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Nōgakuzue, Genjō


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Genjō 絃上

from the series Nōgakuzue

by Tsukioka Kōgyo, 1897

Nōgakuzue, Kurama Tengu

IHL Cat. #1162

About This Print

One of 261 prints from the series Nōgakuzue (Illustrations of Noh).  The print depicts a scene from the play Genjō (also seen written as Kenjō) sometimes attributed to the playwright Kawakami kannushi (dates unknown) in which the sea dragon-god appears carrying a famous lute.

This is one of several prints in the series in which the artist uses the actual stage as the background.

For background on the Noh theater see the article on this site "Noh - A Brief Summary by Beata Kubiak Ho-Chi".

The Play - Genjō

Source: A Guide to No, P.G. O'Neill, Hinoki Shoten, 1929, p. 41-42.

Fifth Group
All Noh schools


Act 1:

Tsure – Fujiwara no Moronaga

Waki - a retainer

Waki-tsure – two or three retainers

Tsure – an old woman

Shite – an old man

Kyōgen - a sea creature

Act 2:

Nochi-shite – the Emperor Murakami

Nochi-tsure – a dragon-god


The famous lute player Moronaga is about to sail for China for further training on the instrument in that country, when he stops for a night at Suma Bay to view the moon.  He plays a piece on a lute for the old couple in whose house he is lodging, and is surprised to find them so appreciative of the music that when a shower of rain patters down on the roof they hasten to spread rush mats there to deaden the sound.  He therefore asks them to play a piece, and when they play on the lute and Japanese hard their performance is so skillful that he abandons altogether his plan of going to study in China.  At this, the old couple reveal that they are in fact the Emperor Murakami and his consort, the Lady Nashitsubo, and that the Emperor had played the melody on the famous lute called Genjō in the hope that after hearing it Moronaga would give up his journey abroad.  They then vanish, but the Emperor reappears shortly afterwards and summons a dragon-god from the sea.  He retrieves from him another famous lute, Shishi-maru, which had been seized by the draon-god when it was on its way to Japan with Genjō, and this he presents to Moronaga.

Right Margin Description of Scene

click on image to enlarge

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1162
 Title Genjō 絃上 (sometimes seen as Kenjō)
 Series Nōgakuzue 能樂圖繪 (Illustrations of Noh)
 Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927)
 Kōgyo 耕漁
White letter seal in a square shape: 年久/之印 [Toshihisa / no in]
"Toshihisa no inseal no. 39, p. 171 in The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010.
 DateThis collection's print was issued in August 1897 as shown in the print's left margin, as follows: 
Date of Printing: August 5, 1897
Date of Issuance: partially trimmed

The ARC database entry for their print arcUP0868 carries different dates from this collection's print, as follows: 
Printed on November 1, 1900; Issued on November 5, 1900
 Edition unknown 
Matsuki Heikichi (Daikokuya Heikichi 大黒屋平) [Marks: pub. ref. 029]
 日本橋区吉川町二番地 松木平吉 (in left margin) followed by Daikokuya seal,  as shown on left.  
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - album backing; left margin slightly trimmed; light toning and soiling
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Format oban yoko-e
 H x W Paper 9 1/2 x 14 1/8 in. (24.1 x 35.9 cm)
 H x W Image
 9 x 13 3/16 in. (22.9 x 33.5 cm) area within printed black border
 Collections This PrintArt Institute of Chicago 1939.2258.3; Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University AcNo. arcUP0852 CoGNo. arcUP0840 AlGNo. arcUP0840; University of Pittsburgh 20091209-kogyo-0168; Rijksmuseum RP-P-1980-25
 Reference Literature