Series: The Meiji period (明治時代, Meiji-jidai) Restoration: 1868 -1912
Category: Women Samurai
Accession Number: DFJN2020PRWS0011
Title (Original): 宮城野と忍の姉妹
Title: Miyagino to shinobu no shimai
Translated Title: Sisters Miyagino and Shinobu
Series: Number 6 from the series, Twenty-four Accomplishments in Imperial Japan (Kökoku nijūshikö)
Artist (Original): 月岡芳年1839-1892
Artist: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi 1839-1892
Medium: Japanese woodblock print (nishiki-e); ink and colour on paper
Signature: Taiso Yoshitoshi
Publisher (Original): 津田源七
Publisher: Tsuda Genshichi (first edition)
Publication Date: 1881/5
Acquisition Date: 23/ 10 / 2020
Country of origin: Japan
Condition: Print color saturation and overall condition is very good. Margins as shown. No tears.
Miyagino and Shinobu, whose farmer father was murdered by the samurai Shiga, swore to avenge his death. In secret they trained themselves in the martial arts. They then went to the local daimyo and challenged Shiga to a duel, killing him in the fight that followed. The image depicts the meeting of Miyagino and Shinobu in the brothel where Miyagino works. After the death of their father, Shinobu went in search of her sister in Edo. Arriving at the brothel, her country dialect is incomprehensible to the courtesans there, except for Miyagino. After questioning Shinobu, Miyagino discovers they are sisters, hears of their father's death, and the two plot revenge.
Miyagino and her sister Shinobu plotting to revenge the death of their father (Keisei Miyagino imōto Shinobu - 傾城宮城野妹しのぶ). From the series '24 Accomplishments in Imperial Japan' (Kōkuku nijūshi kō - 皇國二十四功)
It dates from towards the end of Yoshitoshi's career, when he was about forty-two. It thus dates from slightly before his well-known masterpieces such as his great series "One Hundred Aspects of the Moon" (1885-1892), and "New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts" (often called simply "Thirty-Six Ghosts") (1889-1892).
The texts on the prints are by Ryūtei Tanehiko II; it is not clear whether Tanehiko wrote text to go with Yoshitoshi's illustrations, or if Yoshitoshi produced images to go with Tanehiko's text. The early group (see below) are signed 'Tentendojin'; the later group are signed 'Ryūtei Tanehiko' or 'Ryūtei Tanehiko ki' (柳亭 種彦 記 - 'Written by Ryūtei Tanehiko'). His words are poetic and allusive, and underscore the mood of Yoshitoshi's image.
Publishing commenced in 1881, and the first 16 prints were produced by the end of that year; a long hiatus then ensued, and the remaining 8 were only finally published 6 years later, in 1887. The reason for the delay is not known. When publication resumed, and the entire group was published as a set, some of the prints in the first group were re-issued with different colors.
The series was very popular while Yoshitoshi was alive, and it went through numerous printings. Several different states may be seen of these early printings (all with a red title cartouche); in some (perhaps the earliest, since it was the most work to produce) the text panel has several inclined bokashi stripes across it; in others (perhaps later), a simple band of bokashi at the top and bottom; and in others, no decoration at all. One of the best in series.