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Archive: Enjaku (猿雀) and Kunikazu (國員)

(R) [Arashi Sankô I] as Komakine Hachirô Umehide; and (L) [Ichikawa Yonezô III] as Kurishima Kainosuke in Keisei nanakusa-goma, Tenma no Shibai, Osaka; Subtitle: Yoshida
Enjaku (main design); kono [painted by] Kunikazu (inset)
No artist or seals
Ishiwa (Ishikawaya Wasuke) trimmed off at lower left margin
(H x W)
Deluxe chûban nishiki-e
24.5 x 18.0 cm
Excellent (deluxe with metallics and burnishing
Excellent color and very good overall condition (unbacked; small repaired wormhole upper right corner margin, trimmed to border on three sides, very light smudges on faces and a faint incised line on Sankô's face)
Price (USD/¥):
Inquiry: EJK02 

The plot of the play Keisei nanakusa-goma (Courtesan: A colt and seven herbs: けいせい七草 (ご ま)) is unknown to us.

Enjaku's (猿雀 active 1856-66) prints survive in very small numbers and are difficult to obtain. Although nothing is known about his biography, he is arguably the most important transitional artist entering the last phase of printmaking in Osaka. He specialized in deluxe editions of ôkubi-e (large-head pictures: 大首絵) in chûban format; a high percentage of these survive in very small numbers. For two series of prints, he also collaborated with the artist Kunikazu, whose style occasionally matched Enjaku's. The first was titled Gojûsan tsuji (Fifty-three stations) featuring double ôkubi-e of actors shown below insets depicting landscape scenes. So far, the present design is the only one by Enjaku known from this series. The theme of fifty-three stations of the Tôkaidô (Tôkaidô gojûsan tsugi no uchi, Fifty-three Stations of the Eastern Sea Road: 東海道五十三次之内) was well known through the many landscapes prints on that subject by Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858).

For more about this artist, see Enjaku Biography.


Yoshida was the thirty-fifth station along the Tôkaidô (Eastern sea route: 東海道). At the upper left, there is a scene of a boatman passing by the struts of the Toyo Bridge with Yoshida Castle along the far shore of the Toyo River. This impression is from a deluxe edition published by Ishiwa with extensive gold-color brass and copper pigments. It includes shômen-zuri ("front rubbing," i.e., burnishing: 正面摺; also called tsuya-zuri or "shiny printing"), a wide range of rich colors, and visible wood grain from the block used to print the background just behind the actors. A later standard edition (without metallics) is also known.

References: EOM, no. E2.04