Actor as Musashibō Benkei in Kanjinchō

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

This is from issue #2 of the Kabuki Shimpo. In this image we are behind the actor on the stage. We can read in the translation below, an explanation of the curtain and a welcome to foreigners. This is a really interesting perspective on a performance, and quite comical to see the audience watching from their seats. 

(Translation from http://www.lib.iii.u-tokyo.ac.jp/collection/ono_sn/10.html)

There are rumors in various newspapers, and foreigners send them to Shintomiza. The curtain is made of purple silk and handed over to the inside of the circle of Shochikubai. When is the crest of the wood sorrel (mon) sewn with three colored threads? To the address of the thing, a book sewn with Mr. Morita and Shiroito, Ha city. Since Mr. Kawaman Ansensei was written, there are about four cloths in the width. Below is a remarkable standing of foreigners living in Tokyo. A tent sent from the orchids of Yokohama to other things (things) Haji is a moe yellow ring, and it is a heavenly bird in the middle. From the inside of the ancient patterns on the left and right, Chikuzen-san can be seen. The crest that looks like a oxalis grass is used as a gold thread. Sewing with Iro thread to Mr. Morita, Chairman of Shintomiza (Zaiyokohamaran) in Yokohama. Divide the characters from the inside of the national people horizontally to the left and right. It is a thing that surprises the eyes that have been sewn with white thread. Translation of the letter that came to the curtain, the outline of the letter, the monkey, the 11th year of the Meiji era. In June, we invite foreigners living in Tokyo to the section of the reconstruction of the seat. We have been waiting for you and have been treated well, and we will show you the curtain until the brief report (until the sumpo). A, Zee, S, and Bors, who are right-handed people. Henry, Hong, Siebold. Thomas, Matsukurachi. Written by three people. Makoto Tari is honored with the seat, and is also known as Menboku. Shinto Miza Bawari Ha Book reading day (Hi) Niwaka (Kaha) Change to the first Ha 4th act (Continued) Second The role of Hanshiro (Yoshitsune) will become the family Tachibana in the Kanjinchiyau, which is the middle curtain of the Sadama.


The ”Kabuki Shimpo" 歌舞伎 新報 began publishing in 1879 and ended in 1897. The cost was 3 sen. It contained news, gossip, and information about various plays and actors. The issues included pictures by artists and woodblock printed inserts. Some consider the Kabuki Shimpo as " the ancestor of modern theater magazines" 

Shigetoshi Kawatake stated, "In short, this magazine itself can be said to be a three-dimensional history of the Meiji theater"  the other contents as a whole are also "basic materials indispensable for Meiji theater research”.

Yoshitoshi produced woodblock print inserts for this newspaper, I have only seen about 6 different images in my research. Fellow artist Yoshiiku Ochiai also produced yakuza-e (actor portraits) for the paper. Yoshitoshi’s prints all have the strong red frame that contains the description of the play or event. The rectangular window opens to the scene.

This is similar to Yoshitoshi’s earlier 1875-1876 series of insert prints for the Yamato Newspaper. The theme of those prints was Kinsei Jinbutsu Shi - Chronicles about the People of Today. These usually depicted horrible crimes and other happenings that grabbed the public’s attention. 

Date: 1879