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Ron P. Toby

In Engaging the Other: “Japan and Its Alter-Egos”, 1550-1850 Ronald P. Toby examines new discourses of identity and difference in early modern Japan, a discourse catalyzed by the “Iberian irruption,” the appearance of Portuguese and other new, radical others in the sixteenth century. The encounter with peoples and countries unimagined in earlier discourse provoked an identity crisis, a paradigm shift from a view of the world as comprising only “three countries” ( sangoku), i.e., Japan, China and India, to a world of “myriad countries” ( bankoku) and peoples. In order to understand the new radical alterities, the Japanese were forced to establish new parameters of difference from familiar, proximate others, i.e., China, Korea and Ryukyu. Toby examines their articulation in literature, visual and performing arts, law, and customs.
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Shirakaba and Japanese Modernism

Art Magazines, Artistic Collectives, and the Early Avant-garde

Erin Schoneveld

Shirakaba and Japanese Modernism examines the most significant Japanese art and literary magazine of the early twentieth century, Shirakaba (White Birch, 1910–1923) and its founder, the Shirakaba-ha (White Birch Society). In this volume Erin Schoneveld explores the fluid relationship that existed between different types of modern visual media, exhibition formats, and artistic practices embraced by the Shirakaba-ha (White Birch Society). Schoneveld provides a new comparative framework for understanding how the avant-garde pursuit of individuality during Japan’s Taishō period stood in opposition to state-sponsored modernism and how this played out in the emerging media of art magazines. This book analyzes key moments in modern Japanese art and intellectual history by focusing on the artists most closely affiliated with Shirakaba, including Takamura Kōtarō, Umehara Ryūzaburō, and Kishida Ryūsei, who selectively engaged with and transformed modernist idioms of individualism and self-expression to create a new artistic style that gave visual form to their own subjective reality. Drawing upon archival research that includes numerous articles, images, and exhibitions reviews from Shirakaba, as well as a complete translation of Yanagi Sōetsu’s seminal essay, “The Revolutionary Artist” ( Kakumei no gaka), Schoneveld demonstrates that, contrary to the received narrative that posits Japanese modernism as merely derivative, the debate around modernism among Japan’s early avant-garde was lively, contested, and self-reflexive.
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Karen M. Gerhart

Women, Rites, and Ritual Objects in Premodern Japan, edited by Karen M. Gerhart, is a multidisciplinary examination of rituals featuring women, in which significant attention is paid to objects produced for and utilized in these rites as a lens through which larger cultural concerns, such as gender politics, the female body, and the materiality of the ritual objects, are explored. The ten chapters encounter women, rites, and ritual objects in many new and interactive ways and constitute a pioneering attempt to combine ritual and gendered analysis with the study of objects.
Contributors include: Anna Andreeva, Monica Bethe, Patricia Fister, Sherry Fowler, Karen M. Gerhart, Hank Glassman, Naoko Gunji, Elizabeth Morrissey, Chari Pradel, Barbara Ruch, Elizabeth Self.

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Dancer, Nun, Ghost, Goddess

The Legend of Giō and Hotoke in Japanese Literature, Theater, Visual Arts, and Cultural Heritage

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Roberta Strippoli

Dancer, Nun, Ghost, Goddess explores the story of the dancers Giō and Hotoke, which first appeared in the fourteenth-century narrative Tale of the Heike. The story of the two love rivals is one of loss, female solidarity, and Buddhist salvation. Since its first appearance, it has inspired a stream of fiction, theatrical plays, and visual art works. These heroines have become the subjects of lavishly illustrated hand scrolls, ghosts on the noh stage, and Buddhist and Shinto goddesses. Physical monuments have been built to honor their memories; they are emblems of local pride and centerpieces of shared identity. Two beloved characters in the Japanese literary imagination, Giō and Hotoke are also models that have instructed generations of women on how to survive in a male-dominated world.
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Ut pictura amor

The Reflexive Imagery of Love in Artistic Theory and Practice, 1500-1700

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Edited by Walter Melion, Michael Zell and Joanna Woodall

Ut pictura amor: The Reflexive Imagery of Love in Artistic Theory and Practice, 1500-1700 examines the related themes of lovemaking and image-making in the visual arts of Europe, China, Japan, and Persia. The term ‘reflexive’ is here used to refer to images that invite reflection not only on their form, function, and meaning, but also on their genesis and mode of production. Early modern artists often fashioned reflexive images and effigies of this kind, that appraise love by exploring the lineaments of the pictorial or sculptural image, and complementarily, appraise the pictorial or sculptural image by exploring the nature of love. Hence the book’s epigraph— ut pictura amor—‘as is a picture, so is love’.
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Hilary Chapman and Libby Horner

Yoshijiro Urushibara: A Japanese printmaker in London is a catalogue raisonné of the work of Yoshijiro Urushibara (1889–1953), a Japanese artist and craftsman who lived and worked in London from 1910 to 1940. During his thirty years in Europe, Urushibara produced a considerable number of prints and played a major role in encouraging the production and appreciation of the colour woodcut in the Japanese manner, especially in Britain. Throughout his career Urushibara contributed to cross-cultural interactivity, collaborating with several European artists. His most famous and successful collaboration was with the British artist Frank Brangwyn (1867-1956).
The authors had unique access to the artist’s family archive in Tokyo and recorded and evaluated the extent of Urushibara’s print production. With fully researched catalogue entries, full-colour illustrations, and illuminating biographical and contextual essays, this publication – the first of its kind in the English language - provides a comprehensive account of Urushibara’s life and oeuvre.
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Laura Moretti

In Recasting the Past: An Early Modern Tales of Ise for Children Laura Moretti recreates in image and text the unresearched 1766 picture-book Ise fūryū: Utagaruta no hajimari (The Fashionable Ise: The Origins of Utagaruta). The introduction analyses Utagaruta through a discussion of the textual scholarship relating to chapbooks and kusazōshi. It also contextualizes this work to shed new light on the reception history of the canonical Tales of Ise and to position Utagaruta within the realm of children’s literature. This is followed by the full transcription and translation of Utagaruta, with annotations to each image. Learned and visually rich, Moretti’s study permits the reader to enjoy the inventiveness and beauty of early modern Japanese literature.
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Robert Schaap

Utagawa Kunisada (1786–1865) was one of the most successful Japanese woodblock print designers of his age. With an estimated output of some twenty-five thousand prints during a career spanning almost sixty years Kunisada was a towering figure in the sphere of ukiyo-e. His versatility and inventiveness extended across genres, from the stars of the kabuki stage to the women from the pleasure districts, the world of entertainment and the everyday, as well as landscapes, warriors and literary themes.

Kunisada was greatly respected during his lifetime as a print designer of the Utagawa school and as the head of a successful studio with students, such as Toyohara Kunichika (1835–1900), who would carry the tradition of woodblock prints into the Meiji period (1868–1912). Yet scholars, collectors and connoisseurs in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries dismissed him and many of his contemporaries as ‘decadent’. And in recent decades his achievements have often been overshadowed by his contemporary Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797−1861). Kunisada: imaging drama and beauty offers a fresh perspective on this ukiyo-e master, demonstrating the high calibre of his art with prints, paintings and books sourced from international public and private collections. Although the over one hundred and fifty works in the publication represent only a small part of Kunisada’s vast oeuvre, they serve to convey his skill in capturing and imagining Japanese popular culture of the first half of the nineteenth century.

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Of Brigands and Bravery

Kuniyoshi's Heroes of the Suikoden

Inge Klompmakers

Of brigands and bravery: Kuniyoshi’s heroes of the Suikoden is the first monograph in English on the stunning series of 74 prints illustrating figures from the Suikoden by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), one of the outstanding Japanese woodblock-print masters of the 19th century.

The Suikoden (commonly known in English as The water margin) is the Japanese adaptation of the 14th-century Chinese vernacular novel, the Shui hu zhuan, which recounts the exploits of a group of rebels on Mount Liang (J. Ryösanpaku) under the lead of the brave and righteous Song Jiang. The Suikoden was enormously popular in Japan during the 19th century. It was Kuniyoshi’s initial designs for the single-sheet print series The one hundred and eight heroes of the popular Suikoden (Tsüzoku Suikoden göketsu hyakuhachinin no hitori) - in which the full-length portraits of the heroes are charged with a new sense of dynamism - that spurred a Suikoden craze in Edo (present-day Tokyo).

Of brigands and bravery reproduces the 74 known designs of the series in full colour; each is accompanied by an explanatory text. The publication also offers supplementary information on topics relating specifically to the series such as tattooing: a number of the Suikoden figures are adorned with tattoos and it is thought that Kuniyoshi himself had a passion for this art. In addition, Kuniyoshi’s illustration of a variety of armour and dress types, his at times graphic portrayal of the heroes in battle and his integration of western stylistic devices are testimony to the creative genius behind the Suikoden series.
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Chari Pradel

In this comprehensive study of the Tenjukoku Shūchō Mandara, Chari Pradel provides a new interpretation of this assemblage of embroidered textile fragments associated with Prince Shōtoku (574–622). By analyzing the scant visual evidence in the context of East Asian visual art of the period, the author recreates the subject represented on the seventh century artifact and demonstrates that it was not Buddhist (as previously believed), but associated with the funerary iconography of China that arrived in Japan with immigrants from the Korean peninsula. In addition, by closely investigating the context for the compilation of each of the documents associated with the artifact, Pradel illuminates the history of the embroidery and its changing significance and perception over the centuries.