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Turmoil at River Sanzu from the series Long Live Japan: One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Turmoil at River Sanzu

from the series Long Live Japan:

One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs

by Kobayashi Kiyochika, 1895

New Army Recruits from the series Long Live Japan: One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs

IHL Cat. #234

About This Print

This print is one of fifty prints from the first part of the three part series One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs. (Hyakusen hyakushô) created by the artist Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915), the writer Nishimori Takeki (1861-1923), alias Koppi Dōjin, and the publisher Matsuki Heikichi (1870-1931).  

Image Description

A crowd drifting helplessly in the water of a river is depicted here. The figures are characterized as Chinese by their special hats as well as their long pigtails. Desperately they try to reach a small boat controlled by an almost naked devil with a long bar. In the background the viewer can see a kind of shore and a small base, further figures are waiting here. 

On the right hand of the shore there is Datsuebā waving her hand as well as a rectangular stone with the name of the river, "Sanzu-gawa" written on it.


The print was made in May 1895, shortly after the end of the First Sino-Japanese War which was marked by the Treaty of Shimonoseki on April the 17th. 

The Sanzu River or “River of the three crossings” is according to Japanese Buddhist tradition a river crossing the underworld, similar to the Greek river Styx. The name refers to the Buddhist word san-ch´u which means “Way of the Three Evil”: the “Way of Fire” (life in underworld), the “Way of Blood” (rebirth as animal) and the “Way of Knife” (existence as hungry ghost).

In a dramatic way the caricature here recurs to the number of dead recorded on the enemy´s side – they are so numerous that even the underworld is crowded after the war. Even though no exact figures exist officially it has been claimed that almost 12,700 Chinese were killed in action, died of wounds or diseases; the Japanese side suffered losses of 4,100 men during wartime.

In this print even the dead Chinese soldiers still fear the power of the Japanese Army; they try to escape as far as possible to the more “secure” underworld. Caused by the run the little boat is about to sink and so the text comments (referring to the news of Japanese victories at sea) ironically that Chinese people are used to get sunken. Furthermore there is a wordplay dealing with the similar sound of “All good times come in threes” (Nido aru koto wa Sanzu dā) and the name of the River, Sanzu-gawa.(SH)

About The Series One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs

This series One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs was issued in three parts and presented parodies of the enemy, the Chinese in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 and ten years later the Russians in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. The first part of the series titled Long Live Japan: One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs, consisting of fifty prints, was issued between September 1894 and August 1895.  The second part of the series titled Magic Lantern Society: One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs, consisting of twelve prints, was issued between November 1895 and December 1896.  Both of these parts parodied (often in a racist manner) the Chinese people, leadership and war effort. The third and last part of the series, consisting of eight-six prints, used the same title as the first part Long Live Japan: One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs.  Issued between April 1904 and April 1905, the prints parodied the Russian war effort. For more information about the series see the article One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs on this site.

Print's Inscription - Japanese and English

三途川(さんづかハ)の大混雑(おほこんざつ) 骨皮道人

 近頃(ちかころ)ハちやんちやん坊主(ばうず)の亡者(もうじや)が夥(お ほ)いので、三途(さんづ)/川(かハ)の渡(わた)し場(ば)も殊(こと) の外(ほか)の大混雑(おほこんざつ)船頭「コレサコレサ / さう無暗(む やミ)に乗込(のりこ)んぢやァ仕方(しかた)がない お前方(まへがた)/ が乗(のつ)た娑婆(しやば)の船(ふね)ぢやァ、塩漬け(しほづけ)の豚 (ぶた)も同(おな)じ様(やう)に、/ 這入(はい)るだけキシキシと詰込 (つめこむ)さうだが、此(この)地獄(ちごく)へ / 来(き)てまで其傳 (そのでん)を遣(や)ら/れちやア / 困(こま)るぢやァ / ないか エエヲイ ちやん的― /さう押掛け(おしかけ)ちやァ行(い)けねへと云(い)ふに ナニー / 日本兵(にほんへい)が追掛け(おつかけ)て来(く)るト、馬鹿 (ばか)を云(い)ひねへ、イクラ / 日本兵(にほんへい)が強(つよ)いか らツて、地獄(ぢごく)まで追掛け(おつかけ)て来(き)て堪(たま)る / ものか、もう此度(ここ)まで来(く)りやア蘇生(いきかへ)る気遣(きづ か)ひハ / 無(ね)へから安心(あんしん)して居(ゐ)なせへ、と船頭(せん どう)が死力(しりよく)を尽(つく)/して頻(しきり)に製(せい)するを も聞入(ききゐれ)ず、元来(くわんらい)理(り)も悲(ひ)も / 解(わ か)らないちやんちやん坊主(ばうず)とて、只(ただ)無茶苦茶(むちやく ちや)に乗(のり)/込(こん)だから堪(たま)らない、船(ふね)わ忽(た ちま)ちブクブクブクブク、ソラこそ / 沈没(ちんぼつ)と流石(さすが)の 赤鬼(あかおに)も青(あを)くなつたが、沈没(ちんぼつ)馴(なれ)て / 居(ゐ)るちやんちやんハ平気(へいき)の皮(かわ)「ムム又(また)沈没 (ちんぼつ)か極(きま)ッて居(い)/らア、第一 豊島海(ほうとうかい) で沈没(ちんぼつ)、其次(そのつぎ)ハ黄海(くわうかい)で沈没 / したか らどうせ二度(にど)ある事(こと)ハ三途(さんづ)だア

Sanzugawa no ō-konzatsu Koppi Dōjin
Chikagoro wa Chanchan-bōzu no mōja ga ōi node, Sanzu/gawa no watashiba mo koto no hoka no dai-konzatsu. Sendō 「Koresa koresa. / Sō muyami ni norikonjā shikata ga nai. Omaegata / ga notta shaba no fune jā, shiozuke no buta mo onaji yō ni, / hairu dake kishikishi to tsumekomusō da ga, kono jigoku e / kite made sono den o yara/re chā / komaru jā / nai ka. Ēto oi Chan-teki / sō oshikakechā ikenē to iu ni, nanii / Nihonhei ga otsukkakete kuru to, baka o ii nē, ikura / Nihonhei ga tsuyoi karatte, jigoku made okkakete kite tamaru / mono ka, mō koko made kuryā ikikaeru kizukai wa / nai kara anshin shite ina sē, to sendō ga shiryoku o tsuku/shite shikiri ni sei suru o mo kikiirezu, ganrai ri mo hi mo / wakaranai Chanchan-bōzu tote, tada muchakucha ni nori/konda kara tamaranai, fune wa tachimachi bukubukubukubuku, sora koso / chinbotsu to sasuga no akaoni mo aoku natta ga, chinbotsu narete / iru Chanchan wa heiki no kawa 「Mumu mata chinbotsu ka kimatte i/rā, daiichi Hōtōkai de chinbotsu, sono tsugi wa Kōkai de chinbotsu / shita kara dōse nido aru koto wa Sanzu dā 

Rush at the river Styx Koppi Dōjin

Because recently the number of dead Chinese has raised even the crossing of the River Sanzu is crowded. 

The ferryman:”Don´t push like that! Here in the underworld it´s forbidden, not like in the world above where you crowd together like salted pork. Hey silly Chinese fools, don´t push! What…? What do you say, the Japanese troops are following? What nonsense! Even they are really strong, they won´t follow…to the underworld. Don´t worry, you´ve gone that far, you are already dead, there´s no way back to life!”

But the trouble of the desperate ferryman are useless, the insensate Chinese are keeping on pushing and so the boat breaks into – in the twinkling of one eye it sinks, glug glug glug …
And look, as it got sunk even the red devil becomes blue, but the Chinese faces stay the same – they are used to get sunken.

“Once more a ship got sunken. First at Hōtō bay, then at the Yellow Sea but all good times come in threes (wordplay on sando – Sanzu-gawa)!

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description  Turmoil at River Sanzu [also translated as Rush at the River Styx and Great Congestion at the River of Hell]
 Sanzugawa no ō-konzatsu 三途川の大混雑
 Series  Long Live Japan: One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs
[also translated as Long Live Japan! One Hundred Selections, One Hundred Laughs]
 Nihon banzai: Hyakusen hyakushō 日本萬歳 百撰百笑 [日本万歳 百撰百笑]
 Artist  Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915)
 Signature  Kiyochika
 Seal  Kobayashi
 Publication Date  May 1895 (Meiji 28)
 Publisher  Matsuki Heikichi (松木平吉) proprietor of Daikokuya
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition good - light soiling throughout; margins trimmed; backed
 Genre  ukiyo-e - senso-e (Sino-Japanese War); giga; fūshiga
 Format  vertical oban
 H x W Paper
 13 7/8 x 9 1/8 in. (35.2 x 23.2 cm)
 H x W Image
 13 7/8 x 9 1/8 in. (35.2 x 23.2 cm)
 Collections This Print
 Östasiatiska musee OM-2010-0010; Waseda University Library 012-1027; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 2016.1463
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