only displays more than 2,300 publisher seals, but much, much more.

 

It is expensive. So, who then should purchase it?

 

1. The truly serious collectors of Japanese woodblock prints!

2. The relatives, lovers and/or devoted friends of those

who are serious collectors of Japanese prints!

3. Those who can afford it and want to curry favor with

a boss or mentor who collects!

4. Those who are obsessive about their collections!

5. All serious woodblock print dealers!

They aren't truly serious if they don't own a copy.

6. All major institutions which own woodblock print collections!

If they are strapped for funds right now then a major patron

or group of patrons should buy a copy and donate it.

7. And all quality libraries - university or otherwise -

which include large sections on Japanese art and culture!

 

 

PUBLISHERS

 

 

 

 

 WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT JAPANESE PUBLISHERS?

 

NOT MUCH!

 

As far as I know there is very little information - real information - to be found in English about  Japanese publishers. There may not be much more than that in Japanese. I don't know.  We do have some of the  addresses of the publishers and/or the personal names of the owners of  particular houses, but knowing an address in early 19th century Edo or Osaka doesn't tell us much more than knowing a particular address in modern Ulan Bator or  in ancient Rome. And yet several authors insist on providing these. Perhaps the addresses could be a jumping off point for further research. Don't hold your breath.

 

At least we do know something about the relationships between publishers and artists. By and large the artist was a contract worker. Publishers thought of themselves as the most important figures in the production process while from the perspective of some artists it was the other way around. This is not a chicken vs. egg issue. The artist needed the publisher and vice versa. And yet today we identify each print according to the name of the artist and rarely does the name of the publisher trip off the tongue.

 

Then why do we care? We care for several reasons: authentication is one. Porcelain collectors look for factory marks. Silver devotees look for telltale hallmarks. Identifying and knowing who the publishers were helps, but very little. But one of these days I think it may mean a lot more.

 

For a number of years I have wished that someone or some institution would organize an exhibition based on the prints coming from just one important publishing house or even several competing ones: Such an exhibition could be arranged chronologically, by artist, by theme, etc., and would begin to give us a better idea of the role and significance of such houses. Perhaps this is too academic an approach and would not be of interest to enough people or anyone but me for that matter. It is the big artistic names which draw the crowds and provide the revenue. But when you consider that certain publishers must have played very influential roles in shaping the market and the direction of public tastes this might not be such a bad idea. Consider the number of exhibitions which have been devoted just to Kuniyoshi: The standard for these exhibitions has always been based on genres or chronologies, but never by publishing houses.

CLICK ON THE IMAGES

OF THE PRINTS SHOWN BELOW TO SEE

LARGER EXAMPLES.

 

Organizing Japanese Publisher Seals

By Categories

 

Lists of Japanese publishers are often organized generally according to shapes. This is not exactly a hard and fast rule because there is a miscellaneous category, but overall that is how it is done.  Frank A. Turk in his volume The Prints of Japan (p. 305) states: "The trade marks given here are arranged in accordance with the scheme first used by Mr. B. W. Robinson in his monograph on Kuniyoshi...." This may not be exactly true because Robinson may have been following the Japanese model. However, as Turk adds "...a scheme which in practice has proved to be very useful indeed." The categories are:

1. WITHIN A CIRCLE

(Go to the alphabetical list on the next page for more information about each publisher and links to print images with each particular seal. To do this click on the image of the baren at the bottom of this page. Also, the black or white borders found on some of the examples shown here were added by us for graphic purposes and do not exist on the actual prints.)

 

 

 

 

Echizen-ya Hachiemon

Marks #043

 Fukuda Kumajirō

Marks #071

Hōeidō

Marks #525

 

Murata-ya Jirōbei

Marks #359

Masugindō

Marks #304

Kobayashi-ya Taijirō

Marks #257

 

Iba-ya Kyūbei

Marks #126

Iwato-ya Kisaburō

Marks #173

Ise Mago

Marks #150

 

 Maru-ya Jimpachi

Marks #294

Maru-ya Bun'emon

Marks #292

Ōtaya Takichi

Marks #423

     

Maru-ya Seijirō

Marks #299

Iba-ya Senzaburō

Marks #127

Ōyama Toyojirō

Marks #429

     

 

 

 

 

Chōji-ya Kichi

Marks #028

 

 

 

 

 

2. WITHIN A HEXAGON OR OCTAGON

Daikoku-ya Kinnosuke

Marks #033

 

3. WITHIN A SQUARE

 

 

Koga-ya Katsugorō

Marks #262

Sano-ya Kihei

Marks #446

Shimizu

Marks #328

(Andreas Marks identifies this

publisher as Mikawa-ya Seiemon)

 

 

 

Sa

Marks #U258

Nishimura Yohachi

Marks #391

Sawa-ya Kōkichi

Marks #460

 

Eijudō

Marks #391

( Marks identifies this publisher

as Nishimura-ya Yohaichi.)

Ebisu-ya Shōshichi

Marks #039

Arita-ya Seiemon

Marks #014

 

Sumimaru-ya Jinsuke

Marks #494

Murata-ya Jirōbei

Marks #359

Sano-ya Tomigorō

Marks #448

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sakai-ya Kurobei

Marks #439

 

 

4. WITHIN A RECTANGLE

Aito

Marks #435

Arita-ya Seiemon

Marks #014

Arita-ya Seiemon

Marks #014

 

 

 

Daikoku-ya Heikichi

Marks #209

Daikoku-ya Kinnosuke

Marks #033

Daikoku-ya Kinnosuke

Marks #033

 

 

 

Mikawa-ya Tetsugorō

Marks #329

Gusoku-ya Kahei

Marks #085

Honsei

Marks #123

 

 

 

Ebisu-ya Shōshichi

Marks #039

Ebisu-ya Shōshichi

Marks #039

Ebi-ya Rinnosuke

Marks #040

 

 

 

Ebi-ya Rinnosuke

Marks #040

Etsu-Ka

Marks #045

Fujioka-ya Keijirō

Marks #063

 

 

 

Ise-ya Kanekichi

Marks #145

Ise Yoshi

Marks #U095

Izumi-ya Ichibei

Marks #180

 

 

 

Izumi-ya Ichibei

Marks #180

Izumi-ya Ichibei

Marks #180

Kaga-ya Kichiemon

Marks #195

 

 

 

Kaga-ya Yasubei

Marks #196

Kawaguchi-ya Uhei

Marks #232

 

Ki-ya Sōjirō

Marks #252

 

 

 

Maru-ya Heijirō

Marks #293

Minato-ya Kohei

Marks #332

Sano-ya Kihei

Marks #446

 

 

 

Takemura Hideo

Marks #524

Tsujioka-ya Bunsuke

Marks #548

Tsujioka-ya Bunsuke

Marks #548

 

 

 

Tsunashima Kamekichi

Marks #549

Tsunoi

Marks #552

Uo-ya Eikichi

Marks #442

 

 

 

Uo-ya Eikichi

Marks #442

Yamaguchi-ya Tōbei

Yorozu-ya Magobei

 

 

 

Tama-ya Sosuke

Hirano-ya Shinzō

Marks #114

Izutsu-ya Shōkichi

Marks #188

 

Ise-ya Kanekichisaburo

Ise-ya Sanjirō

Marks #153

Kazusa-ya Iwakichi

 

Maru-ya Kiyūshirō

Murata-ya Tetsu

Tsuru-ya Kiemon

 

CORRECTION:

 Manzen

is now listed as

Yorozu-ya Zentarō

Marks #629

Kawaguchi-ya
Chōzō

Marks #230

Tenki

Marks #536

 

Azuma-ya Daisuke

Marks #025

Edo-ya Matsugoro

Marks #048

Jōshū-ya Kinzō

Marks #192

 

Maru-ya Seijirō

Kinkadō (Konishi)

Marks #242

Kagi-ya Shōjirō

Marks #198

This attribution is tentative.

See the page with the alphabetical listing for the reason why.

Now known to be Kagi-ya Shōbei as of 7/31/09.

 

Izutsu-ya Shōkichi

Marks #188

Wata-ya Kihei

Oden

Marks #U246

 

Iba-ya Senzaburō

Marks #127

Ōta-ya Takichi

Marks #423

Kawaguchi-ya Shōzō

Marks #231

 

Ōta-ya Takichi

Marks #423

Ito-ya Shōbei

Marks #167

Nishi Shin

Marks #392

 

 

Kawaoto

Marks #U130

Nishimura Yohachi

Marks #391

 Funazu Chūjirō

Marks #077

 

Sano-ya Kihei

Marks #446

Originally identified as Mita-ya Kihachi

(This has been corrected from an earlier attribution thanks to the careful attention of our contributor ED. Thanks ED!)

 

Now known to be Mikawa-ya Kihei

according to Dr. Andreas Marks.

Hon-ya Seishichi

Marks #123

 

Jōshū-ya Kinzō

Marks #192

Ise-ya Ichibei

Marks #143

Nuno Kichi

 

Morita-ya Hanzō

Kakumoto-ya Kinjirō

Marks #199

 

Wata-ya Kihei

 

Yamashiro-ya Jinbei

Koshimura-ya Heisuke

Marks #274

Ise-ya Tokichi

Marks #158

 

 

 

Sumiyoshi-ya Masagorō

Marks #498

Wakasa-ya Yoichi

Yamada-ya Shōjirō

 

Shimizu-ya Tsunejirō

Marks #469

Ise-ya Rihei

Marks #152

Ezaki-ya Tatsuzō

Marks #059

 

Izu-San

Tsuji-ya Yasubei

Marks #550

Uemura Yohei

Marks #564

 

Toshin

Maru-ya Tokuzō

Jōshū-ya Jūzō

Marks #191

 

Maru-ya Jimpachi

Okaei

Marks #U250

Hayashi-ya Shōgorō

Marks #106

     

Ezaki-ya Kichibei

Marks #058

Minato-ya Kohei

Shio-ya Chōbei

Marks #475

 

 

 

Wakau

Izumi-ya Ichibei

Marks #180

Ōtaya Takichi

Marks #423

 

 

 

 

Ōmi-ya Gonkurō

Marks #412

Yamahei

Sawa-ya Kōkichi

Marks #460

 

 

Sano-ya Tomigorō

Marks #448

Tsuta-ya Kichizō

Enshū-ya Hikobei

Marks #055

 

 

 

Fujioka-ya Keijirō

Marks #063

Yamaichi

Ise-ya Shōnosuke

Marks #155

 

 

 

Mikawa-ya

Iba-ya Kyūbei

Marks #126

Jōshū-ya Kinzō

Marks #192

     

Tenki

Yamaichi

Kojima-ya Kūbei

Marks #264

 

 

 

Sakana-ya Eikichi

Marks #442

Koshimura-ya Heisuke

Marks #274

Daikoku-ya Kinnosuke

Marks #033

     

Kyōji

Marks #U174

Fujioka-ya Hikotarō

Marks #062

Sōshiya

Marks #U300

 

 

 

Shimizu-ya Tsunejirō

Enshū-ya Matabei

Marks #057

Daikoku-ya Kichinosuke

Marks #031

Marks #469

 

 

Kawachi-ya Genshichi

Marks #227

Tamura Tetsujirō

Kinkadō (Konishi)

Marks #242

 

 

 

 

Hirano-ya Shinzō

Marks #114

Miyakozawa

Daikoku-ya Kinnosuke

Marks #033

 

 

 

Horikoshi

Marks #U077

Daitora

Marks #U036

Ise-ya Sōemon

Marks #156

 

 

 

 

 

Owariya Seishichi

Fujiya Masashichi

Marks #065

Mikawa-ya Rihei

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tsuji-ya Yasubei

Marks #550

 

 

 

 

 

5. WITHIN A FAN SHAPE

 

 

 

Senri

Hayashi-ya Shōgorō

Marks #106

Iba-ya Kyūbei

Marks #126

 

 

 

 

Iba-ya Senzaburō

Marks #127

Kama-ya Kihei

Marks #201

 

 

 

 

6. WITHIN AN ANGLE

 

 

 

 

Kichi

Azuma-ya Daisuke

Marks #025

Azuma-ya Daisuke

Marks #025

 

 

 

 

 

Tsuru-ya Kinsuke

Kame-ya Iwakichi

Marks #203

 

 

7. WITHIN A LOZENGE OR DIAMOND

Ebi-ya Rinnosuke

Marks #040

Wakasa-ya Yoichi

 

Idzutsuya Denbee

Marks #186

Ya

 

 

 

 

 

 

Takadaya Takezō

 

 

 

 

8. WITHIN A TRIANGLE

No examples yet.

 

9. UNDER A SINGLE 'MOUNTAIN'

Fujioka-ya Hikotarō

Marks #062

Ise-ya Rihei

Marks #152

Itō-ya Yohei

Marks #168

 

 

 

Mikawa-ya Denbei

Shimizu-ya Naōjirō

Yahata-ya Sakujirō

 

 

 

Hori Takichi

Marks #423

Nishimura-ya Yohachi

Marks #391

Nishimura-ya Yohachi

Marks #391

 

 

 

 

Ōtaya Takichi

This attribution is now in

question and may be changed soon.

Ōmi-ya Heihachi

Mori-ya Jihei

 

Enshū-ya Matabei

Marks #057

Tsujioka-ya Bunsuke

Izutsu-ya Shōkichi

Marks #188

 

Kiyomizu-ya

Jōshū-ya Jūzō

Marks #191

Tsuru-ya Kiemon

 

 

 

Enomoto-ya Kichibei

Marks #054

Maru-ya Kiyūshirō

Yahata-ya Sakujirō

 

 

 

 

Harima-ya Shinshichi

Marks #097

Takahashi-ya Takakichi

Fushima-ya Zenroku

Marks #080

 

 

 

Yamada-ya Shōbei

 

Chichibu-ya Shōzaemon

Marks #027

Uemura Yohei

 

 

 

 

Yamashiro-ya Tōemon

Marks #605

Yamashiro-ya Sahei

Marks #603
 

 

 

 

 

 

10. UNDER A DOUBLE 'MOUNTAIN'

Jōshū-ya Kinzō

Marks #192

Hirano-ya Chōemon

Marks #112

Yamato-ya
Kyūbei
(Originally misidentified as Jōshū-ya Kinzō. My mistake. Sorry!)

 

Suruga-ya Hanbei

Marks #499

Yamaichi

Yahata-ya Sakujirō

 

 

 

 

Daikoku-ya

Marks #U032

Suruga-ya Hanbei

Marks #499

Yamatoya Jūbei

 

11. UNDER A TRIPLE 'MOUNTAIN'

Tsuta-ya Kichizō

Tsuta-ya Jūzaburō

Matsumura Tatsuemon

 

 

 

 

 

 

12. UNDER CROSSED 'HOCKEY STICKS'

Eikyudo

(aka Yamamoto-ya Heikichi and Yamamoto Kyūbei)

Ariwaradō Chūbei

Marks #015

Morita-ya Hanjirō

Marks #352

 

 

 

Suzuki Ihei

Marks #502

Yama-Mura

Yamaguchi-ya Chūsuke

 

 

 

 

 

 

13. IN A VASE, GOURD OR BAG

Hirooka-ya Kōsuke

Marks #117

Wata-ya Kihei

Marks #579

Wata-ya Kihei

Marks #579

 

 

 

Wata-ya Kihei

Marks #579

Maru-ya Tetsujirō

Marks #300

Wata-ya Kihei

Marks #579

 

 

 

Fushima-ya Zenroku

Marks #080

Wata-ya Kihei

Marks #579

Wata-ya Kihei

Marks #579

 

14. SINGLE UNENCLOSED CHARACTERS OR SIGNS

Yamaguchi-ya Tōbei

Marks #591

Imari-ya Ushizō

Marks #138

 

 

 

Matsumura Yahei

Marks #312

 

 

15. MISCELLANEOUS

Hasegawa Sonokichi

Marks #101

Shimizu-ya Tsunejirō

Marks #469

Fukuda Kumajirō

Marks #071

 

Fukuda Kumajirō

Marks #071

Fukuda Kumajirō

Marks #071

Fukuda Kumajirō

Marks #071

 

 

 

 

Yamashiro-ya Jinbei

Marks #601

Ōmiya Kyūjirō

Marks #415

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"-dō"

 

Frank A. Turk in an addendum entitled "Lists of Engravers, Prints, Calligraphers and Publishers engaged in the Production of Japanese Prints and Printed Books with Illustrations" in his The Prints of Japan (Arco Publications, 1966, p. 69ff) notes "Wholesale publishers were organized into a guild, the Jihondoiya no Nakama. Each member of this carried on business under three names, the dō-gō, the ya-gō and his personal name." Later he adds "The ya-gō or name of the firm might be used by different men for several generations but the dō-gō was nearly always restricted  to one person." Furthermore, "Finally, each publisher had his own trademark or shop sign (iye no shirushi) and this is often stamped on the artist's original design, with or without one or more of the publisher's names."

 

B. W. Robinson in his Kuniyoshi published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office in 1961 (p. 56) "Japanese publishers are known either by the family and personal names of the proprietor, as Ibaya Sensaburō, or by the name of the firm, as Dansendō; the latter always ends in -do. In their marks, the family and personal names are often combined in an abbreviated form, as Iba-Sen."

 

However, during the Meiji period seals changed considerably. Publishers were now required to list their name, address and date of publication. All of this information was to be provided in the right or left border of the sheet outside of the image.

 

"D'OH"

 

This is the most frequent exclamation made by Homer Simpson. Generally he blurts it out after a stupid or grievous mistake of some kind. Since the Japanese suffix -dō has a radically different meaning I have chosen to insert it here for any and all persons who might think that this list of publishers is anywhere near complete. Far from it. There were hundreds of publishers.  This page is not meant to be a comprehensive guide. It only offers information about prints which we have handled. Also, the boxes listing the artists names is intended to give you a better idea of the scope of individual publishing houses. It does not mean we have prints for sale by these artists. As for the dates -now there is a tricky question - there is very little to no specific information telling us when publishers opened their doors or finally closed them. Robinson, cited above, commented that "Some firms seem to have been large and well established... others, again, occur only once or twice [on Kuniyoshi prints], suggesting that numerous 'mushroom' firms were continually springing up and going out of business after a very short time." It is not only those 'mushrooms' which are so difficult to date, but the whole darned industry. A thorough research project presents itself here for anyone with the time, interest or knowledge to pursue it. I have none of these, but will do the best I can for you until better comes along.

 

"-ya"

 

"-ya" is the Japanese suffix for 'shop' or "...the person who does business in the place to which it is affixed."

 

PUBLISHERS

 

 

To go to our other publishers pages click on the stamps below

A thru G

H thru Imariya Ushizō

Ise Mago thru J

K thru Manzen

Maruya thru Murataya

N thru S

T thru Uoya

 

 

Wakasaya to Z

 

 

AS IF THIS PAGE WEREN'T LONG ENOUGH...

 

WE HAVE NOW ADDED LINKS TO OUR THREE PAGES OF EXAMPLES OF PUBLISHER SEALS WE

HAVE NOT OFFERED YET, BUT WHICH WERE SENT TO US BY OUR GENEROUS CONTRIBUTORS

AND A PAGE DEVOTED TO KUNIYOSHI AND SOME OF HIS PUBLISHERS.

 

CLICK ON THE IMAGES BELOW TO GO TO THOSE PAGES.

 

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