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Yoshiwara Park: Army Foot Soldier Private Second Class Mr. Nakamura Fukusaburō from the Picture Album of the History of the Taishō Great Earthquake / Vol. 1

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Yoshiwara Park: Army Foot Solider

Private Second Class Mr. Nakamura Fukusaburō

from the Picture Album of the History of the Taishō Great Earthquake / Vol. 1

by Unread, 1923

Evacuees in the Suburbs of Tokyo from the Picture Album of the History of the Taishō Great Earthquake


IHL Cat. #1007

About This Print

The bravery of Private Nakamura Fukusaburō is depicted, rushing to help the people trapped near Yoshiwara Pond as the firestorm that engulfed Tokyo after the 1923 Great Kantō Earthquake rages.  The inscription to the left of Nakamura reads:

一聲に恨みを・尽せ杜鵑 
Issei ni urami wo tsukuse hototogisu 

Cuckoo! With one voice, exhaust your regrets!

This print was part of the album titled Picture Album of the History of the Taishō Great Earthquake / Vol. 1. It is not known how many prints were included in the album and whether more than one volume was published. The only other print I have seen from this folio is in this collection and titled Evacuees in the Suburbs of Tokyo.

What I believe to be the seal of the artist, left side within the image, is unread. There is another seal in the bottom left margin of the print which reads, in seal script, "福". This may be a seal used by the Japan Print Association (Nihon hangakai) which published the album.

Explanatory Text
Source: with thanks to Dr. Maribeth Graybill, The Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Curator of Asian Art, Portland Art Museum

A translation of the explanatory text in Japanese (see scan below), kindly provided by Dr. Maribeth Graybill, follows:

At the edge of the pond in Yoshiwara Park, there is a large signpost inscribed, "Site of the Army Foot Soldier Private Second Class Nakamura Fukusaburō’s funsh (death in a fit of anger or indignation),” and on the reverse we discern the pitiful/sad verse, Cuckoo! With one voice, exhaust your regrets! In front of the post, incense is always burning; pilgrims who venerate [Nakamura] as sukui no kami (god of aid/help) all have damp sleeves (from their tears). Mr. Nakamura was a member of the Foot Soldiers (?Infantry) Third Regiment, Ninth Company. Having been granted leave in honor of his services, he had returned [home]. By sheer coincidence, [he] encountered the Great Earthquake of September 1, 1923. His house collapsed, burying four members of his family.

Just [at that time], Private Second Class Nakamura had gone out; astonished, he rushed home and helped his family. Then, giving thought to his landlord, he went to check on his safety. [By the time he] returned to the bank of the Yoshiwara Pond, the fire was burning on all four sides. Surrounded by flames, there was nothing he could do. Gradually, crowds [fleeing the fire], covering their heads with wood planks or bedclothes [gathered at the pond]. As they kept pushing and pushing, and it was impossible to count the number who drowned in the pond. Under attack by the fire, there were those who threw their own children into the pond. All of a sudden, the area turned into a scene of carnage like the Hell of Fiery Heat [one of the Eight Buddhist Hells]. Then, the courageous Mr. Nakamura, with great valor, saved the children that had been thrown into the pond, poured water over the heads of the refuges [those who had escaped to the park], carrying out remarkable feats. He climbed on a wisteria trellis to point out the direction where the masses could escape. Because of this, several thousand lives were saved.  The usually filial Private Second Class, not realizing that his own mother and elder brother had come to this spot when they fled the fire, attempted to return to his home, but the opportunity [to do so] was lost; it was no longer possible to escape from the intense flames. He died tragically near a fire hydrant at the edge of the pond. Mr. Nakamura was a 髪職 (hairdresser?) at the Asakusa Tokiwaza Theater, and because his family was poor, he was receiving military relief [assistance from the military]. [For one of] his gentle nature to sacrifice himself to help the many is truly a model for all. The memorial post and the heroic verse were probably erected out of the gratitude of the many he saved. The ever-present incense also testifies to the great numbers that he rescued. 

説明文有 setsumeibun ari
Explanatory Text included with print
click on image to enlarge
 

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 #1007
 Title吉原公園 / 陸軍歩 二等卒中村福三郎君
Yoshiwara kōen / Rikugunpo nitōsotsu Nakamura Fukusaburō kun
Yoshiwara Park: Army Foot Solider Private Second Class Mr. Nakamura Fukusaburō
 Series 大正大震史畫譜 第壱集 Taishō Daishinshi gafu / daiisshū
Picture Album of the History of the Taishō Great Earthquake / Vol. 1
 Artist Unread
 Signature/Seal seal unread, not signed
 Seal福 (in seal script) [possibly the seal of the publisher]
 Publication Date 1923 (Taishō 12)
 Publisher 日本版畫會 Nihon hangakai [Japan Print Association]
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - minor foxing and toning; full-size sheet
 Genre ukiyo-e 
 Miscellaneous 
 Format oban
 H x W Paper 
 14 9/16 x 10 3/8 in. (37 x 26.4 cm) 
 H x W Image 12 1/16 x 8 1/2 in. (30.6 x 21.6 cm)
 Literature 

 Collections This Print
 
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