Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)

Moon of Kazanji

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Yoshitoshi (1839-1892)
Moon of Kazanji
One Hundred Views of the Moon
Woodblock Print
13" x 9"
Very good color and impression, slight vertical crease, fold lower right corner, woodgrain visible, embellished with black on black lacquer and embossing

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Akiyama Buemon
Yoshitoshi no In

About the art

In this print, Yoshitoshi portrays seventeen-year- old Kazan, the sixty-fifth emperor of Japan who ruled from 985 to 987. He was so distressed by the death of his beloved consort that he abdicated the throne and became a priest at Gangyo Temple. This temple has since been renamed in his honor. Yoshitoshi depicts the young emperor on his evening journey to the temple, accompanied by only one retainer. Kazan wears his courtly hat and a luxurious kimono as he stands beside a cryptomeria tree, a royal symbol. 

About the artist

The son of a Tokyo physician, Yoshitoshi Tsukioka (né Kinzaburo Yoshioka) is considered one of the last great masters of ukiyo-e art. As a young boy he showed remarkable talent and began to study under the renowned Kuniyoshi at the age of 12. Yoshitoshi also studied under Yosai and was adopted by the Tsukioka family.


As modernization pushed ahead, Yoshitoshi suffered a nervous breakdown in 1872, living in poverty and ceasing all artistic production. A year later, he resumed working; adopting the artist name Taiso and fulfilling his creative potential. In 1885, he began one of his most acclaimed series, 100 Views of the Moon. In the spring of 1892, he suffered his final mental breakdown and was committed to the Sugamo Asylum. On the 9th of June 1892, he died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 53.


Yoshitoshi’s prints are known for their eerie and imaginative component. He worked in a Japan undergoing rapid change, straddling the domains of the old, feudal systems and the new, modern world. His considerable imagination and originality imbued his prints with a sensitivity and honesty rarely seen in ukiyo-e of this time period. From ghost stories to folktales, graphic violence to the gentle glow of the moon, Yoshitoshi not only offers compositional and technical brilliance, but also unfettered passion.

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