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Shirakawa in Rikuzen

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1839-1892

Eight Views of Warriors in the Provinces: Shirakawa in Rikuzen
(Shokoku musha hakkei: Rikuzen Shirakawa)

signed Ikkaisai Yoshitoshi ga, with publisher's seal Man, hanmoto, Nihonbashi, Manson, Tori Ichi (Yorozuya Magobei of Kineido), and combined censor and date seal Hitsuji-ichi, aratame (year of the goat [1871], 1st lunar month, examined)

oban tate-e 14 1/4 by 9 1/2 in., 36.1 by 24.1 cm

This composition depicts a battle in Rikuzen Province. Following the fall of Edo, a young member of the Imperial family, Prince Kitashirakawa Yoshihisa (1847-1895), joined the rebels in what was called the Ouetsu Reppan Domei (Alliance of Northern Domains). They intended to name him Emperor, though it is uncertain if this ever came to pass. Rikuzen, only formally separated from Mutsu Province following the conclusion of the Boshin War, would have been one of the last battle sites before the dissolution of the Ouetsu Reppan Domei and the establishment of the Ezo Republic. Though we are unable to find a record of any battle occurring in Rikuzen, it is likely that this print refers to Yoshihisa and perhaps relates to his departure from the rebel alliance. The prince would later become a professional soldier in the Meiji administration, receive training in Germany, and die of malaria during the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895).

This print was issued without the series title portion of text in the red title cartouche, an unusual (but not unheard of) occurrence in the production process. Given the scarcity of the series in general, and this design in particular, it suggests some sort of unknown obstacle in completing the series of only eight designs.

Reference:
Keyes 1983, pp. 119-123, p. 393, no. 271.4

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