News from the Kabuki Theater - #3

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

This print is from an interesting series of inserts that Yoshitoshi designed for the Kabuki Shimpo. I do not have a translation of this one so I am not sure if the woman is a geisha, or some patron of the theatre. She wouldn't be an actor because only men could play women on the kabuki stage. She's looking back over her shoulder as she stands in front of a huge curtain, or sign for the play. The strong red and black colors of the design contrast with the delicate lines of the woman and her simple kimono.


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. 


You can find in-depth information about the Kabuki News publication at:

Date: 1879