Yoshitoshi Tsukioka, Oiwa, Yotsuya Kaidan, New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts

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Original Japanese woodblock print. 

Artist: Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (1839-1892)
Title: 35. A Ghost Story in Yotsuya
Series: New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts
Publisher: Daikokuya Heikichi
Date: 1892

Dimensions: 36 x 24.5 cm
Condition: Centrefold. Some stains and ink stains. Foxing in the centre-left of print.


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 Ghost’s 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 prints shows the lady Oiwa holding onto her son as a snake-like ribbon descends upon them. The threatening scene is an omen for the later suffering that is to befall her. Oiwa’s husband’s lust for another woman drives him to poison her, so that he can be free to marry his new love interest. The murder begins a series of hauntings by Oiwa’s vengeful ghost. Rather than focus on the often depicted figure of the undead Oiwa, Yoshitoshi shows her in her human form, only hinting at the horror to come through the innocuous form of the ribbon.

More Information
Print Format Oban (Vertical)
Artist Name Yoshitoshi Tsukioka
Title A Ghost Story in Yotsuya
Subject Beauty & Female, Spirits & Religion
Dimensions 36 x 24.5 cm
Series New Forms of Thirty-six Ghosts
Publisher Daikokuya Heikichi