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Iris at Horikiri from the series Famous Views of Tokyo


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Iris at Horikiri

from the series Famous Views of Tokyo

by Kobayashi Kiyochika, 1879

IHL Cat. #346

About This Print

This print appears to have been lacquered, displaying a yellowish discoloration and having a slick feel to it.  I have seen another impression of this print that also appears to have been lacquered.   Urushi-ye is the process whereby a clear lacquer is applied to a print to heighten the color-effect. The lacquer yellows over the years.  An impression of this print with fresh colors is shown below.

This print is from  a loosely constructed series Famous Views of Tokyo (Tokyo meisho) consisting of 93 prints issued from 1876-1881 by two publishers, Matsuki Heikichi and Fukuda Kumajirô.  For additional information on this series see "Early Woodblock Prints: The Series Famous Views of Tokyo (Tokyo meisho) 1876-1881" on the Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915) page.

Tokyo Metropolitan Library

Iris Garden at Horikiri
Source: "Garden at Horikiri, Japan," Anne H. Dyer, p. 32 appearing in House & Garden, Volume B, Jan-June 1903, Henry T. Coates & Co.

 Photo of Horikiri Iris Garden dated 1903
In the little villageof Horikiri situated a few miles out of Tokyo and within easyjinrikisha distance is to be found what is perhaps the oldest and mostfamous Iris garden in the world although it is only one hundred andtwenty years old which is very young for a Japanese garden. To thisgarden, however, and to the founder of it Kodaka Izayemon we owe the Iris as we see it to day.

[O]nehundred and twenty years ago a certain well to do Japanese farmer, whosurely had the soul of a discoverer even if he was only a sort of headgardener in the little flower raising village of Horikiri, in making ajourney to the foot of Fuji brought back a specimen of the Iris growingthere. With this and two other specimens procured from different placeshe formed the nucleus of the garden which was to grow into what

is at present one of the most celebrated gardens in Japan. It was not until late in the Tokugawa period, however, in the time of the second Kodaka, the son of the original founder, that Koda-ka-en, as it was for a long time called came into prominence. Two samurai chanced to visit it, and their reports attracted others, until finally the fame of it reached the ear of the reigning shogun himself who came in person to see it. Since then the tide of visitors has annually increased until it is not only known to all Japanese, but has also become a favorite resort of the foreign tourist.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Iris at Horikiri  堀切花菖蒲 Horikiri hanashobu
 Series Famous Views of Tokyo (Tokyo meisho)
 Artist Kiyochika Kobayashi (1847-1915)
 Signature unsigned
 Seal none
 Publication Date 1879
Fukuda Kumajirō 福田熊次郎
[Marks: pub ref. 071; seal not shown]
 Edition likely original edition
 Impression excellent
 Colors poor
 Condition poor- overall discoloration of lacquer coating; paper thinning and numerous small holes in paper
 Genre ukiyo-e; meisho-e
 Miscellaneous print appears to be coated with a clear lacquer.  Urushi-ye is the process whereby a clear lacquer is applied to heighten the color-effect.  The lacquer yellows over the years.
 Format horizontal oban
 H x W Paper 
 9 1/2 x 14 in. (24.1 x 35.6 cm)
 H x W Image
 8 1/8 x 12 1/2 in. (20.6 x 31.8 cm)
 Collections This Print
 Tokyo Metropolitan Library 0522-C003; National Museum of Japanese History H-22-1-25-3