Matsuura Sayohime was a princess who appears in ancient history and is said to have become a model for Benzaiten (Divinity of the Reasoning Faculty, in mythology one of the Shichi-fuku-jin or Seven Gods of Luck, also the Buddhist patron goddess of literature and music, of wealth, and of femininity). Before even learning the story, it’s hard to not be captivated by the image within this woodblock, so the following are the two stories I could find about Matsuura Sayohime:
Princess Sayohime, the daughter of the lord in Karatsu, fell in love with Otomo Satehiko, who came from the capital to fight abroad. When it was time for Sautehiko to go on the road, Princess Sayohime shook the cloth at the top of Mt. Kagami and saw him off. Eventually, Sayohime couldn’t stand the farewell and followed the ships as fare as Kabe Island, where she cried for 7 days and 7 nights and turned into a stone.
Sayohime has another story.
A terrifying snake has begun to appear in a swamp in the area and was sometimes rampaging and eating people. Sayohime went to this area and said she would sacrifice herself to save the people from the snake. The snake grabbed her and dragged her into the swamp, however Sayohime became a stone in the belly of the snake, and the snake sank in the swamp and died.
The Woodblock Print
This oban-sized woodblock is in very fine condition. Stunning color, intact thin margins, no discolorations to the image. It is album-backed. A stunning and rarely seen print.
About the Artist
Adachi Ginkō (1853-1908) was a prominent Japanese printmaker known for his contributions to the art of woodblock printing during the Meiji era. Born in Tokyo, Japan, Ginkō developed his artistic skills under the tutelage of Kawase Bunyō, an influential painter and printmaker of the time. Ginkō’s early training in painting laid a solid foundation for his later work in woodblock prints (Kikuchi, 2017).
Ginkō’s artistic style was influenced by the ukiyo-e tradition, particularly the works of Utagawa Hiroshige. He admired Hiroshige’s ability to capture the beauty of landscapes and cityscapes, and he incorporated similar elements into his own prints. Ginkō’s depictions of nature, including landscapes, flowers, and birds, reflected his deep appreciation for the natural world (Yamaguchi, 2000).
Ginkō’s woodblock prints showcased his mastery of composition, capturing serene scenes with meticulous attention to detail. He skillfully employed a delicate and harmonious color palette, blending subtle shades to create a sense of atmosphere and tranquility (Kikuchi, 2017).
While Ginkō himself did not have any notable students, his work had a lasting impact on the world of woodblock printing. His innovative approach to color and composition inspired future generations of printmakers, including notable artists such as Watanabe Seitei and Terazaki Kōgyō. Ginkō’s artistic achievements helped pave the way for the development of the Shin-Hanga movement, which aimed to revive and innovate the traditional woodblock printmaking technique (Yamaguchi, 2000).
- Kikuchi, S. (2017). Adachi Ginkō and His Woodblock Prints: Meiji Japan’s Preeminent Printmaker. Tokyo: Tokyo Shinbun Shuppan.
- Yamaguchi, K. (2000). Ukiyo-e: An Introduction to Japanese Woodblock Prints. Kodansha International.