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Reform/rectify the ruler’s errors with tactful humor from the series Brocade Pictures for Moral Education


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Reform/rectify the ruler’s errors with tactful humor

(Volume 6, story 8, no. 16) from the series

Brocade Pictures for Moral Education

by Mizuno Toshikata, 1883

IHL Cat. #431
Rough Tales of the Floating World told on Eastern Brocades: Sekiguchi Yatarō, Araki Mataemon, Kimura Matazō, Musashibō Benkei

About This Print

This print illustrates story number 8 (八) in volume 6 (巻 ) of the six volume series Brocade Pictures of Moral Education issued in 1883 and 1884 as primary school instructional texts.

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 text.  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 Yuchûkan repairing the manners/world of men from the series Brocade Pictures for Moral Education and Tame/reject wildness/violence with the sincere spirit of a filial child from the series Brocade Pictures for Moral Education.

For more information see the article on this site Brocade Pictures for Moral Education.

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 shūshin 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. Shūshin 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 shūshin 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.

1 Courage and Silence: A Study of the Life and Color Woodblock Prints of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi: 1839-1952, Roger Start Keyes, p. 546.
2 This 1879 Rescript should not be confused with the more famous 1890 Imperial Rescript on Education (kyoiku chokugo.)

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description  Reform/rectify the ruler’s errors with tactful humor [?], Story 8, No. 16
諧虐の風諌能く主の過を改む Kaigyaku no fūkan yoku shu no ayamachi o aratamu,
 Series Brocade Pictures for Moral Education, Volume 6
(錦絵修身談 Nishiki-e shūshindan, maki roku)
 Artist  Mizuno Toshikata (1866-1908)

ōju ("by special request") Toshikata and Toshikata seal

Toshimitsu followed by the character 校 () which follows the signatures of all prints in this series.  The meaning of 校, which appears adjoining a number of signatures in this series of prints is not confirmed.

carver seal unread 〇金刀
 Seal  Toshikata below signature (as shown above)
 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 7/8 x 9 1/4 in. (35.2 x 23.5 cm)
 H x W Image
 13 1/8 x 8 1/2 in. (33.3 x 21.6 cm)
 Collections This Print

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