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Comical Record of Japanese History: Thunder God and Demons

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Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Comical Record of Japanese History: Thunder God and Demons

by Utagawa Yoshiiku, 1895

 IHL Cat. #248

About This Print

One of nine prints from the series Kokkei Nihon Shiki (Humorous Japanese History) which commemorates a Japanese military victory against China in 1894 and is a parody of Hyakki Yakō  (Night Parade of One Hundred Demons).   The nine prints read as a scroll when placed next to each other (see image below.)   The top inset of this print depicts three strange women, three monsters and a red fish inscribed as "Bay".  The bottom inset depicts Chinese in various caricature, a Japanese soldier as the Thunder God, a Japanese soldier dressed in kimono, and a Japanese naval officer being entreated by Chinese depicted as rats (see the print Rats in a Bag by Kiyochika for another use of this caricature).

The Ukiyo’e caricatures 1842-1905 website1 of the Department of East Asian Studies - Japanese Studies, University of Vienna provides the following Japanese transcriptions of the kanji for each caricature in the bottom inset:
1. Tonbi horyo horyo
2. Genbu aitaka Sakuramaru
3. Riku wa kachi go-banzai
4. Pekin kaminari doji-oyaji
5. Hōtō ni mo fude no ayamari
6. Umi katte ji katamaru
7. Teijo jōbu ni mamorezu
8. Heijō chan nenbutsu
9. Atama kakushite shiri kakusazu

1 http://kenkyuu.jpn.univie.ac.at/karikaturen/detail.asp?docid=1442&lang=e&first=1

The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons

Source: Field Museum website
The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons is a theme that has captivated the imagination of Japanese artists for centuries. Since the Heian period (794-1185 AD), and perhaps even earlier, Japanese painters have rendered scenes of demonic creatures romping and cavorting at night. Japanese story tellers say that one night each summer all sorts of terrifying beings make their way to the mountains to enjoy themselves with games and amusements.

The publication by Toriyama Sekien of a book on Hyakki Yako in 1776 signaled a new interest in the fantastic theme of Night Parade of One Hundred Demons, which was to last throughout the Edo and Meiji periods. Late in the nineteenth century, the printmaker Utagawa Yoshiiku (1833-1904) produced several imaginative illustrations based on the Night Parade of One Hundred Demons. One of these was his Kokkei Wanisshi-ki (Comical Record of Japanese History), which employs the theme of 100 demons to comment on contemporary Japanese military actions in China. 

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description  Thunder God and Demons
 Series  Comical Record of Japanese History [Kokkei Wanisshi-ki (滑稽倭日史記 )] Sometimes translated as Humorous Japanese History
 Artist  Utagawa Yoshiiku (1833-1904)
 Signature  Sharakusai Yoshiiku
 Seal  artist's red circular seal "Sharaku"
 Publication Date  July 1895
 Publisher  Akiyama Buemon (Kokkei-do)
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  good - light overall toning; a few pin holes; light wrinkling
 Genre  ukiyo-e - giga; senso-e (Sino-Japanese War); Meiji era
 Format  vertical oban
 H x W Paper
 14 3/4 x 9 3/4 in. (34.6 x 23.5 cm)

 Collections This Print
 Spencer Museum of Art (University of Kansas) 1984.0059f