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Sake Brewer, print number 19, from the series Occupations of Shōwa Japan in Pictures, Series 2

Wada Sanzō (1883-1967)
 

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Sake Brewer

print number 19 from the series

Occupations of Shōwa Japan in Pictures, Series 2

by Wada Sanzō, 1939-1941

Wada Sanzō (1883-1967)


IHL Cat. #973

About This Print

Five workers stir the mash during the fermentation process in this nineteenth print in the second series of Occupations of Shōwa Japan in Pictures, published by Nishinomiya Shoin between 1939 and 1941. While there is no sense of trouble brewing in this print, the Second Sino-Japanese War leading into World War II was a tough time for sake production, as the government began to tightly control distribution of rice for war efforts which led to the addition of pure alcohol and glucose to the rice mash before pressing to improve the yield.

Artist's Commentary from the First Edition

[First Edition, 1939-1941, published by Nishinomiya Shoin]
[Translation taken from 
Memories of Shōwa: Impressions of Working Life by Wada Sanzō,
Maureen de Vries and Daphne van der Molen, Nihon no hanga, 2021, p. 59.]


The Sake Brewer

I have been wondering for a long time about the strangeness of the fact we call the person making the sake a 'brewer'. When I looked it up in the dictionary it was described in roughly the following manner.


One explanation is that 'brewer', 'master brewer', and 'sake brewer' all originate from older terms such as 'god of the sake jar'. According to other series the person, by the name of Du Kang, preparing the sake at the court of The Yellow Emperor long ago was called a brewer. And others seem to think it was a kind of nickname.


Some think that the original brewers came from Tanba, and that from this region they moved with the season to other regions. That it is a name that referred to a group of artisans who worked away from home every year to take on the whole brewing process, from washing barrels and rice to the eventual brewing of the end product.



Two Additional First Edition States from Nishinomiya Shoin

At least three states of the first edition of this print exist. This collection's print bears a slightly different Nishinomiya publisher's seal than usually seen in the bottom right of the print.   
 
 
Note that the print on the right carries the series number 第二輯 beneath the series title in the right margin. 
Usually only the series title is present in the right margin on the first edition Nishomiya Shoin issued prints.

About the Series "Occupations of Shōwa Japan 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" 

Note: 
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 Shōwa Japan in Pictures (Shōwa shokugyō e-zukishi), also translated as Occupations of the Shōwa Era in Pictures and 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 Shōwa Japan 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 Shōwa Japan 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 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  #973
 Title/Description  酒杜氏 [saketoji] - Sake Distillers [number 19]
 Series  Occupations of Shōwa Japan in Pictures, Series 2 (also seen translated as "Compendium of Occupations in the Shōwa Era" and "Japanese Vocations in Pictures")
Shōwa shokugyō e-zukushi 昭和職業繪盡 (also seen written as 昭和職業絵尽し and
昭和職業) dainishū (第輯) 
 Artist 
 Wada Sanzō (1883-1967)
 Signature 
 三造 Sanzō
 Seal
Sanzō
 Publication Date  1939-1941
 Publisher
Nishinomiya Shoin 
西宮 書院
 Edition  first edition
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  excellent - wrinkling in top corners caused by removal from original folio; slight toning
 Genre  shin hanga
 Miscellaneous  originally released by Nishinomiya Shoin as print number 19 in series 2
 Format  dai-oban
 H x W Paper  11 1/4 x 14 7/8 in. (28.6 x 37.8 cm) 
 H x W Image  10 3/4 x 14 1/2 in. (27.3 x 36.8 cm)
 Collections This Print  Himeji City Museum of Art Ⅲ-184-19 (dated "1939~1940年")
 Reference Literature  Memories of Shōwa: Impressions of Working Life by Wada Sanzō, Maureen de Vries and Daphne van der Molen, Nihon no hanga, 2021
last revision:
8/9/2021
6/7/2021
12/5/2018
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