JAPANESE PRINTS

A MILLION QUESTIONS

TWO MILLION MYSTERIES

 

Ukiyo-e Prints

浮世絵版画

Port Townsend, Washington

 

 

KATSUKAWA SHUNTEI

勝川春亭

かつかわしゅんてい

1770-1820

明和7年~文政3年

Title (of the full triptych):

Yakusha mitate kataki-uchi

"Actors' Tableau of Slaying in Revenge"

 役者見立敵討

 やくしゃみたてかたきうち

Publisher: Izumiya Ichibei

和泉屋市兵佳撰

いずみや.いちべ え

Date: 1808

Bunka 5

文化5

Date Seal: Dragon 4

This is the left hand panel of a triptych.

Condition: Considerably faded, some soiling.

$320.00

 

 

 

"Laurence Binyon in the 1916 catalogue of the Japanese prints in the British Museum lists a triptych entitled Yakusha mitate kataki-uchi, 'Actors' tableau of slaying in revenge'. "

 

"He describes the L-hand sheet as follows: 'At the l. a fat man sits on a rock, sword in hand, and behind him is a youth thrusting back a woman with his hand. The scene is the seashore on the coast of Kamakura, opposite the little green island of Enoshima with Fuji rising beyond the bay.'"

 

 "He gives the colours as pink and red, pale blue and purple in the dresses..."

The information provided above was transmitted to my by E. saving me a lot of effort which can now be spent on other areas of this site. Thanks E!

 

 

The full triptych is shown below, but the middle and right panels are not being offered for sale. The reason: We don't have them.

 

 

 

ENOSHIMA

(江ノ島 or えのしま)

WAS NOT JUST ANOTHER

PRETTY PLACE TO VISIT

Detail of a Hiroshige print of Enoshima from the early 1830s.

 

Detail of a Kuniyoshi print of Enoshima.

 

Detail of a Hokusai print of Enoshima.

 

Detail of a Hiroshige print of Enoshima.

 

 

 

FACE OFF AT ENOSHIMA

 

 

Many Japanese prints portray a real life geographic location. Places of mystery and/or places of beauty. Places once known for pilgrimages like Enoshima are still popular today for family outings and sightseeing. One can still retrace the stages of Hiroshige's Tokaido series even if it would take an expert or global satellite positioning to be absolutely sure that one is standing on exactly the same ground. Battlefields never go away even when they have been paved over.

 

Some sites/sights are so popular that people never quit coming. In fact, their numbers just seem to grow and grow with an almost exponential vigor. Generation after generation visit the Eiffel Tower, the Grand Canyon, Giza and Enoshima. et al. Each generation laments the changes which have taken place since their last visit and yearns for the good old days, but one can't stop progress.

 

The little boys facing each other in the picture shown above, each with a piece of fruit in his hand, are standing on a causeway that didn't exist a hundred years ago. It didn't exist at the time of Shuntei or early kabuki actors making their way to the island to pray at the special shrines devoted to the goddess of the arts. Sure, it makes access to the island a lot easier, but aqt what cost? Imagine building a bridge to Mt. St. Michel so that people no longer had to time their visits according to the tidal charts. That would be unthinkable. The very nature of what makes Mt. St. Michel so wonderful would be lost. Perhaps something of the wonder and awe of Enoshima was lost when this walkway was built.

 

It must have been at least a year ago, maybe a year and a half, that I first ran across this photo of the two young boys watching each other so intently. Today is October 13, 2005. I was doing research on all topics related to Enoshima when I ran across this image and needless to say I was charmed - as I think you should be. However, at the time it never occurred to me to track down the photographer who took the shot. It just seemed too personal. But I did save a copy and did bookmark the site so I could look at it again occasionally. Then recently I decided to ask for permission to use it because I figured the rest of you should see it too.

 

Barring what W. C. Fields said and felt about children most people love a good picture of toddlers. The one shown above reminded me of my younger days when there was nothing better than playing cowboys and Indians. I didn't care which side I was on because it was the fantasy which was paramount. That's probably why this picture won me over so completely. It was like looking at a miniature version of the showdown at Okay Corral. Life imitates art.

 

I located the photographer and asked permission to use the image. He checked with the mother of one of the little boys and after a couple of days of correspondence both agreed to let me use it. I really want to thank them both for this.

 

 

PURPOSE?

 

Recently I remembered a conversation I had with a friend of mine who had visited the British Museum and was shown their version of Shuntei's entire triptych. He was told at that time that this was not an illustration of a particular kabuki performance, but rather was a kind of wish fulfillment on the part of the artist...or perhaps the publisher...or even the person or group that commissioned it. The idea: What if you could gather the most important actors of the day on one stage to play opposite one another  in such a production? Even archrivals. Wouldn't that be sweet.

Of course, I don't know if this is true, but the source of this information is extremely knowledgeable and may well be correct. If you happen to know otherwise then please contact me so I can emend this page.

 

ENOSHIMA

AND HER SISTER CITY

MIAMI BEACH

 

(Actually Fujisawa is the sister city of Miami Beach, but Enoshima is part of it.)

 

 

 

 

Months ago I wrote: "Today is January 13, 2005 and this section is still being developed. Please return soon if you want to see where I am going with this. It may be a few days before I get back to it, but I will get back to it. I promise!" Well, now it is July 9th and I have finally returned. Told you so!

 

The Miami Beach concept was not always present at Enoshima. It wasn't always fun in the sun and a day in the surf. In fact, just the opposite was true. According to tradition this region was once plagued by a child-eating dragon. The situation seemed hopeless until the dragon fell in love with the goddess of the island. (Not sure, but this may have been Benten, one of the Seven Propitious Gods, and the only female among them.) She either convinced the dragon of the error of his ways through persuasion or she married him. The legends are unclear on this fact. But in any case the safety of the children was assured. Today it is reported that there are loads of triangulated mementoes everywhere which are meant to be reminiscent of the dragon's scales. Just a reminder.

 

KING HARALD V

AND THE EMPEROR'S WAKA

 

During 1964 Tokyo Olympics, while just a crown prince, the present King of Norway took part in the yachting competition held at Enoshima. He came in eighth. When visiting Japan in 2001 as guests of the Emperor and Empress King Harald and Queen Sonja were taken to the Enoshima Yacht House in Fujisawa. This was the king's sixth trip to Japan and at least his second stop at Enoshima. In honor of the occasion Emperor Akihito wrote a waka later released for New Year's 2002 by the Imperial Household to commemorate that particular moment. Apparently young people had put on a demonstration of their sailing skills for the king and that formed the crux of the poem.

 

While researching this information I ran across a site which used the word "disambiguation". I had to look it up. I wasn't even sure it was a word, but it is. I suppose if I had to use it in a sentence I would have to say that "One would feel the need to disambiguate after reading various pages posted on this site." Of course, this has nothing to do with the king and his yachting skills, waka or Enoshima, but I thought I would throw it in here just the same.

 

 

Miami Beach was incorporated in 1915. That was only fourteen hundred years after the Emperor Kinmei established the first major shrine on Enoshima --- or so it is said.

 

 

I want to thank Simon Tooke who took that wonderful photograph seen above. I wrote and asked him if I could use it and he very graciously agreed to my request. Of course, if you have ever visited either Miami Beach or Enoshima you might find this image a bit disconcerting. I do. It doesn't look a thing like Miami Beach as I remember it, but it has been years since I have been there.

 

 

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