Chikanobu Yoshu, Snow in Tsukuba, Princess, Supernatural


Artist: Chikanobu Yoshu (1838-1912)
Title: Snow in Tsukuba
Series: Snow, Moon and Flower
Publisher: Kobayashi Tetsujiro
Date: 1884
Size: 24.4 x 36.6 cm

Original Japanese woodblock print. 


Princess Takiyasha, the daughter of Tairo no Makasado, traverses through the snow on Mt. Tsukuba. After a failed revolt against the emperor, Makasado was beheaded and his entire family ordered to be assassinated. All were killed except for his son and daughter. Eventually, the children encounter the sage Nikushisen who reveals their lineage and bestows them with a magical scroll detailing his particular brand of occult magic, frog sorcery. With these newly found abilities, Princess Takiyasha vows to avenge her father and rises up against the Emperor with a demonic force of ghosts and demons known as yokai. Despite her supernatural powers, Princess Takiyasha suffers the same fate as her father when her attempt is foiled by Ōya no Tarō Mitsukuni, a warrior also versed in the esoteric.

Chikanobu Yoshu

Chikanobu Yoshu was a woodblock print artist from the end of the 19th century. He was one of the most prolific woodblock print artists of this period, working with both traditional subjects, such as actors, courtesans, scenes of famous sites, beautiful women, and with topical subjects, such as war and rebellion. Born into a samurai family in Echigo province, Chikanobu became one of the final, great, ukiyo-e artists aiming to preserve the traditional culture of Japan at a time when the country was becoming rapidly modernised. As a child, he studied Kano style painting. When he moved to Tokyo he studied print design first at the studio of Kuniyoshi Utagawa (1797-1861) and later on at that of Kunisada I Utagawa (1786–1865).

The end of the Edo period (1603-1868) and the beginning of the Meiji period (1868-1912) brought a rapid influx of Western values and technologies that influenced many artists of this time, including Chikanobu. As a result, he developed a distinctive personal style blending a close adherence to the traditional technique of ukiyo-e, and occasional western imagery. He designed prints rooted in traditional myths and legends but also kaika-e, prints that documented Japan's modernization, the Emperor Meiji and the imperial court's promotion of that modernization.

Even though Chikanobu’s prints showcase a variety of subjects, due to the wealth of his beauties and court ladies works, it is believed that the customs and events of the imperial family were his favourite subject. Out of these prints, the most well-known series is probably ‘The Inner Palace of Chiyoda’ (‘Chiyoda no O-oku’), which depicts the court life in the palace of the Tokugawa shogunate. Influenced by the rapid changes happening in Japanese society following the Meiji restoration, Chikanobu also produced beauty prints showing ladies in Western clothing, as opposed to kimono. Chikanobu's last works in the early years of the 20th century featured brave samurai and heroic women of Japan's past, models of appropriate behaviour for the future.

More Information
Print FormatOban (Vertical)
ArtistChikanobu Yoshu
SubjectBeauty & Female, Ghosts & Religion
Dimensions24.4 x 36.6 cm
Condition ReportMinor pigment and crease on margins. Black ink dot in the centre of the print.