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Yoshitoshi (1839 - 1892)

Priest Raigo of Mii TempleTransformed by Wicked Thoughts into a Rat

Series: 36 Ghosts and Strange Apparitions
Medium: Woodblock Print
Date: 1891
Size (H x W): 14 x 9.5 (inches)
Publisher: Sasaki Toyokichi
Seals: Sokatei
Signature: Yoshitoshi sha
Conditon: Very good color and impression, light surface soiling, trimmed bottom edge, three color cartouche, sharp woodgrain, embellished with oxidation.

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The priest, Raigo, helped the Emperor's wife to conceive a son.  When the Emperor would not reward him, Raigo starved himself to death.  His spirit returned as a thousand rats to infest the Emperor's sacred books.

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. 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 nature. 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.