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

 

"In the book 'Gathering of Views of Famous Sights along the Tōkaidō' (Tōkaidō meisho zue) from 1797

is an illustration of Izumiya's shop, located directly next to fellow publisher Masuya."

 

This information was provided by Dr. Andreas Marks in his Japanese Woodblock Prints: Artists, Publishers and Masterworks 1680-1900, p. 208.

 

 

 

 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

 Fukuda Kumajirō

Hōeidō

 

Murata-ya Jirōbei

Masugindō

Kobayashi-ya Taijirō

 

Iba-ya Kyūbei

Iwato-ya Kisaburō

Ise Mago

 

 Maru-ya Jimpachi

Maru-ya Bun'emon

Ōtaya Takichi

     

Maru-ya Seijirō

Iba-ya Senzaburō

Ōyama Toyojirō

 

2. WITHIN A HEXAGON OR OCTAGON

Daikoku-ya Kinnosuke

 

3. WITHIN A SQUARE

 

 

Koga-ya Katsugorō

Sano-ya Kihei

Shimizu

(Andreas Marks identifies this

publisher as Mikawa-ya Seiemon)

 

 

 

Sa

Nishimura Yohachi

Sawa-ya Kōkichi

 

Eijudō

Ebisu-ya Shōshichi

Arita-ya Seiemon

 

Sumimaru-ya Jinsuke

Murata-ya Jirōbei

Sano-ya Tomigorō

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sakai-ya Kurobei

 

 

4. WITHIN A RECTANGLE

Aito

Arita-ya Seiemon

Arita-ya Seiemon

 

 

 

Daikoku-ya Heikichi

Daikoku-ya Kinnosuke

Daikoku-ya Kinnosuke

 

 

 

Mikawa-ya Tetsugorō

Gusoku-ya Kahei

Honsei

 

 

 

Ebisu-ya Shōshichi

Ebisu-ya Shōshichi

Ebi-ya Rinnosuke

 

 

 

Ebi-ya Rinnosuke

Etsu-Ka

Fujioka-ya Keijirō

 

 

 

Ise-ya Kanekichi

Ise Yoshi

Izumi-ya Ichibei

 

 

 

Izumi-ya Ichibei

Izumi-ya Ichibei

Kaga-ya Kichiemon

 

 

 

Kaga-ya Yasubei

Kawaguchi-ya Uhei

Ki-ya Sōjirō

 

 

 

Maru-ya Heijirō

Minato-ya Kohei

Sano-ya Kihei

 

 

 

Takemura Hideo

Tsujioka-ya Bunsuke

Tsujioka-ya Bunsuke

 

 

 

Tsunashima Kamekichi

Tsunoi

Uo-ya Eikichi

 

 

 

Uo-ya Eikichi

Yamaguchi-ya Tōbei

Yorozu-ya Magobei

 

 

 

Tama-ya Sosuke

Hirano-ya Shinzō

Izutsu-ya Shōkichi

 

Ise-ya Kanekichisaburo

Ise-ya Sanjirō

Kazusa-ya Iwakichi

 

Maru-ya Kiyūshirō

Murata-ya Tetsu

Tsuru-ya Kiemon

 

Manzen

Kawaguchi-ya
Chōzō

Tenki

 

Azuma-ya Daisuke

Edo-ya Matsugoro  

Jōshū-ya Kinzō

 

Maru-ya Seijirō

Kinkadō (Konishi)

Kagi-ya Shōjirō

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

Wata-ya Kihei

Oden

 

Iba-ya Senzaburō

Ōta-ya Takichi

Kawaguchi-ya Shōzō

 

Ōta-ya Takichi

Ito-ya Shōbei

Nishi Shin

Now renamed Nishinomi-ya Shinroku.

 

Kawaoto

Nishimura Yohachi

 Funazu Chūjirō

 

Sano-ya Kihei

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

 

Jōshū-ya Kinzō

Ise-ya Ichibei

Nuno Kichi

 

Morita-ya Hanzō

Kakumoto-ya Kinjirō

 

Wata-ya Kihei

 

Yamashiro-ya Jinbei

Koshimura-ya Heisuke

Ise-ya Tokichi

 

 

 

Sumiyoshi-ya Masagorō

Wakasa-ya Yoichi

Yamada-ya Shōjirō

 

Shimizu-ya Tsunejirō

Ise-ya Rihei

Ezaki-ya Tatsuzō

 

Izu-San

Tsuji-ya Yasubei

Uemura Yohei

 

Toshin

Maru-ya Tokuzō

Jōshū-ya Jūzō

 

Maru-ya Jimpachi

Okaei

Hayashi-ya Shōgorō

     

Ezaki-ya Kichibei

Minato-ya Kohei

Shio-ya Chōbei

 

 

 

Wakau

Izumi-ya Ichibei

Ōtaya Takichi

 

 

 

 

Ōmi-ya Gonkurō

Yamahei

Sawa-ya Kōkichi

 

 

 

 

Sano-ya Tomigorō

Tsuta-ya Kichizō

Enshū-ya Hikobei

 

 

 

Fujioka-ya Keijirō

Yamaichi

Ise-ya Shōnosuke

 

 

 

Mikawa-ya

Iba-ya Kyūbei

Jōshū-ya Kinzō

     

Tenki

Yamaichi

Kojima-ya Kūbei

 

 

 

Sakana-ya Eikichi

Koshimura-ya Heisuke

Daikoku-ya Kinnosuke

     

Kyōji

Fujioka-ya Hikotarō

Sōshiya

 

 

 

Shimizu-ya Tsunejirō

Enshū-ya Matabei

Daikoku-ya Kichinosuke

 

 

 

Kawachi-ya Genshichi

Tamura Tetsujirō

Kinkadō (Konishi)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miyakozawa

 

 

 

 

 

5. WITHIN A FAN SHAPE

 

 

 

Senri

Hayashi-ya Shōgorō

Iba-ya Kyūbei

 

 

 

 

Iba-ya Senzaburō

Kama-ya Kihei

 

 

 

 

6. WITHIN AN ANGLE

 

 

 

 

Kichi

Azuma-ya Daisuke

Azuma-ya Daisuke

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kame-ya Iwakichi

 

 

7. WITHIN A LOZENGE OR DIAMOND

Ebi-ya Rinnosuke

Wakasa-ya Yoichi

 

Idzutsuya Denbee

Ya

 

 

 

 

 

 

Takadaya Takezō

 

 

 

 

8. WITHIN A TRIANGLE

No examples yet.

 

9. UNDER A SINGLE 'MOUNTAIN'

Fujioka-ya Hikotarō

Ise-ya Rihei

Itō-ya Yohei

 

 

 

Mikawa-ya Denbei

Shimizu-ya Naōjirō

Yahata-ya Sakujirō

 

 

 

Hori Takichi

Nishimura-ya Yohachi

Nishimura-ya Yohachi

 

 

 

Ōtaya Takichi

This attribution is now in

question and may be changed soon.

Ōmi-ya Heihachi

Mori-ya Jihei

 

Enshū-ya Matabei

Tsujioka-ya Bunsuke

Izutsu-ya Shōkichi

 

Kiyomizu-ya

Jōshū-ya Jūzō

Tsuru-ya Kiemon

 

 

 

Enomotoya Kichibei

Maru-ya Kiyūshirō

Yahata-ya Sakujirō

 

 

 

 

Harima-ya Shinshichi

Takahashi-ya Takakichi

Fushima-ya Zenroku

 

 

 

 

Yamada-ya Shōbei

 

Chichibu-ya Shōzaemon

 

 

10. UNDER A DOUBLE 'MOUNTAIN'

Jōshū-ya Kinzō

Hirano-ya Chōemon

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

 

 

Suruga-ya Hanbei

Yamaichi

 

 

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

Morita-ya Hanjirō

 

 

 

Suzuki Ihei

Yama-Mura

Yamaguchi-ya Chūsuke

 

 

 

 

 

 

13. IN A VASE, GOURD OR BAG

Hiro-ya Kosuke

Wata-ya Kihei

Wata-ya Kihei

 

 

 

Wata-ya Kihei

Maru-ya Tetsujirō

Wata-ya Kihei

 

 

 

Fushima-ya Zenroku

Wata-ya Kihei

Wata-ya Kihei

 

14. SINGLE UNENCLOSED CHARACTERS OR SIGNS

Yamaguchi-ya Tōbei

Imari-ya Ushizō

 

15. MISCELLANEOUS

Hasegawa Sonokichi

Shimizu-ya Tsunejirō

Fukuda Kumajirō

 

Fukuda Kumajirō

Fukuda Kumajirō

Fukuda Kumajirō

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ōmiya Kyūjirō

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"-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."

 

I want to thank two contributors to this web site for help and suggestions for this page. One is E and because of him I will be adding a section of publisher seals arranged according to their design motifs. The other is AK who has been very helpful in finding stupid errors I have made. He is not responsible for the thoughts expressed, but has been invaluable in finding mistakes in kanji, kana and English.

Thanks to them both!

I am grateful!

 

 

PUBLISHERS

 

 

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

A thru G

H thru J

K thru M

N thru S

 

T 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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