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Blessings Inside from the series Eastern Customs: Enumerated Blessings

Illustration of The Imperial Assembly of the House of Peers
 

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Blessings Inside from the series

Eastern Customs: Enumerated Blessings

by Yōshū Chikanobu, 1887 or 1889

Tanzi: He Fed His Parent's Doe's Milk, No. 10 from the series Juxtaposed Pictures of Twenty-four Paragons of Filial Piety


IHL Cat. #2211

About This Print


One of thirty prints in the series Azuma fūzoku, fukuzukushi (Eastern Customs: Enumerated Blessings), issued between 1887 and 1889.1 In this print, children gather up beans thrown by a toshi-otoko (Man of the Year), as further explained below.

During the Setsubun ("Change of Season") festival held at the end of winter by the lunar calendar, mame-maki ("bean throwing") is accompanied by shouts of "Fuku wa uchi, oni wa soto"  ("Good fortune in, demons out!"). The beans are usually thrown out by a toshi-otoko, a man whose zodiac sign matches that of the new year, and in this print he is the shadowy figure beyond the shoji screen. Children are gathering up the scattered beans to use in cooking the first rice pot on risshun ("the first day of spring") hoping this will bring them good health and good luck. Setsubun decorations hang above the door to the sliding door panel, and a plum tree blooms in the garden.2

1 This series has been variously translated as Eastern Customs: Varieties of HappinessCustoms of Tokyo, A Collection of "Fuku" WordsCustoms of the East, A Collection of Fuku WordsAn Array of Auspicious Customs of Eastern JapanCustoms of Edo: Enumerated FortunesCustoms of the Capital Displayed by Homonyms of the Word "Fuku"Collection of Happiness, Daily Life of the EastA Collection of Happiness, Customs in the East among others.
2 Chikanobu: Modernity and Nostalgia in Japanese Prints, Bruce A. Coats, Hotei Publishing, 2006, p. 143.

The Series Eastern Customs: Enumerated Blessings

Source: Chikanobu: Modernity and Nostalgia in Japanese Prints, Bruce A. Coats, Hotei Publishing, 2006, p.46 and my commentary.

"Some of these single sheet designs [in the series Eastern Customs: Enumerated Blessings] are among Chikanobu's finest renderings of Meiji period life, with elegant modern ladies dressed in the latest French fashions and handsome government officials donning their European style uniforms. He also created vignettes of daily life at home in Tokyo, with a baby learning to crawl, children playing games, young girls reading in the afternoon, and two young women enjoying flute music at dusk in an iris garden.

These images have a proud sense of well being, that Japan has successfully transitioned into the modern era but still retained the best aspects of its traditional culture. The Roman alphabet has been used in titles to give a contemporary global outlook to the prints, even though the letters spell Japanese words. These works were published at a time when discussions were taking place in Tokyo about whether Chinese characters (kanji) should be abandoned as too old fashioned and cumbersome, and how English should become more widespread in Japan as a way of making the Japanese more internationally conscious and competitive."

Each print carries one of the many meanings of the word "fuku" (or "huku" as it appears in each print's multi-colored title cartouche, written in a hybrid form of Western fonts.)

Many of the prints in the series, if not the entire series, were issued more than once, as color variants of many of the prints exist and varying dates of publication can be found on several prints. In addition, many of the prints in the series can be found both with dates in the publisher's rectangular cartouche or without dates.

The Thirty Prints in the Series
Note: Most of the below images were taken from the bound album in the collection of the National Diet Library, with other images coming from the bound album in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the prints in the collection of Keio University Library. When multiple dates are shown below, it reflects that different copies of a particular print bear different dates. 

福引 (ふく引)
Lottery, 1889
“HUKU BIKI.”
福わらひ (福わらい)
Lucky Laugh Game, 1889 (Fukuwarai Game)
”HUKU Warai.”

  ふくわうち (福は内)
Inside Happiness, 1887, 1889
“HUKU Wauthi”
福寿草
Pheasant-eye, 1890
“huku Giusoii”
馥郁
Fragrance, 1889
“HUKU IKU”
けんふく
Two Mirrors Looking, 1890
“Ken huku”
双幅
A Set of Hanging Scrolls, 1889
(Two Kakemonos)
"SOU HUKU.”


万民きふく
Allegiance of Everybody, 1889
“BANMIN kihuku”
七福まうで
 Visiting the Shrines of the Seven Lucky Gods, 1889
"7 Huku Maude.”

風ふく
Wind Blowing, 1889
"KAZE huku"
ふくろう
Owls, 1889
“HUKU RO”
紙ふく
Paper Blowing, 1890
“KAMI-HUKU.”
笛ふく
Blowing a Flute, 1889
“huye Huku.” 
ふくりん
Ornamental Border, 1887, 1890 
“HUKU RIN”*
*a type of flower

ふくべ
Gourds, 1890
huku be”
へんふ
Bats, 1887 and 1889
"hen HUKU"
子福者
Blessed with Many Children, 1890
“KOHUKU Sha”

妾ふ
Concubine's Children, 1890
"SHO HUKU"

匍匐 (葡匐)
Crawling, 1889
"HO HUKU"
 有ふく (有福)
Wealthy, 1890
"YUU huku"
ふく写
Photographs, 1890
"HUKU SHA"
 ふく神 (福神)
God of Fortune, 1890
”Huku Gin”


ふくどく
Supplementary Reading, 1887, 1889
“HUKU Doku”

呉服
Kimono fabrics, 1887, 1889
"GO Huku"
ふぶく
 Blizzard, 1889
"HU HUKU"
 洋ふく
Western Clothing, 1889
"YOU Huku "
大 礼ふく(大札ふく) – Ceremonial Attire, 1889
(Official Clothes)
”TAIREI HUKU”

美ふく
Fine Dress, not dated
“BI huku”
 
福ねずみ (福ねづみ)
Lucky Mice, not dated
“HUKU Nezumi"
霧ふく
Spraying Water, 1889
"Kiri huku"
 

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 #2211
 Title or Description Blessings Inside
 子福者 fuku wauchi
 Series Eastern Customs: Enumerated Blessings
 
 東風俗 福づくし Azuma fūzoku, fukuzukushi
  [also seen translated as Eastern Customs: Varieties of Happiness; Customs of Tokyo, A Collection of "Fuku" Words; Customs of the East, A Collection of Fuku Words; An Array of Auspicious Customs of Eastern Japan; Customs of Edo: Enumerated Fortunes; Customs of the Capital Displayed by Homonyms of the Word "Fuku"; Collection of Happiness, Daily Life of the East; A Collection of Happiness, Customs in the East]
 Artist Yōshū Chikanobu (1838-1912)
 Signature
楊洲周延筆 Yōshū Chikanobu hitsu
 Seal Toshidama seal (shown above)
 Publication Date
1887 or 1889
note: printing and publication dates are not filled in on the publisher's cartouche on this collection's print (see below) but other extant prints bear either the date Meiji 20 or 22
 Publisher
武川卯之吉 Takekawa (Takegawa) Unokichi
[Marks: pub. ref. 522; seal not shown]
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - minor soiling; not backed 
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Miscellaneous

 Format ōban
 H x W Paper 
 14 x 9 5/8 in. (35.6 x 24.4 cm) 
 H x W Image
 13 1/8 x 8 15/16 in. (33.3 x 22.7 cm)
 Literature 
 Chikanobu: Modernity and Nostalgia in Japanese Prints, Bruce A. Coats, Hotei Publishing, 2006, plate 164, p. 143.
 Collections This Print
Digital Collections of Keio University Libraries 023 265National Diet Library Call Number 寄別8-5-2-2 (25 prints in the series bound into an album); Metropolitan Museum of Art 2007.49.331a, (26 prints in the series bound into an album); Claremont Colleges Digital Library 2004.1.19; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 2016.1454
last revision:
2/9/20 created
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