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Maiko from the series Occupations of Shōwa Japan in Pictures, Continuing, Series 3

Wada Sanzō (1883-1967)

Japanese Color Woodblock Print


from the series

Occupations of Shōwa Japan in Pictures, Continuing, series 3

by Wada Sanzō, 1955

Wada Sanzō (1883-1967)

IHL Cat. #1084

About This Print

Wada gives us a glimpse of the famous Kyoto Maiko watching and participating in a performance. This print is one of twenty-four in the post-WWII publication (published from November 1954 through September 1956) by the publisher Kyoto Hangain of the 3rd series of prints titled series Occupations of the Shōwa Era in Pictures, Continuing.  The 3rd series seems to have been issued in both a numbered edition of 200 prints, with each print numbered in a rectangular cartouche located in the bottom left margin, and an unnumbered edition, such as this collection's print. Each print in this 3rd series came with a sheet of explanatory text, written in both Japanese and English.

Text of the Accompanying Explanatory Sheet

        "Maiko" or "Geisha-to-be" in Gion, Kyoto, are said to be quite different from those in Tokyo and Osaka in their manners and customs.  Most of Gion "Maiko" are brought up since childhood at this Gion amusement district and their mothers also live and work in the same district.
        Before the war, even apprentice Maiko who entered the profession at the age of eleven or twelve had to work at the entertaining house.  But now after the war, new labour regulations prohibit them to work until they reach the age of 15 or 16.
        They are trained strictly in such various accomplishments, as Japanese dance, signing, Shamisen musical instrument.  They look innocent in appearance but they must be quite grown-up women in mind already.
        The Maiko's coiffure is most characteristic.  They must dress their hair up in traditional Japanese way, as you see in the picture.  The scene of Maiko with such beautiful Kimono and strange coiffure walking across the famous Shijo bridge in Kyoto is one of attractive sights in Kyoto.  Their employers must spend much money to buy gorgeous Kimonos for them, which is a big cause of worry for the employers, but this might also be a big investment as well.

Two Additional States from the publisher Kyoto Hangain
numbered edition but note the use of a different artist seal
in the lower left of the image

unnumbered edition - note lack of publishing information contained in the numbered  edition

About the Series "Occupations of the Shōwa Era in Pictures"
Sources: website of Ross Walker Ohmi Gallery http://www.ohmigallery.com/DB/Artists/Sales/Wada_Sanzo.asp  and website of USC Pacific Asian Museum "Exhibition - The Occupations of Shōwa Japan in Pictures: The Woodblock Prints of Wada Sanzō" 

My special thanks to Shinagawa Daiwa, the current owner of Kyoto Hangain, for providing the below information (in a series of emails in July 2014) about Nishinomiya Shoin and Kyoto Hangain, both businesses started by his father Shinagawa Kyoomi.  Shinagawa's current website can be accessed at http://www.amy.hi-ho.ne.jp/kyotohangain/

Wada’s major contribution as a woodblock print artist came through his 72 print 3-part series Occupations of the Shōwa Era in Pictures (Shōwa shokugyō e-zukishi), sometimes translated as Japanese Vocations in Pictures. The three part series was started during the Pacific War (1937-1945) in September 1938, was then interrupted by war shortages in 1943, and was restarted again after the war in January 1954. This series was a labor of love for Wada and he brought together woodblock print printers and carvers in Nishimomiya near Kobe to work on this project

The war era prints were published by Wada through an old books store, Nishinomiya shoin 西宮書院 run by Shinagawa Kyoomi  
品川清臣.  Wada
 planned a total of 100 designs, with two prints being issued each month. Wada's designs for the prints were rendered in watercolor and the finished prints beautifully captured the look-and-feel of those original watercolors. The series was an immediate hit, but was suspended after 48 prints (issued in two series) in 1943 due to war shortages.

After the war, the series was continued by the same publisher, Shinagawa Kyoomi, who had opened a new business in Kyoto, which he named Kyoto Hangain 京都版画院.  (Shingawa's business in Nishinomiya had burned down during WWII.) At first Kyoto Hangain published re-prints of the earlier prints, but they went on to publish a third series of 24 prints, working closely with Wada, titled Continuing Occupations of the Shōwa Era in Pictures between November 1954 and September 1956. The post-war prints were popular with the Occupation's "deep-pocketed" military and civilian personnel and the series was "featured in an article of the Tokyo edition of the United States military newspaper Stars and Stripes."2 Shinagawa also published a six print portfolio in the 1950s titled Japanese Life and Customs, consisting of six of the prints from the earlier two series in a reduced chuban size, which is also part of this collection.

Occupations of the Shōwa Era in Pictures has been praised for showing “the complexity of Shōwa society…. capture[ing] the pulse of Japanese life during the tumultuous decades of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s”and condemned as providing a “visual message of subtle or blatant propaganda in support of government-sponsored ideas.”4 

It is interesting to see how the commentary, written by the artist, that accompanied each print in the pre-war releases was softened for the post-war re-issues by Kyoto Hangain.  All references to soldiers being away from home (as Japanese armies were marching through Asia when the series was originally released) or references to Imperial Japan have been stripped away and the commentary becomes innocent, folk-like and appealing to the post-war occupying forces.  (For example, see the prints Women Weavers and Picture Card Show which provide an abridged version of the artist's original commentary and a full transcript of the English text attached to the folders of the post-war re-issued prints.)

1 Keizaburo Yamaguchi gives the publication dates of the post-War series as January 1954 through autumn 1958. (Ukiyo-e Art 16, 1967): 39-42. 
2 "Out of the Dark Valley: Japanese Woodblock Prints and War, 1937-1945," Kendall H. Brown,p. 82 appearing in Impressions, The Journal of the Ukiyo-e Society of America, Inc., Number 23, 2001.
Pacific Asia Museum website http://www.pacificasiamuseum.org/_on_view/exhibitions/2004/occshowa.aspx 
4 Light in Darkness: Women in Japanese Prints of Early Shōwa (1926-1945), Kendall H. Brown, et. al., Fisher Gallery, University of Southern California, 1996, p. 18.

Print Details
 IHL Catalog  #1084
 Title/Description  Maiko (舞子)
 Series  Occupations of Shōwa Japan in Pictures, Continuing, series 3
Zoku Shōwa shokugyō e-zukushi (續昭和職業繪盡)
 Wada Sanzō (1883-1967)
 三造 Sanzō
 Publication Date  February 1955
hanmoto Kyoto Hangain 版元 京都版画院 with Shinagawa seal
苐一五二 号 [152 of an edition of 200]
 彫 菊田 [幸次郎] carver Kikuta [Kōjirō] 
 Printer (see image above) 摺 大野 [千代三] printer Ono [Chiyozō] 大野 [千代三]
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  fair- deep toning and mat line outside of image area; light toning within image; four holes in bottom margin; mounting remnants along top margin verso
 Genre  shin hanga
 Format  dai-oban
 H x W Paper  13 3/4 x 17 in. (34.9 x 43.2 cm) 
 H x W Image  10 3/4 x 14 1/2 in. (27.3 x 36.8 cm)
 Collections This Print  
 Reference Literature   
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