Yoshitoshi’s ghosts


The Flying Demon (1889).

The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness is also the season of ghosts, spooks and spectres, so this post continues the Japanese trend of the past few days with a selection from New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839–1892). The more I look at Yoshitoshi’s print series the more I like them; the draughtsmanship is stunning, while the composition and graphic effects are persistently inventive. The series subjects range through portraits of warriors and generals, gory crime scenes (Twenty-Eight Famous Murders with Verses), A Collection of Desires, and One Hundred Aspects of the Moon. New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts was a later series produced from 1889 to 1892, and is notable as much for its demons as for its aesthetic qualities. Also of note is the frayed edges Yoshitoshi gives to each of the pictures, an effect I’ve not seen before in Japanese prints.


The Killing of a Nue (1890).


Skulls at Furuhara (1890).

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Japanese moons


Autumn Moon At Ishiyama Temple (c. 1834) by Hiroshige.

The moon is a continual feature in Japanese landscape prints, and the following selection is only a small sample of the many beautiful examples that may be found on this print site. See also this site, and Yoshitoshi’s stunning series, One Hundred Aspects of the Moon.


Rising Moon at Nagase (no date) Artist unknown.


Rising Moon at Katase River (1907) by Shiron Kasamatsu.

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The Hell Courtesan


The Enlightenment of Jigoku-dayu (1890) from the series New Forms of Thirty-six Ghosts by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi.

Jigoku-dayu of Takasu was a courtesan adopted by the Zen Priest Ikkyu (1394–1481), who converted her to a religious life and gave her a literary education. She is seated in meditation with a ghostly vision of a procession of the skeletons of a courtesan and her entourage, thus showing her the impermanence of life.

Jigoku-dayu is portrayed here as a high-ranking courtesan. Her white robe is embossed with fine key patterns and her outer robe is decorated with the Goddess of Mercy on the front and at the back with scenes of hell. Her name consists of Jigoku (hell), a term for the lowest form of unlicensed prostitute and dayu (respect) for a courtesan of the highest rank. (via)

See also Junko Mizuno‘s contemporary drawings of Jigoku-dayu.


Jigoku-dayu (date?) by Kawanabe Kyosai.


Jigoku-dayu (another version) by Kawanabe Kyosai.

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