Yoshitoshi Tsukioka, Sugawara no Michizane, One Hundred Aspects of the Moon

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Original Japanese woodblock print. 

Artist: Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (1839-1892)
Title: 16. Michizane Composes a Poem by Moonlight
Series: One Hundred Aspects of the Moon
Publisher: Akiyama Buemon
Date: 1886


The moon glimmers like bright snow
and plum blossoms appear like reflected stars
ah! the golden mirror of the moon passes overhead
as fragrance from the jade chamber fills the garden


Sugawara no Michizane’s literary gift led him to the respected position of minister in emperor Daigo’s court. However, members of the court became jealous of his status and blamed the New Year solar eclipse on him, accusing his ascension in the court as his way to overthrow the emperor. Michizane was exiled to Kyushu and died a pitiable death two years later.


Yoshitoshi shows Michizane as a boy writing a poem. The plum tree behind him symbolises not only the coming of spring, but also Michizane’s fondness for the plum blossom. His emblem displayed a plum flower, and a handful of poems refers to the plum. The legend says that when he was exiled, he was so sad he couldn’t see his precious plum anymore that the tree flew over to him.

More Information
Artist Name Yoshitoshi Tsukioka
Title Michizane Composes a Poem by Moonlight
Subject Samurai & Male
Condition Report Backing. Minor smudges along the edges. Small black spots in the middle of the print and on fan.
Series One Hundred Aspects of the Moon
Publisher Akiyama Buemon