The Fireflies of Uji River

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

The Fireflies of Uji River

by Tokuriki Tomikichirō, c. 1950

IHL Cat. #382

About This Print

This print is likely a post-WWII issue by Uchida Woodblock Printing Company.  It was originally issued by Uchida in the late 1930s1 as part of the series Fifteen Views of Kyoto

Fireflies at Uji

Source: Lafcadio Hearn: Japan's Great Interpreter: A New Anthology of His Writings 1894-1904, Louis Allen, Jean Wilson, Japan Library Ltd., 1992, p. 189-190.
Two species of firefly have a wide distribution in Japan; and these have been popularly named Genji-hotaru and Heike-hotaru: that is to say, ‘the Minamoto-Firefly’ and “the Taira-Firefly’.  A legend avers that these fireflies are the ghosts of the old Minamoto and Taira warriors; that, even in their insect shapes, they remember the awful clan-struggle of the twelfth century; and that once every year, on the night of the twentieth day of the fourth month, they fight a great battle on the Uji River.  Therefore, on that night all caged fireflies should be set free, in order that they may be able to take part in the contest.

At present the most famous place for fireflies is in the neighbourhood of Uji, in Yamashiro….  But it is on the river, at a point several miles from the town, that the great spectacle is to be witnessed – the Hotaru-Kassen, or Firefly Battle.

Fireflies on the Uji River at night

Print Details

 IHL Catalog  #381
 Title  The Fireflies of Uji River (English title in the table of contents for the series folder)
 Series  Fifteen Views of Kyoto
 Tokuriki Tomikichirō (1902-2000)
 Seal  not sealed
 Date  c. post WWII
 Edition  likley a later post WWII edition
 Publisher  Uchida Bijutsu Shoten (U Chi Da Han seal)1
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  excellent - two minor spots of residue from previous folio mounting
 Genre  shin hanga (new print)
 Format  shikishiban
 H x W Paper  11 1/8 x 9 7/8 in. (28.3 x 25.1 cm)
 H x W Image
 10 3/4 x 9 3/4 in. (27.3 x 24.8 cm)
 Collections This Print
 Reference Literature  

1 see for information on this publisher's seal often misidentified as the artist's seal