Home‎ > ‎Artists‎ > ‎Mizuno Toshikata (1866-1908)‎ > ‎

Sano Tsuneyo from the series Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition

Sanjō Sanetomi from the series Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Sano Tsuneyo

from the series Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition

by Mizuno Toshikata, 1890

New Year Charm in the Shape of a Love Letter: Woman of the Genroku Era from the series Thirty-six Elegant Selections

IHL Cat. #1400

About This Print

This unnumbered print1 in the series Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition portrays the thirteenth-century dispossessed and impoverished daimyō Sano Genzaemon Tsuneyo burning his cherished bonsai to provide warmth to a an itinerant priest, who turns out to be the regent Hōjō Tokiyori (1226-1263). 

The artist Mizuno Toshikata contributed 16 prints to this series.

1 Numbering of the prints was haphazard during the production of the series. While this print is unnumbered, the title for this print is shown in the 48th position listed in the Table of Contents for this series (reference Table of Contents from the series Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition). 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 Sano Tsuneyo and the Regent Hōgō Tokiyori
Sources: "Yōkyoku ni arawaretarinri shisō (Japanese Ethical Thought in the Noh Plays of the MuromachiPeriod)", Watsuji Tetsuro, translated by DavidA Dilworth, appearing in Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 24, No. 4 (1969), p.467-498.

The scene depicted in this print is based upon the first scenein the Noh play Hachi no ki (ThePotted Trees), by the playwright Zeami (1363-1443).1  It tells the tale of an ordinary looking priest,who is actually the regent Hōjō Tokiyori (1226-1263) on a pilgrimage, seeking shelterfrom a snowstorm in a poor hut inhabited by Sano Tsuneyo and his wife.  As her husband is absentwhen the priest arrives, Tsneyo's wife declines the priest’s request.  When her husband returns he also tells thepriest they must decline, as they are too poor to help even a guestin distress.  However, after realizingthat karma has brought the priest to him, Tsuneyo relents and welcomes thepriest, offering food and lodging.  Withno firewood to burn to protect against the cold, Tsuneyo cuts up his cherished miniature bonsai, which despitehis poverty he has not sold, and starts a fire.

After being pressed by the priest, Tsuneyo gives his nameand reveals his past and how his lands were stolen by his clansmen.  He tells how he wanted to lodge a complaintwith the regent, but could not as the regent was absent from Kamakura.  He goes on to speak of his loyalty to theregent and that he is holding on to his old tattered armor, rusted sword andemaciated horse to rush to aid his regent and die defending him should it benecessary.

In the second scene of the play, Tokiyori has returned toKamakura and called for all his daimyō and warriors to assemble.  Tokiyori has called his retainers together totest Tsuneyo’s pledge of support.  WhenTokiyori finds Tsuneyo “clothed in tattered breast-protector, holding a rustysword, and himself leading his lean and weak horse,” he praises him and returnshis lands to him, giving him three manors to replace his cherished bonsai.

In the article from which the above summary of the play istaken the author states that many of Zeami’s work express “the value of theimperial dignity and justice.”  Hegoes on to state that the play’s aim is “not praise of the way of the warrior,but of one who represses his selfish desire, reverences the Dharma, and doesnot change his constancy in upholding the Way even though in the depths ofunjust oppression.”

1 The basis of this play is the tale told in the Taiheiki of the regent Hōjō Tokiyori on pilgrimage stopping at the home of a nun to seek shelter, who then burns her bonsai to provide warmth.

Transcription of Scroll
Source: with thanks to Yajifun http://yajifun.tumblr.com/


“佐野常世ハ鎌倉に仕へたる人なり故有て下野佐野に住し貧困に日を送り忠節愈鉄石の如く且て最明寺時頼脚僧となりて諸國を巡回し民の疾苦を問ふ計らず佐野家に泊し夫妻の忠節を感じ且常世が愛玩の梅松桜の三樹を伐りて寒凛を凌ぐの資料に充て以て貴人の待遇を厚くす後時頼鎌倉に歸し召して諸侯に列し佐野の荘にて焚ける三木に擬し加賀梅田越中櫻井上野松井田下野黒髪の荘を賜り益々其忠節を全ふせしとぞ 以壽美 記”

click on image to enlarge

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 Sano Tsuneyo 佐野常世
 Series“Instructive Models of Lofty Ambition” (Kyodo risshiki 教導立志基) [note: series title 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 of Emulation”' or “Examples of Self-made Leaders” or "Paragons of instruction and success"] 
 Artist Mizuno Toshikata (1866-1908)
 Seal of the artist 応斎 年方 sealed Ōsai and Toshikata as shown above
 Publication Date December 1890 明治廿三年 十一月
 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 明治廿三年 
[notification delivered, Meiji 23rd year 11th month]
assigned number within series: blank
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 good - almost full-size; minor marks; five small binding holes along left edge
 Genre ukiyo-e; rishki-e; kyōiku nishiki-e
 Miscellaneous position 18 in the Table of Contents for the series
 Format vertical oban
 H x W Paper 
 14 9/16 x 9 15/16 in. (37 x 25.2 cm) 
 H x W Image
 14 5/16 x 9 11/16 in. (36.4 x 24.6 cm)
 12 7/16 x 8 1/16 in. (31.6 x 20.5 cm) area inside brocade border
 Collections This Print
 Tokyo Metropolitan Library 280-K19; Tokyo Digital Museum (Edo-Tokyo Museum) 96200379