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Mushirobata Gunma no inanaki


 Japanese Color Woodblock-Printed Book

Mushirobata gunma no inanaki

(Strawmat Flags and Neighing Horses of Gunma)

by Utagawa Kunimasa IV, 1881

Rokkasen Kyōga no Suminuri

Third and Last Book, Volume 1
第一編 下
IHL Cat. #2138
First Book, Volume 1
第一編 上
IHL Cat. #2137

About This Book

The first and last book of volume 1 of the 3 volume set (a total of 9 books) comprising the illustrated novel Mushirobata gunma no inanaki (which has been translated as "Strawmat Flags and Neighing Horses of Gunma") by the gesaku writer Saikaen Ryūkō (1857-1902)1 and illustrated by Utagawa Kunimasa IV (1848-1920), under his gō (art name) Baidō Kunimasa.

This 1881 work of popular fiction was based on the 1871 uprising by some 150 villages, in what was then Nakano and Gunma prefectures, against high taxes, rising prices and the collapse of the local silk trade, attributed to a local official. The three day uprising saw wide-spread destruction in the prefectural capital, attacks on property of rich commoners and the murder of two government officials. Government troops were quickly sent in to restore order and twenty-eight participants were executed and many more imprisoned.2 

Mushirobata in the title is a reference to the strawmat banners used to display demands during peasant uprisings and inanaki is a reference to the common grounds used for horse fodder, which were being taxed by the new government. The novel opens with the hero Monya Mashio 真塩紋弥 presenting the peasant demands in the form of a letter of grievance (歎願書) to the Chief Cabinet Secretary of the prefecture, as Mashio's wife looks on along with Gunma's chief of police.

1 Saikaen Ryūkō 彩霞園柳香 also went by the name Saiga Ryūkō 雑賀柳香.
2 For a detailed account of the Nakano Uprising see Even the Gods Rebel: The Peasants of Takaino and the 1871 Nakano Uprising in Japan, Seluk Esenbel, The Association for Asian Studies: Ann Arbor, 1998.

The three books comprising volume 1
This collection is missing the middle book 中 of the volume

First and Last Books of Volume 3 (all pages)
note: pages are displayed from right to left in Japanese book order

Volume 1, Book 1
click on any image to enlarge
page 2
from right to left, the characters
紋弥妻 (Monya Mashio’s wife)
森群馬太書記官 (Chief Cabinet Secretary Mori Gunma)
頑丈総代真塩紋弥 (Stalwart representative Monya Mashio)
石川群馬四等警部 Ishikawa Gunma Police Inspector
page 1, Introduction
title, date, author's name
蓆簱群馬嘶 第一編 

第一編 上
The signpost on the right bears the name of the village of Minowa 箕輪村 along with the name of the publisher, Kinshōdō 金松堂 

page 5
page 4
page 3

page 8

page 7
page 6


page 10

page 9

Volume 1, Book 3
click on any image to enlarge

page 2
page 1, introduction
第一編 下

  page 5

  page 4

 page 3

page 8
page 7
page 6


page 10
page 9

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #2137 and #2138
 Title (Description) Mushirobata Gunma no inanaki 蓆簱群馬嘶  初編 上 下
 Strawmat Flags and Neighing Horses of Gunma, first volume, first and third books
 (also seen translated as The Neighing of the Horse Herd)
 Artist Utagawa Kunimasa IV (1848-1920)
artist's and author's names as they appear on the last page, page 10, of the third book

left: Baidō Kunimasa ga 梅堂国政画 (drawn by Baidō Kunimasa)   
right: Saikaen Ryūkō cho 彩霞園柳香著 (written by Saikaen Ryūkō)
 Publication Date April 1881 (明治14年4月)
 Publisher Tsujiokaya Bunsuke (Kinshōdō) 辻岡屋文助 金松堂 

seal and publishing firm name and owner name appearing on inside of rear cover of last book in volume 1
publisher's "bun" 文 seal followed by:
書肆地本 問屋 金松堂  辻岡屋文助
(publisher's Tokyo address appears to the right of their name)
 [Marks: pub. ref. 548; seal not shown]
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent
 Genre e-hon 
 H x W Paper
 6 15/16 x 4 1/2 in. (17.6 x 11.4 cm) dimensions of each page
 Collections This Print
 Berkeley Library, University of California East Asian Rare A516.3; National Institute for Japanese Literature 早稲田大学図書館・柳田文庫/A 530; Waseda University Library Call No. 文庫11 A0531
latest revision:
8/31/2021 created