Yoshitoshi Tsukioka, Demon of Mount Togakushi, New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts

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Original Japanese woodblock print.

Artist: Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (1839-1892)
Title: Taira no Koremochi Vanquishing the Demon of Mount Togakushi
Series: New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts
Publisher: Sasaki Toyokichi
Date: 1890
Condition: Light soiling and stains on the margins. Oxidized and slightly smudged red pigment. Restored top corners and backed bottom edge.
Size: 35.7 x 24.5 cm


Yoshitoshi's last woodblock series, 'New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts', draws on an array of supernatural tales from both China and Japan. The images depict the weird, wonderful, and sinister ghost stories that were widely told among the Japanese population. The eeriness of the series is playfully rendered by the mock-worm eaten border around each print. Interestingly, Yoshitoshi's Thirty-Six Ghosts was produced at a time when the recently established Meiji government actively discouraged anything that contradicted Western science and rationality, leading some critics to regard this series as a criticism of the government's new ideology. These works show that Yoshitoshi still found great inspiration from the rural folk tales that were prevalent throughout Japan's history.


This print shows Taira no Koremochi at the moment when he realises that the beautiful woman who charmed him during a hunting trip is actually a demon. Koremochi, a little heavy-lidded perhaps but not asleep, has just noticed her reflection in a bowl of water, or possibly an oversized sake cup. A bestial horned face stares back at him and Koremochi reaches for his sword. This scene shows Yoshitoshi's artistic maturity, as the artist has chosen to depict the quiet moment just before a furious burst of action.


More Information
Artist Name Yoshitoshi Tsukioka
Title Taira no Koremochi Vanquishing the Demon of Mount Togakushi
Subject Beauty & Female, Male & Female, Spirits & Religion
Dimensions 35.7 x 24.5 cm
Series New Forms of Thirty-six Ghosts
Publisher Sasaki Toyokichi