Title (Original): 老人を拷問する
Title: Rōjin o gōmon suru
Translated title: No.29. Torturing an old man (Degener Japanese Fine Prints. 10.1894)
Also recorded as “Peeling Skin of Human” (Ukiyoe Gallery SHUKADO)
Artist (Original): 小林清親 (1847-1915)
Artist: Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915)
Satire Writer: Nishimori Takeki (1861-1913). Signed “Koppi Dōjin” as a pseudonym
The series title Hyakusen hyakusho, literally "One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs", is a pun on the expression "One Hundred Battles, One Hundred Victories" (both pronounced Hyakusen hyakusho).1 The series was issued in three parts and presented parodies of the enemy, here of the Chinese in the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 and ten years later the Russians in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. The first part of the series titled Long Live Japan: One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs, consisting of fifty oban-sized prints issued between September 1894 and August 1895, and published by Matsuki Heikichi. The second part of the series titled Magic Lantern Society: One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs, consists of twelve prints, was issued between November 1895 and December 1895. Both of these parts parodied (often in a racist manner) the Chinese people, leadership and war effort. The third and last part of the series, consists of eight-six prints, and used the same title as the first part Long Live Japan: One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs and was issued between April 1904 and April 1905. The prints parodied the Russian war effort.
Each print in the series is illustrated with a humorous scene related to the war (the first 2 parts related to the Sino-Japanese War and the third part to the Russo-Japanese War) by the artist Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847-1915) and contains accompanying comments, riddled with wordplay and irony, by the writer/journalist Nishimori Takeki (1861-1913), using the pseudonym Koppi Dojin ("Master Skin and Bones"). The series title Hyakusen hyakusho appears in the cartouche in the upper right of the print.
The print's title and the pseudonym Koppi Dojin appear in the right most column within each text box at the top of the print. The woodblock prints in this series are pure propaganda, and it cannot be denied that from today's point of view some depictions are quite racist.
Kiyochika produced this manga series of political cartoons during the Sino-Japanese war in 1894-1895, when Japan fought with China for control over Korea and won. The title of the series is a pun on the phrase, “One Hundred Battles, One Hundred Victories.”
This unique series is one of Kiyochika’s most unusual works. Drawn in a distinctly comic style, each print is a wildly imaginative illustration filled with unrestrained fantasy and exaggeration. Kiyochika’s satiric depictions poked fun at the Chinese and flaunted the new modernization of Meiji era Japan as superior to the old ways of China. Ironically, these images often paralleled the “anti-Oriental” cartoons that Westerners were producing at the same time.
Henry D. Smith II, KIYOCHIKA – Artist of Meiji Japan. Santa Barbara Museum of Art. 1988: pp.112-13.