Producing Uji Tea in Yamashiro Province, figure 2 from the series Dai Nippon Bussan Zue (Products of Greater Japan)


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Producing Uji Tea in Yamashiro Province, figure 2

from the series Dai Nippon Bussan Zue

(Products of Greater Japan)

by Utagawa Hiroshige III, 1877

Digging Kudzu [Pueraria] Root in Yamato Province from the series Dai Nippon Bussan Zue (Products of Greater Japan)

IHL Cat. #1481

About This Print

One of 118 prints in the series Dai Nippon Bussan Zue (Products of Greater Japan)issued in August 1877 to coincide with the opening of Japan’s first National Industrial Exposition (Naikoku Kangyō Hakurankai) held in Tokyo’s Ueno Park, depicting women and men sorting, sifting, steaming, drying, and packaging tea in Uji in Yamashiro Province. The Uji district was famed for its tea plantations and its high-quality tea which was unequaled in Japan.  Historically, "the Uji powdered-tea industry was so important that it received bakufu protection, and farmers had to sell their tea through designated channels."1

Uji farmers excelled "in the processing of green tea,especially as a result of innovations developed in the 1730’s.  Instead of kettle-firing, they steamed theleaves and then rolled rubbed them over a hearth.  This process produced a flavorful tea highlyprized in central markets."2  

This superior tea "became especially importantwith the opening of the ports in 1859, when tea became one of the country’sleading export items.  From 1859 to 1867tea exports increased over eighteen-fold,with more than 7 million pounds beingexported in 1867 alone."3  

The German Professor of Geography and East Asia traveler, Johannes Justus Rein, described both the sorting and steaming process seen in the print in his 1899 book The Industries of Japan, as follows:4

 Sifting and Sorting the Tea

[To sift the tea] a sieve is suspended breast-high by a rope from the ceiling, so that it can be moved with ease in every direction, as well as in a circle.  The finer stuff falls through on a pile, and there remain the more equally rolled and twisted leaves.  Lastly, this tea, designed for exportation, is spread out on a table and carefully gone over again by girls, who pick out all remaining impurities…

The Steaming Process

A series of immured iron kettles (or pans) are half filled with water, which is brought to boiling by fires of charcoal beneath them. The mouth of each kettle is closed by a sieve, that fits tight into it. This is about 45 cm. in diameter, and on its bottom several handfuls (about half-pound) of fresh tea-leaves are spread out. The sieve is closed above with a cover. For a short time, generally about half a minute, the steam is permitted to act upon the leaves, long enough to produce the characteristic odour of tea. The sieve with its contents is then taken off from the pans. The leaves are shaken together and then spread out over straw mats or tables. The damp leaves, of course, have lost their stiffness. They are soft and easily bent in all directions, showing everywhere traces of the oil which comes from them. Being spread out and fanned, they are quickly cooled, and then subjected to another operation, of especial importance.

Packing the Tea

detail lower left - wooden chest packed with tea ready for export and labeled "Greater Japan Uji, Yamashiro"
日本 山城宇治

All these processes being at length over, the product is packed in new wooden chests, each of which holds a half picul (30 kilo), and is sent to one of treaty-ports for sale.

Also see IHL Cat. #1495 Picking Uji Tea in Yamashiro Province, figure 1.
Yamashiro Province (山城国 Yamashiro no kuni) was a province of Japan, located in Kinai. It overlaps the southern part of modern Kyoto Prefecture on Honshū. Aliases include Jōshū (城州), the rare Sanshū (山州), and Yōshū (雍州). It is classified as an upper province in the Engishiki. Yamashiro Province included Kyoto itself, as in 794 AD Yamashiro became the seat of the imperial court, and, during the Muromachi Period, was the seat of the Ashikaga Shogunate as well. The capital remained in Yamashiro until its de facto move to Tokyo in the 1870s.5

Multiple Editions (Variant Printings)

At least three variant printings (editions) were made of this series.  Each variant printing uses a different colored cartouche containing the series' name, either red, green or rainbow-colored.  [In addition, a blue cartouche occasionally appeared.]   Different colored borders were also used and variances in the use of colors and shading are present in the three editions.

Transcription of Scroll

1  Japan's Protoindustrial Elite: The Economic Foundations of the Gōnō, Edward E Prat, Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Asia Center, 1999. p. 52.
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid. p. 60-61.
4 The Industries of Japan: Together with an Account of its Agriculture, Forestry, Arts and Commerce, J. J. Rein, A. C. Armstrong and Son, 1889, p. 116-118.
5 Wikipedia

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Producing Uji Tea in Yamashiro Province, figure 2
 山城国宇治茶製之図 二   Yamashiro no kuni Uji cha sei no zu ni
 Dai Nippon Bussan Zue 大日本物産図会 (Products of Greater Japan)
 Artist Utagawa Hiroshige III (1842–1894)
Andō Tokubei - artist's family name appearing in the bottom of the cartouche in the left margin (partially trimmed on this print)Full cartouche reads 画工 大鋸町四番地 安藤徳兵エ [gakō Ōga machi yon banchi Andō Tokubei]
 Seal none
 Publication Date 1877 (Meiji 10) 
 Ōkura Magobei 大倉孫兵衛 (Kin'eido; 1843-1921) [Marks: pub. ref. 627]
appearing in right margin (trimmed from this print)
Full cartouche reads 出版人 日本橋通一丁目十九番地   大倉孫兵衛 (Publisher, Nihobashi-dōri Itchōme 19-banchi, Ōkura Magobei)
 Impression good
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - vertical centerfold with some paper separation reinforced by tape on verso; small loss to margin corners
 Genre nishiki-e; kaika-e
 Format chuban
 H x W Paper 
 6 13/16 x 9 5/16 in. (17.3 x 23.7 cm)
 H x W Image
 6 3/8 x 9 1/8 in.  (16.2 x 23.2 cm)

 Collections This Print
 Waseda University Library Archives 01_04265_0001