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Night at Ginza from the series Scenes of Last Tokyo

 

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Night at Ginza

from the series Scenes of Last Tokyo

by Kawakami Sumio, 1945


IHL Cat. #253

About This Print

This print is the 1945 version of Night in Ginza (issued as part of the 15 print series Scenes of Last Tokyo (Tokyo kaiko zue) which was originally issued in 1929 as part of the series One Hundred Views of New Tokyo (Shin Tôkyô hyakkei). (See picture of 1929 version below.)  See IHL Cat. 33 to view a recent reissue of the 1929 print and for a more detailed comparison with the 1945 issue.

Source: The Japanese Print Since 1900: Old Dreams and New Visions, Lawrence Smith, British Museum Publications Ltd., 1983 p. 87.
This [1945] portfolio of fifteen prints (Scenes of Last Tokyo) expresses an intense nostalgia for the artists' haunts of pre-war Tokyo which had just been destroyed.  Nine leading Sosaku Hanga artists of the Japanese Print Association contributed to it.  Kawakami’s view of Ginza in the 1920s is the most memorable and the most lurid.


Original 1945 folder label of this print
夜の銀座    川上澄生

1929 Original Issue of Night at Ginza

Number 65 from the series One Hundred Views of New Tokyo (Shin Tôkyô hyakkei)

Ginza (#65), 8/7/1929

Carnegie Museum of Art 89.28.1313.2

Modern Boys and Girls on the Ginza

Source: Terrific Tokyo A Panorama in Prints: from the 1860s to the 1930s, Elizabeth de Sabato Swinton, Worcester Art Museum. 1998 p. 76

This witty hot pink and bright blue Ginza (the word is written vertically along the image's right edge) is clearly the bustling place of the moga (modern girls) and mobo (modern boys).  The fashionable young women promenading down the street turn their heads to observe and be observed.  Kawakami creates a sense of immediacy - of the viewer being part of the crowd - with strong color and by cropping the figures in foreground and middle ground, as well as with the objects inserted along both sides of the picture surface. He is best known for including curious old foreign objects in his prints; the masked profile face seen through the rear window of the car on the left looks like a character from the Italian commedia dell'arte.  The artist's consciously rough, simplified carving and his flamboyant color convey the modish modernity characteristic of the place and its habitués.

Source: Ukiyo-e to Shin hanga - The Art of Japanese Woodblock Prints, Amy Newland and Chris Uhlenbeck, Brompton Books Corporation, 1990 p. 208, 210.
Night in Ginza provides a glimpse at the Japan of the 1920s when Western dress and culture was all the rage, when young women, as seen in the foreground of the print, had bobbed hair just like the flappers in the West.  These moden garu (modern girl) strolled down the avenues of the fashionable districts like the Ginza.  In this print, these women contrast the kimono-clad woman who oddly enough stands with her back turned towards them.

Ginza 1926 and Today



 
"Modern girls" in beach pajama fashion on the Ginza c. 1926
 
Modern girls on the Ginza today


the Ginza today
(note the coincidental blue umbrellas which also appear in the print)

Print Details

 IHL Catalog  #253
 Title  Night at Ginza
 夜の銀座 Yoru no Ginza 
 Series  Scenes of Last Tokyo [also seen translated as Recollections of Tokyo]
 東京回顧図会 Tokyo kaiko zue
 Artist
 Sumio Kawakami 川上澄生 (1895-1972)
 Signature
 Sumio han (print by Sumio) in upper right of image disguised as the name of a building
 Seal  none
 Publication Date  originally 1929 in the series One Hundred Views of New Tokyo (Shin Tokyo hyakkei). Again in 1945 using recarved blocks for the series Scenes of Lost (Last) Tokyo (Tokyo kaiko zue)
 Edition  1945
 Publisher  Fugaku Shuppansha 富岳出版社, Tokyo, Uemura Masurō 上村益郎 publisher
 Printer  Hirai Kōichi 平井孝一 
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  excellent - watermark on back, slightly noticeable on front. Accompanied by original paper label printed with artists' names and titles in both Japanese and English
 Genre  sosaku hanga (creative print)
 Miscellaneous  Reprinted for Tokyo Kaiko zue from recut blocks of 1929 image (see below) which was originally published as part of the series One Hundred Views of New Tokyo (Shin Tokyo hyakkei).  Also see catalog #33 for a 1979 reprint of the 1929 image.
 Format  chuban
 H x W Paper  7 1/2 x 10 1/4 in. (19 x 26 cm)
 H x W Image  7 1/4 x  9 1/2 in. (18.4 x 24.1 cm)
 Collections This Print  Museum of Fine Arts Boston 59.838; Carnegie Museum of Art 89.28.709.5; Worcester Art Museum, Members’ Council Fund, 1987.79.9; The British Museum 1980,1227,0.18.12; Mead Art Museum at Amherst College 2008.63.12; Smithsonian Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery S1995.118.4; Portland Art Museum 1996.31.2l
 Reference Literature  The Artist's Touch, The Craftsman's Hand: Three Centuries of Japanese Prints from the Portland Art Museum, Maribeth Graybill, Portland Art Museum, Oregon, 2011, p. 301; The Japanese Print Since 1900: Old dreams and new visions, Lawrence Smith, British Museum Publications Ltd, 1983, p. 36, pl 87; Terrific Tokyo A Panorama in Prints: from the 1860s to the 1930s, Elizabeth de Sabato Swinton, Worcester Art Museum. 1998 p. 76, pl. 46; Made in Japan – The Postwar Creative Print Movement, Alicia Volk, Milwaukee Art Museum, 2005, p. 35; Modern Japanese Prints: The Twentieth Century, Amanda T. Zehnder, Carnegie Museum of Art, 2009, p. 70

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