Fishing for Bonito in Tosa Province from the series Dai Nippon Bussan Zue (Products of Greater Japan)

 

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Fishing for Bonito in Tosa Province

from the series Dai Nippon Bussan Zue

(Products of Greater Japan)

by Utagawa Hiroshige III, 1877

Making Dried Bonito Flakes in Tosa Province from the series Dai Nippon Bussan Zue (Products of Greater Japan)


IHL Cat. #1492

About This Print

One of 118 prints in the series Dai Nippon Bussan Zue (Products of Greater Japan)issued in August 1877 to coincide with the opening of Japan’s first National Industrial Exposition (Naikoku Kangyō Hakurankai) held in Tokyo’s Ueno Park, depicting fishermen throwing their catch of bonito up on the shore to a group of men and women waiting to clean them.1

"Bonito is arguably the most favored fish among the people in Japan. Hatsu-gatsuo, the first bonito of the season, becomes available in early summer and was a highly prized delicacy in the capital city of Edo in the 19th century. Bonito fishermen traditionally used fishing poles rather than nets in order to minimize the damage and stress on the fish, believing that this would enhance their flavor."2 

Tosa Province (土佐国 Tosa no kuni) is a former province of Japan in the area that is today Kōchi Prefecture on Shikoku. Tosa was bordered by Iyo and Awa Provinces. It was sometimes called Doshū (土州).3

The artist based many of his designs on the designs that appeared in the 1799 book Nihon Sankai Meisan Zue (Famous Sea and Land Products in Japan), leaving some question whether everything Hiroshige III portrayed in the series was truly the "state of the art" in 1877 when the series was issued. (Although for many activities pictured, things would have looked much the same in 1877 as in 1799.) In many cases, the information in the scroll is also copied from the earlier work.

click on image to enlarge
Illustration of fishing for bonito from Nihon Sankai Meisan Zue (Famous Sea and Land Products in Japan), 1799


Multiple Editions (Variant Printings)

At least three variant printings (editions) were made of this series.  Each variant printing uses a different colored cartouche for the series' title, either red, green or rainbow-colored.  Different colored borders were also used and variances in the use of colors and shading are present in the three editions.  This print's blue-colored cartouche is the only one I've seen in the series.

1 The Industries of Japan: Together with an Account of its Agriculture, Forestry, Arts and Commerce, J. J. Rein, A. C. Armstrong and Son, 1889, p. 173.
2 website of Minneapolis Institute of Art http://collections.artsmia.org/art/61327/bonito-fishing-on-the-ocean-tosa-province-utagawa-hiroshige
3 Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tosa_Province

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 #1492
 Title or Description  Fishing for Bonito in Tosa Province
 土佐国鰹釣之図  Tosa no kuni katsuo tsuri no zu
 Series
 Dai Nippon Bussan Zue 大日本物産図会 (Products of Greater Japan)
 Artist  Utagawa Hiroshige III (1842–1894)
 Signature
 廣重筆 Hiroshige hitsu in bottom right margin (trimmed on this print)
 Seal  none
 Publication Date  1877 (Meiji 10) 
 Publisher
 Ōkura Magobei 大倉孫兵衛 (Kin'eido; 1843-1921) [Marks: pub. ref. 627]

 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  good - vertical centerfold reinforced by tape on verso; several pin holes in image
 Genre  nishiki-e; kaika-e
 Miscellaneous   
 Format  chuban
 H x W Paper 
 6 13/16 x 9 1/4 in. (17.3 x 23.5 cm)
 H x W Image
 6 5/16 x 9 1/16 in.  (16 x 23 cm)
 Literature 

 Collections This Print
 Waseda University Library Archives 01_04265_0001; Art Gallery of Greater 2008.014.007
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