Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III) - series and prints

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"The Tokaido" -



last updated:

new information: 02/16/07



Very uncommon Kunisada prints for a Tokaido series from different artists designed in 1863.

Related to this series Ch. van Rappard-Boon writes: " In the second month of 1863 the shogun Iemochi travelled from Edo to Kyoto to pay his respects to the emperor. Afterwards two special Tokaido series were published to commemorate this journey. ... One of the series is titled Tokaido and has prints by twelfe artists and twenty-one publishers. ... Both series contain more than the usual number of stations (55) ..." (L71, page 290).

About "The Tokaido" I read in an older Japanese auction catalogue that the series include 150 prints plus frontispiece, index page and so on.
And than Mr. Luigi Capretti sent me an email in which he wrote that he inherited 160 prints (plus) of the series bound to a book designed by 17 different artists (although the index sheet lists only 13 artists).
All of the prints in Mr. Capretti´s book have wonderful bright and fresh colours and may be first state and so I pleased him to take photos and to allow me to publish them on my site.
With the friendly permission of the owner the complete series is presented to the public for the first time on this site.
The prints in Mr. Capretti´s collection all have full margins but the book has not been separated for taking the photos so not the complete print can be seen on the images. If anybody needs closeup pictures from details Mr. Capretti will send them on request.

In January 2007 Andreas Marks published the results of his investigations on this series in Andon 81 (the semi-annual publication of the Society for Japanese Arts). He found out that three different tables of content were existing for the series, all providing totally different numbers. The first lists 155 prints, the second 162 and a third from a re-printed album in 1865 lists only 55 prints. 16 artists designed the total number of the 162 prints pubilshed by 24 different publishers.

This series is from two vievs remarkable.
First the artistic view: Kunisada here designed croud of peoples in front of a landscape. No other similar desings of him are known to me.
Second a political aspect: The censor laws strictly forbids to show the relationship between the bakufu and the tenno. The fact that so much artists and publishers participated in the production of this series for this special event indicates a political manifestation.
The old system of bakufu stands shortly before his colaps, the society wanted a new organisation. In these times most of Japanese people took oposition against the shogunate´s gouverment which has been replaced by the Tenno-system in 1865.
Kunisada as the head of the Utagawa clan designed 18 of the series prints and all other known artists belongs to the clan (Hiroshige II, Yoshimune, Chikamaro, Yoshimori, Kunitsuna, Yoshitora, ????). The majority of the Utagawa clan seems to have been for the Tenno gouverment.
No other to me known prints from the late Edo period shows a so clear political intention like these.

Please send missing informations and new prints to:

For some more informations see:

The prints will be presented according to the order of Mr. Marks essay:

frontispiece index page  
data part one
data part one / data part two
data part two / data part three

data part three / data part four



data part one / data part two / Data part three

Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III) - series and prints