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Subject:Help with reading insciptions on woodblock print
Posted By: Andreas Sj÷berg Fri, Jan 27, 2012 IP:


I have this japanese woodblock print that I need some help with reading the inscriptions.

I think I have managed to identify the artist signature and the censor seals:
Artist signature:K˘ch˘r˘ Toyokuni ga (Kunisada - Toyokuni III)
Censor seals: Kinugasa - Murata (1851 - 1853)

However I need help with the inscriptions in the red and yellow box in the upper right corner, presumably the names of the actors in the Kabuki play, and the inscription in the black rectangle just left of the artist signature (maybe name of publisher?)

Thanks in advance!
Andreas Sj÷berg

Subject:Re: Help with reading insciptions on woodblock print
Posted By: geo. Tue, Jan 31, 2012

The main character here is the priest Seigen. Google that name and you'll find a synopsis of the play "Sakura Hime Azuma Bunsh˘".

Subject:Re: Help with reading insciptions on woodblock print
Posted By: Stan Mon, Jan 30, 2012


If no one else helps, here is what I do...

As a non-Japanese speaker, I use 2 pages of the Kunisada Project to find the actor, play, and role. First, I look up the actor's name in the "Kabuki Actors Portrayed by Kunisada" page (see link below).

Then, knowing the actor and date of the print (in your case, 1851 - 53), I try to figure out the play(s) and, thus, deduce the role from the "Kabuki Plays Illustrated by Kunisada" page (

Also, look through the prints on the Kunisada Project. If you can find your print (it is multiple pages (and actors)), the information you want will be provided.

With luck, someone else will provide better information.


PS. If no one else replies, and I have time, I'll try to find it.

URL Title :Kabuki Actors Portrayed by Kunisada

Subject:Re: Help with reading insciptions on woodblock print
Posted By: Horst Graebner Tue, Feb 14, 2012

the print is the right sheet of a kabuki diptych.
The yellow and red cartouches bears the role names: Kiyomizu Seigen (yellow) acted by Ichikawa Danjūrō VIII and Shimobe Yodohira (red) played by Arashi Rikan III. The play is ĺKoi (goro mo) Karigane zomeĺ performed at the Kawarazaki theatre in 1/1852; publisher is Kagaya Yasubei, censor seals by Kinugasa and Murata.
Horst Graebner from the Kunisada Project | Associations | Articles | Exhibitions | Galleries |