Tame/reject wildness/violence with the sincere spirit of a filial child from the series Brocade Pictures for Moral Education

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Tame/reject wildness/violence with the sincere spirit of a filial child

(Volume 1, story 12, no. 11) from the series

Brocade Pictures for Moral Education

by Kobayashi Toshimitsu, 1883

IHL Cat. #430
title cartouche detail

About This Print

This print illustrates story number 12 (十二in volume 1 (巻 ) of the six volume series Brocade Pictures of Moral Education issued in 1883 and 1884 as primary school instructional texts. In this print we see Yang Xiang (Yoko) rescuing his father from a tiger who has threatened to eat him. Yang yells at the tiger and offers himself in place of his father. The tiger flees and the father is saved thanks to the exemplary filial behavior of his son.

In October 1883 a set of at least ninety full color oban-size prints, designed by students of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) were issued by Fukyūsha as supplements, or accompaniments, to the six volumes of instructional textbooks.  Many of the prints issued were based upon Yoshitoshi's black and white illustrations in the texts. Each of the full-color prints carries the same title as the textbooks, Brocade Prints for Moral Education (Nishiki-e shūshindan  錦絵修身談) and each print also references the volume number, story number and page number of the portion of the text it is illustrating.  The signatures of the following students of Yoshitoshi appear on various prints - Mizuno Toshikata (1866-1908) 水野年方, Tominaga Toshichika 富永年親 (1847-?), Tsutsui Toshimine 筒井年峰  or 年峯 (1863-1934), Kobayashi Toshimitsu (active 1876–1904) and Inano Toshitsune 稲野年恒 (1859-1907).

For other prints in this series see Reform/rectify the ruler’s errors with tactful humor from the series Brocade Pictures for Moral Education and Yuchûkan repairing the manners/world of men from the series Brocade Pictures for Moral Education.

Comparison of Yoshitoshi's original black and white illustration in Volume 1 and Toshimitsu's print


Moral Education (Shūshin)

Sources: Moral Education in Japan; Implications for American Schools (Thesis Research), Taku Ikemoto,
May 10, 1996 and "Moral education in Japan", Klaus Luhmer, appearing the Journal of Moral Education, vol. 19 no. 3, Oct. 1990, p. 172-182.

In the 1870s the Japanese government embarked on a program of modernization that included the establishment of a new educational system based on Western models. The 1872 Government Order of Education (Gakusei) which established a system of compulsory education stated, "We look forward to a time when there will be no illiteracy in any village house, no illiterate in any home."  Ethics instruction [and moral education]—which used teachings drawn from Japanese, Chinese, and Western sources—became an important component of the new curriculum.

Moral education was called shshin 修身, which literally means "self-discipline," a word taken from one of the classics of Confucianism.  In the early days of the Meiji era there were no prescribed course of study or textbooks, tests or school marks. It was left to the imagination of the individual teacher how to handle this subject.

In 1879, most "Western sources" were removed from the moral education curriculum as a result of the Imperial Rescript on Education (kyogaku taishi)2, in which the "Emperor lamented the general decay of public morals, for which he blamed the influx of Western learning."  "[M]oral education, based on traditional spirit, was listed at the top of all subjects at elementary schools."

"Teachers were encouraged to enforce strict discipline, calling attention to the Confucianist moral concepts which enjoyed a long tradition in Japan. Shshin received increased attention and its content and purpose was more clearly defined. A number of guides were published to serve teachers and school administrators as aids for enforcing the national spirit by means of this subject."

The six volume series Nishiki-e shūshindan  錦絵修身談, produced in 1883 and 1884, likely found both home and classroom use for teaching shshin.

The 1890 Imperial Rescript on Education (kyoiku chokugo) re-introduced the teaching of Western concepts and clarified the pillars of shshin as State Shinto, Confucianism and modern political and social ethics, which included respect for the Constitution, observation of laws and calls for dutiful citizens who, should emergency arise, offer themselves "courageously to the State..."

The Rescript was invalidated in 1948.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Tame/reject wildness/violence with the sincere spirit of a filial child, Story 12, Number 11
孝子の精誠能く猛獣を却  Kōko no makoto yoku takesa _ _
 Series Brocade Pictures for Moral Education, Volume 1
(錦絵修身談 Nishiki-e shshindan, maki ichi)
 Artist  Kobayashi Toshimitsu (active 1876–1904)
Right-most signature:  年親 Toshichika followed by 画 ga (drawn by.)

Left-most signature: 年光 Toshimitsu followed by an unread character that was first thought to be aratame (indicating a change in the artist's name) and then thought to be eda (indicating support, aid, or assistance) and finally kō (whose meaning is unclear.)

[See the artist's biography for a discussion of the relationship of these two go (artist names.)]
 Seal  not sealed
 Publication Date  1883
 Publisher  Fukyūsha 普及舎 
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  fair - soiling throughout, not backed
 Genre  ukiyo-e
 Format  vertical oban
 H x W Paper
 13 3/4 x 9 1/4 in. (34.9 x 23.5 cm)
 H x W Image
 13 1/4 x 8 5/8 in. (33.7 x 21.9 cm)
 Collections This Print
 Ritsumeikan Art Research Center (ARC) Z0173-428
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