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Nōgakuzue, Oshio


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Oshio 小塩

from the series Nōgakuzue

by Tsukioka Kōgyo, 1899

Nōgakuzue, Ominameshi

IHL Cat. #1645

About This Print

One of 261 prints from the series Nōgakuzue (Illustrations of Noh).  The print depicts the ghost of the poet Narihira at Ōhara viewing the cherry blossoms, in a scene from the play Oshio by the playwright Komparu Zenchiku (1405-c. 1470). 

The Play - Oshio

Source: International Noh Institute - synopsis by Rebecca Teele

A Mangoes with his Companions to Mt. Oshio having heard that the cherry blossoms arein full bloom there. Among the many flower viewers is an Old Man carrying abranch of blossoms. The Men speak with him and are impressed by his elegantexpression of appreciation for the blossoms. He quotes poems by Ariwara noNarihira (825-880) nobleman and courtier, in particular one relating to thevisit to the area by the Empress of the Second Ward, Fujiwara no Koshi, who wassecretly his lover for a time. The poem reads: Ohara ya, Oshio no yama mo, kyo koso wa, kamiyo no koto mo,Omoiizurame and is translated by Helen McCullough in Tales ofIse as: “On this auspicious day, the divinity of Mt. Oshio at Ohara, willsurely remember, what happened long ago, in the Age of the Gods.” The OldMan is, in fact, the spirit of the ‘Man of Old’, the poet Ariwara no Narihirain a transformed state. Later he appears in his true form in a blossomdecorated ox cart and dances, remembering incidents of the past and praisingthe beauty of the cherry blossoms.

Source: The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010, p. 81, cat. 26.

A man (waki) and his two companions (wakizure) view the famous cherry blossoms at Ōhara, also known as Oshio, a hill to the southwest of Kyoto.  They meet an old man (shite), who is obviously a person of elegant taste.  He tells them stories about the place and recites poems written by the famous Heian courtier Ariwara no Narihira when he visited the spot.  In the second part of the play, the old man now reappears as Narihira, riding in a vehicle from which to view the flowers.  He recites some of his poems, dances in the moonlight, and then vanishes at dawn.

In the print, Narihira stands in a flower-viewing vehicle and observes the cherry blossoms.

The square inset in the upper right-hand corner includes part of a famous waka poem on the vicissitudes of love written by Narihira, which the shite delivers:   

        Is not the moon the same?
        The spring
        Not the spring of old?
        Only this body of mine
        Is the same body...

Right Margin Detail (summary of play)

Source: Ritsumeikan Art Research Center

「業平の霊あらはれて我いにしへを語り 詠歌を説く事をを作れり 小しをか花盛を写さん為ニ業平を出だし 業平を出さん為ニ花盛を写して相反射せしむ太夫前は尉 後ハ★者の類」

click on image for detail

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1645
 Title Oshio 小塩
 Series Nōgakuzue 能樂圖繪 (Illustrations of Noh)
 Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927)
 Kōgyo 耕漁 (see image below)
Red letter seal in an irregular rectangular shape: 年久 [Toshihisa]
Printed on October 5, 1899 / Issued on October 10, 1899
Meiji 32nd year, 10th month, 5th day / Meiji 32nd year, 10th month, 10th day
明治三十二年十月五日印刷  仝年仝月十日発行
The ARC database entry for their print arcUP1010 carries the same dates as this collection's print
Other impressions are listed with a date of Meiji 33, but this might be a misreading of the date.
 Edition unknown
Matsuki Heikichi (Daikokuya Heikichi 大黒屋平) [Marks: pub. ref. 029]
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Format oban yoko-e
 H x W Paper 9 1/2 x 14 1/4 in. (24.1 x 36.2 cm)
 H x W Image
 8 7/8 x 13 in. (22.5 x 33 cm) area within printed black border
 Collections This Print University of Pittsburgh Special Collections 20091209-kogyo-0349; Scripps College Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery 2009.7.13; Art Institute Chicago 1939.2258.163; Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University AcNo.arcUP1010 CoGNo.arcUP0840 AlGNo.arcUP0840
 Reference Literature The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010, p. 81, cat. 26