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Saigō Takamori from the series Kagoshima Competition for Glory


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Saigō Takamori

from the series Kagoshima Competition for Glory

by Utagawa Kunimasa IV, 1877

Rokkasen Kyōga no Suminuri

IHL Cat. #2272

About This Print

Saigō Takamori (1827-1877)
Portraying Saigō Takamori, the leader of the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion. Above the seated Saigō is a white banner reading "Shinsei kotoku" (New Government rich in virtue), a slogan attributed to the Rebellion but likely concocted by the press.  

Saigō was a revered figure to many Japanese.  Physically he was imposing, standing six feet tall and weighing 200 pounds.  He was a key player in the formation of the Meiji government, both as a military leader against the Tokugawa shogunate and as a politician shaping foreign and domestic policies.   After his leaving service with the Meiji government, largely over differences on Japan’s Korea policy returned to his home province of Satsuma. While not actively engaged in politics he remained politically involved through the Shigakkō (private samurai schools), where he was celebrated as the spiritual leader. After a raid on the government arsenal by Shigakkō students, his hand was forced and on February 7, 1877 he announced his decision to “confront the central government.”5  Nine months later the rebellion was over, Saigō was dead and his out-manned and out-gunned rebels decimated. 

It is one of six prints in the series titled Kagoshima eimei kurabe, loosely translated as "Kagoshima Competition for Glory".  Each of the six prints portrays an important rebel figure in the 1877 Satsuma Rebellion, as shown below. See the article Prints of the Satsuma Rebellion on this site for more information on the Rebellion and the prints it spawned.

All Six Prints

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Saigō Takamori 西郷隆盛
 Series Kagoshima Competition for Glory
 鹿児島英名竸 [鹿児島英名競] Kagoshimaeimei kurabe
 Artist Utagawa Kunimasa IV (1848-1920)
 Signature TakenōchiHidehisa 竹内栄久 [the birth name of  Utagawa Kunimasa IV, as shown in the  publisher's cartouche below]
 Seal no seal
 Publication Date 1877 (likely September 1, 1877, based upon date seal present on some prints in the series)
Hasegawa Sakujirō 長谷川作治郎 [Marks: publisher not shown]

left: 版元 [publisher] 
通新石町十二番地 [address] 
福田熊治郎 [Hasegawa Sakujirō]

right: 画工 [artist]
通新石町二十四番地 [address] 
竹内栄久 [Takenōchi Hidehisa, artist's birth name] 
 Impression excellent
 Colors fair - fading and toning
 Condition poor – extensive wrinkling, period backing sheet; paper loss along left margin; bottom right and within image
 Genre ukiyo-erekishi-e
 Format vertical oban triptych
 H x W Paper 
 13 5/8 x 9 1/8 in. (34.6 x 23.2 cm)
 Collections This Print
 Tokyo Metropolitan Library 1594-C8-2
last revision:
4/3/2020 created