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The Farrier, print number 9, from the series Occupations of Shōwa Japan in Pictures, Series 1

Wada Sanzō (1883-1967)
 

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

The Farrier

print number 9 from the series

Occupations of Shōwa Japan in Pictures, Series 1

by Wada Sanzō, 1939-1941

Wada Sanzō (1883-1967)


IHL Cat. #967

About This Print

A horse is prepared for shoeing in this ninth print in the series. According to The Japan Farriery Association, "Modern horseshoeing technique was introduced into Japan in 1873. The government invited a horseshoeing instructor from France to help disseminate the technique."1

Lacking any publisher's mark, this print is likely a 1939-1941 pre-war issue by the original publisher of the series, Nishinomiya Shoin.  (For reference see the two images below which carry the Nishinomiya Shoin seal.) There are multiple states of this print and this collection's print, unlike most other prints in this series, has the series title 昭和職業絵盡 written in the image area on the upper left part of the print, rather than in the right margin.  The number of the print 九 (9), appearing to the right of the series title and below the print's title 蹄鐵工, indicates it is the 9th print released in the first series.

1 website of The Japan Farriery Association http://sosakutei.jrao.ne.jp/english/

two states of the print issued by Nishinomiya Shoin

As described in Memories of Shōwa: Impressions of Working Life by Wada Sanzō, each print was originally released with an explanatory sheet by Wada in Japanese "containing detailed information and personal insights."1 Some of the accompanying commentaries were also translated into English by "Glenn W. Shaw (1881-1961), a writer and teacher who moved to Japan in 1913."2 The following commentary, which did not accompany this collection's print, is copied from Memories of Shōwa, translated by the authors.3

Today all professions pursue efficiency in their method and organisation with extreme care. Although this is frequently caused by an all-consuming supply and demand relationship of contemporary life, in this profession we can still see the continuation of a more relaxed pace.

The history of horseshoes is quite old, and it goes without saying that in the future, horses will likely still be running around. Until horse are no longer used to transport goods, manual crafts like these will continue to exist.

As a counter reaction to the new winds that blow continually in the personal life of the depicted couple, the farrier profession immerses them both in a kind of quiet environment and at other time a languid sense of beauty.

1 Memories of Shōwa: Impressions of Working Life by Wada Sanzō, Maureen de Vries and Daphne van der Molen, Nihon no hanga, 2021, p. 14.
2 ibid. 
3 ibid. p. 24

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  #967
 Title/Description  蹄鐵工 [teitetsukō] - The Farrier, [number 9]
 Series  Occupations of Shōwa Japan in Pictures, Series 1 (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), daiishū (第輯)
 Artist 
 Wada Sanzō (1883-1967)
 Signature 
 三造 Sanzō
 Seal
"San" and "zō" - seals of artist
 Publication Date  1939-1941
 Publisher  no publisher's mark or seal but most likely Nishinomiya Shoin  
 Edition  likely first edition
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  good - minor creasing/wrinkling; stray printers marks bottom margin
 Genre  shin hanga
 Miscellaneous  originally released by Nishinomiya Shoin as print number 9 in series 1
 Format  dai-oban
 H x W Paper  11 7/8 x 15 3/4 in. (30.2 x 40 cm) 
 Collections This Print  Himeji City Museum of Art Ⅲ-183-9 (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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