JAPANESE PRINTS

A MILLION QUESTIONS

TWO MILLION MYSTERIES

 

Ukiyo-e Prints

浮世絵版画

Port Townsend, Washington

 

 

TSUKIOKA YOSHITOSHI

1839-1892

月岡芳年

つきおかよしとし

Series: Biographies of Modern People

Kinsei Jinbutsu Shi

近世人物誌

きんせいじんぶつし

Subject: The Geisha Kokatsu

Print Size: 14 1/8" x 9 1/2"

Date:

1887, 5th Month, 24th Day

 Meiji 20

明治20

Publisher: Yamato

やまと

There is another copy of this print in the collection of Waseda University

and in the Tokyo Metropolitan Library.

SOLD!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Kinsei Jinbutsu Shi

近世人物誌

きんせい.じんぶつ.し

 

       

 

 

 

Meiji 20, 5th Month, 24th Day

(Read right to left at the top of the print.)

 

 

LUDDITES

AND

WOUNDED KNEE

Several years ago I took a two month camping trip. On the way home I stopped at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Not only was the site powerful for its setting, but also for its poignancy. A large  bronze plaque described the massacre which included a group of young men who believed that their magic made them invisible to the enemy and impervious to their bullets. Needless to say, many if not all of them died as a result of their self-deception. They had no real grasp of the nature of the forces that opposed them.

 

In 1811 and 1812 a group of men in England, who came to be known as Luddites, destroyed a lot of machinery which they felt endangered their livelihoods and hence they ways of life. These men became the primary symbols in the West of reactionism. I still have friends who don't own a television or a computer and who obviously can't send e-mail. They are definitely resistant  to trends in technology even though they fly all over the world, ride in cars and take elevators to their luxury suites on the 23rd floor. I guess each of us gets to pick and choose.

 

************

 

The print on this page is a portrait of the geisha Kokatsu who was the mistress of one of the Meiji commanders of a garrison at Kumamoto (熊本 or くまもと). The year was 1876, almost 9 years since the beginning of the Meiji Restoration, and discontent among the old order, i.e., the samurai class, was festering. On the night of October 24th rebels known as the Shinpūren divided into two main groups and made a coordinated sneak attack. One part surprised the garrison and slaughtered many of the soldiers showing no mercy for those who were wounded or captured. The other group attacked the telegraph office and destroyed the machinery which was so symbolic of all the things they hated. "Still others attacked the residences of the prefectural governor Yasuoka Ryōsuke, the garrison commandant Major Taneda Masaaki, and the chief of staff Lieutenant Colonel Takashima Shigenori. They killed Taneda and Takashima, mortally wounded Yasuoka, and burned down his house."* After telegraph communications were reestablished Taneda's mistress, the geisha Kokatsu, telegraphed the news to her parents.

 

The emasculated samurai class resented everything Western and everything modern. As a result the attackers  demurred the use of modern weaponry preferring their traditional swords. This was fine in the opening assault, but in the end served them no better than the delusional Sioux warriors at Wounded Knee. Also, by destroying the telegraph equipment the Shinpūren cut off their best source for quick communications which  could summon support for reinforcements. The similarities to attitudes both Eastern and Western are striking.

*This quote is from Emperor of Japan: Meiji and His World, 1852-1912 by Donald Keene (pages 264-66). For students of Japanese history or culture I can't recommend this book enough. It should be a well-used addition to your personal library.

 

 

 

 

This text indicates that this

is a newspaper supplement:

 

 

 

 

 yamato shinbun furoku

やまと新聞付録

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This text reads:

 

 

某(なにがし) 少将(せうせう)の妾(せふ)
少将(せうせう)の妾(せふ) 某(なにがし)ハ以前(いぜん)日本橋(にほんばし)の芸妓(げいぎ)にて
名(な)を小勝(こかつ)と称(しよう)せり其(その)心(こころ)ばへ尋常(よのつね)の芸妓(げいぎ)
ならざるを以(も)て少将(せうせう)愛(あい)して妓籍(ぎせき)を脱(だつ)させ妾(せふ)
として任地(にんち)熊本(くまもと)の営所(えいしよ)へ伴(ともな)はれたり然(しか)るに
明治九年十月二十四日神風連(しんぷうれん)の暴挙(ばうきよ)の為(ため)に少(せう)
将(しやう)ハ重傷(ぢうちやう)を負(おハ)れ遂(つひ)に逝去(せいきよ)あリ此時(このとき)妾(せふ)ハ
東京(とうけい)の母(はは)の許(もと)ヘ「ダンナハイケナイ、ワタシハテヲヒ」との
電報(でんぱう)を送(おく)りたりと当時(とうじ)の諸新開(しよしんぶん)に載(のせ)たり
其後(そのご)妾(せふ)ハ尚(なを)同所(どうしよ)に止(とど)まりしが或時(あるとき)同県(どうけん)に巡(じゆん)
査(さ)を奉職(ほうしよく)なす何某(なにがし)が此妾(このせふ)を懸想(けそう)し思(おも)ひ
に絶(たえ)かね一日(いちじつ)面会(めんくわい)のうヘ恋情(れんじやう)のやるせなき
を吐露(とろ)せしに之を戒(いまし)め妾(せう)ハ故殿(こどの)の恩偶(おんぐう)を
蒙(かうむ)る一朝(いつてう)の事(こと)にあらず殿(との)逝(せい)せられて土(つち)
いまだ乾(かハ)かざるに御身(おんミ)と怪(け)しかる事(こと)のあらバ
妾(せう)は流石(さすが)に芸妓(げいぎ)の果(はて)なりと人(ひと)に後(うし)ろ指(ゆび)差(ささ)
れん事(こと)の無念(むねん)なり御身(おんミ)も軽重(けいぢやう)の別(べつ)こそ
あれ等(ひと)しく官吏(くわんり)ならずや此場(このば)は是限(これきり)
として人にも言(いハ)ぬ御身(おんミ)も此後(このご)を慎(つつし)み
玉はれよとありしかバ某(なにがし)ハ慙愧(ざんぎ)に絶(たへ)ず
穴(あな) 賢(かしこ)断念(だんねん)すべしとありけれバ妾(せふ)は数(かず)
ならぬ身(ミ)を斬(かく)までに思(おも)ひ玉(たま)はるこころ
ざしこそ嬉(うれ)しけれと肌(はだ)につけたる長(なが)
襦袢(じゆばん)脱(ぬぎ)予(あた)へたり其年(そのとし)某(ばう)ハ西南(せいなん)の
役(えき)に討死(うちじに)せしが肌(はだ)にハ妾(せふ)のあたへ
たるなが襦袢(じゆばん)を着(ちやく)し居(ゐ)たりし
とか

 

 

 

 

 

 

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