Toyohara Kunichika, Ohyakudo, Mirror of the Flowering Manners and Customs


Artist: Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900)
Title: Ohyakudo ('One Hundred Times')
Series: Mirror of the Flowering Manners and Customs
Publisher: Kobayashi Tetsujiro
Date: 1878
Size: 25.2 x 35.8 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print.

The title of this series, 'Kaika Ninjo Kagami' plays on the meaning of the word 'kaika', which in Meiji period referred to modernity, civilisation or enlightenment. Meiji Restoration started in 1868, an event that marked the start of Japan’s modernisation and end of its closed borders policy. The new era saw Japan opening up to the West and even adopting some of its culture and politics. Kunichika interestingly depicts this dramatically eventful history through women of various background and sentiment.


In this print, a lady who appears to be blind is holding koyori, rolled strings of paper used for making wishes at the shrine. The term 'ohyakudo' refers to the act of visiting certain shrines and temples one hundred times. Often this is done for the purpose of prayer by an individual. She is holding one hundred koyori, also used as a counting system so that the she will not lose track of the number to times the pilgrimage circuit has been performed.

Kunichika Toyohara (1835 - 1900)

One of the last great masters of ukiyo-e, Kunichika was inspired by the plays, actors and customs of kabuki theatre. His colourful prints are records of a long lost, decadent underworld of Edo. As a young man, he studied with the ukiyo-e artist Chikanobu, from whom he received his artist name. He then apprenticed under Kunisada and began to produce actor prints in the Utagawa style, though he never used the Utagawa name. Unlike most artists of the period, he made use of strong reds and dark purples, often as background colours, rather than the softer colours that had previously been used. These new colours were made of aniline dyes imported in the Meiji period from Germany. When portraying people he only occasionally showed figures wearing Western dress, despite its growing popularity in Japan. He is also one of the best known artists to have designed a great number of prints featuring tattoos, a genre made popular earlier in Edo period by Kuniyoshi Utagawa.

More Information
Print FormatOban (Vertical)
ArtistKunichika Toyohara (1835 - 1900)
SubjectBeauty & Female, Kimono Design
Size25.2 x 35.8 cm
Condition ReportCrease mark on the left-hand side. Some red pigment transfer. 
SeriesMirror of Flowering of Manners and Customs::Kunichika Toyohara