Home‎ > ‎Artists‎ > ‎Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927)‎ > ‎

Nōgakuzue, Saigyō Zakura


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Saigyō Zakura 西行桜

(Saigyō and the Cherry Tree)

from the series Nōgakuzue

by Tsukioka Kōgyo, 1900

Nōgakuzue, Tomoakira

IHL Cat. #1748

About This Print

One of 261 prints from the series Nōgakuzue (Illustrations of Noh).  It depicts a scene from the play Miidera, often attributed to the playwright Zeami Motokiyo (1363-1443).1  For two other depictions of this play by the artist see Nōga taikan, Miidera and Nōgaku hyakuban, Miidera.

1 According to the The Ohtsuki Noh Theatre Foundation website "recent scholarship suggest a later author."

The Play - Miidera (The Miidera Temple) by Zeami

Source: A Guide to No, P.G. O'Neill, Hinoki Shoten, 1929, p. 108.


Waki - the poet-priest Saigyō
Kyōgen - a servant
Waki-tsure - three or four peole flower-viewing
Shite - the spirit of an old charry tree

An old cherry tree beside the Saigyō's retreat comes into full bloom, but just when the poet resolves to enjoy the beauty of it quietly on his own, a group of people come there on a flower-viewing trip. Saigyō composes a poem in which he blames the cherry itself for the noisy intrusion, but while he is resting beneath the tree later, the spirit of the cherry comes to him and denies that it is to blame.  It then dances to express the delight to be found in the spring blossom.  The dream then fades, and Saigyō awakes.

Source: The Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010, p. 112.

Saigyō (1116-1190), one of the greatest poets in the Japanese waka  tradition, wrote a poem conveying the sentiments that formed the idea for the narrative in this play.  It is included in Saigyō's colection Sankashū (Poems of a Mountain Dwelling) (no. 87):

 "Flowers! Do let's look!" -
 and on they come,
 amateurs in droves.
 Ah, lovely blossoms,
 this is all your fault!

Transcription of Summary of Play (as it appears in the right margin)
click on image to enlarge

「西行上人 京都西山ニ住みける頃 桜の精あらはれて上人の歌か事ニつき回答せし物語を作れり雲玉集ニ「西行西山ニ山居の時花ニ人あつまりければ 花見んとむれつゝ人の来るのみぞ あたら桜のとがニはありける かくよみし暮つかた花のもとニ白髪の老人あらはれて罪科はいかいあらしの山桜ながむる人のわがみやま木を と返して失せニけり 花の精なるべし」とあるに本づきて作れるなるべし太夫面 皺尉の類」

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1748
 Title Saigyō Zakura 西行桜 (Saigyō and the Cherry Tree)
 Series Nōgakuzue 能樂圖繪 (Illustrations of Noh)
 Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927)
Kōgyo 耕 漁
 Seal Red letter seal in an irregular oval shape: 辯 [Ben] as shown above
Printed on March 1, 1900 / Issued (trimmed on this print)
明治三十月一日印刷 / 
 Edition unknown
 Publisher Matsuki Heikichi (Daikokuya Heikichi 大黒屋平) [Marks: pub. ref. 029]
 Address: 日本橋区吉川町二番地
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - minor toning; diagonal bend in paper upper left corner and lower right corner; green ink marking "6" in upper left margin corner; not backed; two pieces hinging tape top corners verso
 Genre ukiyo-e; 能楽図絵 Nōgaku zue [Noh play picture]
 Miscellaneous silver metallic highlights on inset and burnishing on hat; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston notes: Part II, Section I (kōhen, jō)
 Format ōban 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 13/16 x 13 1/16 in. (22.4 x 33.2 cm) area within printed black border
 Collections This Print The British Museum 1949,0409,0.12 (1899); Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University arcUP0840 (March 5, 1900); Art Institute Chicago 1939.2258.157 (1898); University of Pittsburgh 20091209-kogyo-0343 (March 5, 1890); Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery 2009.7.7 (March 1, 1900)
 Reference LiteratureThe Beauty of Silence: Nō and Nature Prints by Tsukioka Kōgyo (1869-1927), Robert Schaap & J. Thomas Rimer, Hotei Publishing, 2010, p. 112.