Shūshiki from the series Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition

Japanese Color Woodblock Print


from the series Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition

by Toyohara Kunichika, 1885

The Englishman Spencer from the series One Hundred Roles of Baikō
IHL Cat. #598

About This Print

Print number 卅七 (37)1 in the series Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition portraying the thirteen year old haiku poet Shūshiki (1669-1725) walking in the rain with a palanquin carrier.  Inside is her father.  It is the only print in the 56 print series designed by Kunichika, most famous for his prints of the kabuki and its actors.

1 Numbering of the prints was haphazard during the production of the series. Print numbers were sometimes inadvertently omitted; some prints in the series were never assigned numbers and a few of the same numbers appear on different prints. 

The Story of Shūshiki

Source: Exploring the Japanese Ways of Life, Shunkichi Akimoto, Tokyo News Service, 1961, p. 31-32.

Shushiki-jo (autumn-color-girl; taken from her name Aki) came to the attention of his Imperial Highness the Lord Abbot of Rinnoji when she wrote a haiku about the cherry blossoms and fastened it to the branch of a tree at the Ueno temple.

“... when Aki (oaki) met her princely patron [the Lord Abbot of Rinnoji], she was accompanied by her father who wanted to see the splendor of Ueno fane [temple] and went disguised as one of her servants escorting her palanquin.

When the audience was over and Aki’s train set out homeward a heavy rainstorm broke.  She was sorry for her poor father who had to go afoot in the drenching rain.  At a turn in the road she ordered the palanquin to stop, allowing her attendants to shelter for a while.  Then she quickly doffed her outer garment and changed her clothing with that of her father, and so sent him home in her palanquin while she walked in the rain like one of her own male escorts.”  “This affectionate act of hers as well as the fact of her haiku having won the admiration of the Lord Abbot of Ueno, made her famous overnight both as a young haiku prodigy and a filial daughter.”

A Haiku by Shūshiki

Source: Women Poets of Japan, Kenneth Rexroth and Ikuko Asumi, New Directions Pub. Corp., 1982, p. 51.

Be careful! Be careful!
Of the cherry tree by the well
You're drunk with sake!

Transcription of Scroll

Source: with thanks to Yajifun
click on image to enlarge
37 Shūshiki 秋色
教導立志基 卅七 秋色 豊原国周 1885年12月26日
Transcript: [scroll text by 
“秋色ハ江戸小網町菓子商の女(むすめ)なり 常に孝心深く十三歳の時 東台(うへの)花見乃際(をり)大般若と名付し櫻を見て「井の端の桜あぶなし酒の酔」と吟ぜしを二品親王の上聞に達し屡(しば/\)殿中へ召る 或日園中を拜見(拝見)させんと父を供にいでたゝせ連行しに歸(帰)る頃 大雨降出けれバ竹輿(かご)を賜る 秋色途中密に父を替り乗せ自ら雨具をまとひ付添て帰りしを后(のち)親王聞玉ひてその至孝に感賞し玉へるとかや 紅雲舎車窓 述”

Variant Printing

About The Series "Kyōdō risshi no motoi"

1. This series is variously translated as "Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition," "Foundations of Learning and Achievement," "Foundation of Instruction and Perseverance," "Self-Made Men Worthy of Emulation," "Paragons of Instruction and Success," "Moral of Success," "Examples of Self-Made Leaders," and "Instruction in the Fundamentals of Success."  The title in Japanese is sometimes seen as "Kyōdō risshiki or "Kyōdō risshi no moto," in addition to the most commonly seen transliteration of "Kyōdō risshi no motoi".
2. For a complete listing of all the prints in the series and additional information please see the article on this site titled Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition.

This series ran between October 1885 and November 1890 and featured a long list of heroes and heroines, from antiquity to contemporary times, who were regarded as standards of moral leadership and self-realization.

Source: Kiyochika Artist of Meiji Japan, Henry D. Smith II, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, 1988, p. 74-75; original research and as footnoted.
This series of 58 prints,1 plus a table of contents sheet (目録), were originally published between October 1885 and November 1890 by the Tokyo publisher Matsuki Heikichi 松木平吉.2  The table of contents sheet issued by the publisher states that "fifty prints make up the complete set (五十番揃)".  Three prints not in the initial release were added over the five year publication period, as were five redesigns of original prints, eventually increasing the total print count to 58.  The seven artists contributing prints were Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915) [20 prints], Mizuno Toshikata (1866-1908) [16 prints], Inoue Tankei (Yasuji) (1864-1889) [13 prints], Taiso (Tsukioka) Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) [5 prints],  Yōshū Chikanobu (1838-1912) [2 prints], Toyohara Kunichika (1835–1900) [1 print], and Hachisuka (Utagawa) Kuniaki II (1835-1888) [1 print].  All the artists, with the exception of Yōshū Chikanobu, are listed in the top scroll of the table of contents sheet.  Various colors (including blue, blue/green, and tan/brown) were used for the decorative border, and in 1902 the series was re-issued by Matsuki without borders.  

Brief texts contained within a scroll-like cartouche appearing on each print provide historical details.  The scroll composer's name is given at the end of the scroll text.  The “lofty ambition” of the title is a Confucian concept, originally from Mencius, meaning “righteous determination that would inspire others.”  The market for the series probably included former samurai, ambitious youth, and conservative intellectuals.

"[W]hen it was completed in 1890 the publisher was singled out for special recognition by the government for having sponsored such noble subject matter."3

1 The Tokyo Metropolitan Library online collection shows 50 prints and a Table of Contents sheet.  The Table of Contents lists the titles of 50 prints.  Smith in Kiyochika Artist of Meiji Japan identified 52 prints.  I have identified 58 prints from this series including five prints (Ikina, Michizane SugiwaraKesa GozenSoga Brothers and Hokiichi Hanawa) that were re-designed and re-printed, likely due to damaged or lost blocks.
2 Robert Schaap notes in Appendix II, p. 166 of Yoshitoshi, Masterpieces from the Ed Freis Collection, Chris Uhlenbeck and Amy Reigle Newland, Hotei Publishing, 2011 that the series originally appeared as newspaper supplements.
3 The World of the Meiji Print: Impressions of a New Civilization, Julia Meech-Pekarik, Weatherhill, 1986, p. 122.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Shūshiki 秋色
 Series“Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition” (Kyodo risshiki 教導立志基) [note: seriestitle also listed as  'Kyodo Risshi no Moto', ‘Kyodo risshi no motoi’,‘Kyōdō risshi ki’ and variously translated as “Moral of success” or“Foundations of learning and achievement” or “Self-made Men Worthy ofEmulation”' or “Examples of Self-made Leaders” or "Paragons of instruction and success"] 
 Artist  Toyohara Kunichika (1835–1900)
 Signature 豊原国周 Toyohara Kunichika
 Seal  Kuni  chika 周 (as shown above beneath signature)
 Publication Date December 26, 1885 明治十八年 月 廿
 Publisher Matsuki Heikichi (松木平吉) proprietor of Daikokuya Heikichi [Marks: seal not shown; pub. ref. 029]

click on image to enlarge
(from right to left)
publishing and printing date: 御届 明治十八年 月 廿 
[notification delivered, Meiji 18th year 12th month 26th day]
assigned number within series: 卅七 [37]
publisher information:     両国吉川町二番地 松木平吉 
[artist and publisher Ryōgoku Yoshikawachō 2-banchi Matsuki Heikichi han]
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent - Japanese album backing paper; light horizontal fold just below center
 Genre ukiyo-e; rishki-e; kyōiku nishiki-e
 Miscellaneous print number 37 (卅七); position 37 in the Table of Contents for the series
 Format vertical oban
 H x W Paper
 14 1/8 x 9 1/8 in. (35.9 x 23.2 cm)
 H x W Image
 12 1/2 x 8 1/4 in. (31.8 x 21 cm) area inside brocade border
 Collections This Print
 Tokyo Metropolitan Library 421-K1; Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University 007-0020; Art Research Center Ritsumeikan University Z0173-375
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