Art Meets Taboo in the Tradition of Japanese Tattoos
signed Yoshitoshi, artist's seal Taiso, engraver Yamamoto, published by Akiyama Buemon, ca. 1889
oban tate-e 14 5/8 by 10 in., 37.3 by 25.5 cm
This composition depicts Ochiyo, a servant in the household of Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598). She stands on Gojobashi bridge in Kyoto, the site of Yoshitsune and Benkei's famous battle. As opposed to that of a battle scene, however, this print is lent a reflective and melancholic tone from its lovelorn subject. Ochiyo, recently learning of her lover's death, is depicted after walking through the capital. Though her face is expressionless, her long, wild hair and bare feet reveal her growing insanity. The scroll of letters escaping her grasp are her correspondences with the deceased. They are tattered and worn from having been read and reread many times, and words such as think, heart, and first snow can be made out from the long scroll. She will soon pass away herself, dying of grief.
During the hot and humid weather of the seventh month of the year, also known as the fumihirogezuki (lit. 'letter-spreading month'), letters and scrolls were unrolled and aired out.
Publisher: Akiyama Buemon
John Stevenson, Yoshitoshi's One Hundred Aspects of the Moon, 2001. cat. no. 77
Ota Kinen Bijyutsukan, Yoshitoshi - Fuuzoku Sanjyuni Sou To Tsuki Hyaku Sugata, 2009. p. 38
Japanese, 1839-1892, Edo, Japan, based in Japan