Nobukazu Yosai, Fireworks at Ryogoku, Kimono Design


Artist: Nobukazu Yosai (1872-1944)
Title: Fireworks at Ryogoku
Publisher: Takekawa
Date: c. 1890s
Size: (R) 25.1 x 36 (C) 23 x 35.9 (L) 24.8 x 36 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print.

Summer in Japan is the season for fireworks (hanabi) and many people gather on river shores or in boats to watch the colourful displays in the sky.

The construction of the Ryogoku Bridge in 1659 helped to shape the city of Edo. The name of the bridge translates as 'two countries' and referred to the joining of Musashi and Shimosa Province which were prior separated by the Sumida River. It is often said that Edo was a city of rivers and canals, with travelling by boat a common mode of transport for most classes.

Ryogoku Bridge was also a popular spot for fireworks and entertainment in the summer. Crowds would gather on the river shore or on pleasure boats to relax and cool off in the evening after a hot and humid summer day. In this print, one lady is seen reaching out to the surface of the water with her sake cup while holding the sleeve of her kimono with her teeth, to prevent it from getting wet. Other ladies in the boat are playing music. It is a very relaxed atmosphere, befitting a summer night.

Nobukazu Yosai (1872 - 1944)

Nobukazu Yosai was a woodblock print artist from the end of the 19th century. He worked in a variety of genres from pictures of beautiful women (biiinga) to famous views of modernizing Tokyo (kaika-e), including depictions of domestic industrial exhibitions, depictions of the emperor and empress, and war and rebellion prints (senso-e).

Battle triptychs were produced in large numbers during the Sino-Japanese (1894 - 1895) and Russo-Japanese wars (1904 - 1905) to satisfy widespread interest in the progress of the imperial army and maintain popular support for the conflicts. The prints idealised the heroism of Japanese troops risking their lives for the emperor. As the demand for traditional woodblock prints fell in the Meiji era, many artists turned to wartime propaganda to make ends meet. Nobukazu did a considerable number of outstanding triptychs and made his reputation designing battle scenes on land and sea.

Nobukazu is considered to be the best student of Chikanobu Yoshu (1838-1912), whose style can mainly be seen in his beauty prints. He carried over the tradition from his teacher to depict court ladies in beautiful settings, at celebrations or enjoying everyday life.

More Information
Print FormatTriptych
ArtistNobukazu Yosai (1872 - 1944)
SubjectBeauty & Female, Landscapes, Kimono Design
Size(R) 25.1 x 36 (C) 23 x 35.9 (L) 24.8 x 36 cm