Published in 1895 from the series “Long Live Japan: One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs” (First Part: Sino-Japanese War Series), this is print #44 from the series.
The series title Hyakusen hyakushō, literally One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs, is a pun on the expression “One Hundred Battles, One Hundred Victories” (both pronounced “Hyakusen hyakushō”).1 The series was issued in three parts and presented parodies of the enemy, 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 prints, was issued between September 1894 and August 1895. The second part of the series titled Magic Lantern Society: One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs, consisting of twelve prints, was issued between November 1895 and December 1896. 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, consisting of eight-six prints, used the same title as the first part Long Live Japan: One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs. 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 西森武城 (1861-1913)2, using the pseudonym Koppi Dōjin (“Master Skin and Bones”). The series title 百撰百笑 (Hyakusen hyakushō) appears in the cartouche in the upper right of the print. The print’s title and the pseudonym Koppi Dōjin 骨皮道人 appear in the right most column within each text box at the top of the print.
The Woodblock Print
This oban-sized woodblock is in excellent condition; very fine color, no discolorations within the image, correct intact margins and a clean verso.
About the Artist
Kobayashi Kiyochika (小林 清親, September 10, 1847 – November 28, 1915) was a Japanese ukiyo-e artist of the Meiji period. Kiyochika is best known for his prints of scenes around Tokyo which reflect the transformations of modernity. He has been described as ‘the last important ukiyo-e master and the first noteworthy print artist of modern Japan… [or, perhaps] an anachronistic survival from an earlier age, a minor hero whose best efforts to adapt ukiyo-e to the new world of Meiji Japan were not quite enough’. The son of a government official, Kiyochika was heavily influenced by Western art, which he studied under Charles Wirgman. He also based a lot of his work on Western etchings, lithographs, and photographs which became widely available in Japan in the Meiji period. Kiyochika also studied Japanese art under the great artists Kawanabe Kyōsai and Shibata Zeshin.
His woodblock prints stand apart from those of the earlier Edo period, incorporating not only Western styles but also Western subjects, as he depicted the introduction of such things as horse-drawn carriages, clock towers, and railroads to Tokyo. These show considerable influence from the landscapes of Hokusai and the work of Utagawa Kuniyoshi, but the Western influence is also unquestionable; these are much darker images on the whole, and share many features with Western lithographs and etchings of the time.These were produced primarily from 1876 to 1881; Kiyochika would continue to publish ukiyo-e prints for the rest of his life, but also worked extensively in illustrations and sketches for newspapers, magazines, and books. He also produced a number of prints depicting scenes from the Sino-Japanese War and Russo-Japanese War, collaborating with caption writer Koppi Dojin, penname of Nishimori Takeki (1861-1913), to contribute a number of illustrations to the propaganda series Nihon banzai hyakusen hyakushō (‘Long live Japan: 100 victories, 100 laughs’).