This print illustrates the proverb akuji senri wo hashiru 悪事千里を走る - "bad news travels quickly" or "bad news has wings." (Lit.: bad new runs one thousand "ri" [about 2.44 miles], a traditional measure of distance in Japan.)
Source: Comic Genius: Kawanabe Kyōsai, Oikawa Shigeru, Clark Timothy and Forrer Matthi, Tokyo Shinbun, 1996, p. 206.
This print was issued as part of the series the Kyōsai hyakuzu 狂斎百図 (One Hundred Pictures by Kyōsai) which consists of more than 200 pictorializations of proverbs and depictions of famous subjects unrelated to proverbs. The prints were published continuously from 1863 to 1866* by the publisher Wakasaya and the works were later reprinted in album form by the publisher Ōkura Magobei (Ōkuraya) in 1881 and 1886. The prints in this collection are likely from one of Ōkura Magobei's reprint editions, as they show evidence of having been removed from an album.
One hundred of the proverbs depicted in Kyōsai hyakuzu were translated into French in 1885 under the title Cent Proverbes Japonais by Francis Steenackers and Ueda Tokunosuke.
This print series was very popular, enhancing Kyōsai's reputation and making a large profit for the publishers.
*1863-1866 are the most common publication dates provided for these prints, though the literature cites dates as early as 1862 for the first publication date and reprints of this series are still being made. The prints were first issued by publisher Wakasaya Yoichi (aka Jakurindō Yoichi) as single-sheet prints, sold in ten print packages in a decorative envelope. Ōkura Magobei (aka Yorozuya Magobei) re-published the prints in bound book/album form in the 1880s.
| IHL Catalog
|Title or Description|| Bad News Travel Quickly
悪事千里を走る Akuji senri o hashiru
|Artist|| Kawanabe Kyōsai (1831-1889)
|Series||Kyōsai hyakuzu 狂斎百図 (One Hundred Pictures by Kyosai)|
|Signature||Kyōsai ga 狂斎画|
|Publication Date|| c. 1880s (originally c. 1863-1866)
|Publisher||Ōkura Magobei - originally issued by Wakasaya Yoichi and then reprinted in book form by Ōkura Magobei|
|Condition||excellent - original album backing|
|Genre|| ukiyo-e; giga (comic print)
|Format||koban [Vertical yotsugiri (quarter ōban)]|
| H x W Paper
|| 7 1/4 x 4 3/4 in. (18.4 x 12.1 cm)
| Reference Literature