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Publisher: Nishimuraya Yohachi (西村屋与八)

Alternate names:
Eijudō (firm name - 永寿堂)
Hibino (family name - 日比野)
Nishiyo (seal name - 西与)

Lifetime: circa 1751 - 1869

Related links: Achenbach Foundation - example of a Hokusai print published by this house;

Biography:

Edo/Tokyo print publisher (Marks #391).

Nishimuraya Yohachi was the foremost publisher of Eishi; Toyokuni, Kuniyasu and Kunisada designed actor prints for them, the latter including views of the insides of theatres.

Source: Marks: Publishers of Japanese Woodblock Prints: A Compendium: Hotei Publishing, Leiden, 2010

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"Nishimuraya Yohachi is among the most important publishers in the history of prints and may be the publisher with the biggest output over time. Starting in 1751, the earliest designs he put on the market are actor portraits by Kiyomitsu, followed by the works of Harunobu, Bunchō, Shunshō, Koryūsai, and Kiyonaga. In short, since his beginning, all important and popular artists worked for him.

Nishimuraya was the foremost publisher of Eishi's works liked the series "Manzai Dancers of the Green Houses at the Niwaka Festival" (Seirō manzai Niwaka), dated to c. 1791. At the same time Nishimuraya also issued beauties by other artists such as Utamaro, for example in the series "Treasury of Loyal Retainers" (Chūshingura)"

This is quoted from Japanese Woodblock Prints: Artists, Publishers and Masterworks 1680-1900 (p. 194) by Andreas Marks as are all of those that follow.

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Artists published by this house include Bunchō, Eiri, Eishi, Eishō, Eizan, Harunobu, Hiroshige, Hokkei, Hokuju, as both Shunrō and Hokusai, Kiyomine, Kiyomitsu, Kiyomitsu II, Kiyonaga, Kiyoshige, Koryūsai, Kuninao, Kunisada, Kuniyasu, Kuniyoshi, Sadahide, Shigemasa, Shikimaro, Shunchō, Shun'ei, Shungyō, Shunman, Shunshō, Shuntei, Shunzan, Toyoharu, Toyohiro, Toyokuni I, Toyokuni II, Toyoshige, Utamaro and Utamaro II.

[Artists published by this house represented in the Lyon Collection are highlighted in bold type.]

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In The Willow in Autumn: Ryūtei Tanehiko, 1783-1842The Willow in Autumn: Ryūtei Tanehiko, 1783-1842 on page 43-44 the author describes an encounter between Tanehiko and Nishimuraya. Tanehiko recorded that on January 29, 1810 that he went to visit his friend Hokusai. Then he, Hokusai and Hokushū went over to see Nishimura for a brainstorming session regarding a new book Tanehiko was thinking of publishing. "Hokusai may have been responsible for introducing Tanehiko to one of the leading publishers of the day, Nishimura (also Nishimuraya) Yohachi II, the the propietor of the Eijudō. Bakin provides a telling profiles of this shrewd businessman:

This Nishimuraya Yohachi was the adopted heir of the original Yohachi and, as I have explained... the natural second son of the vernacular-book dealer Urokogataya Magobei, who went out of business during the Tenmei period [1781-1789]. He was no fool in his conduct, and had a sharp mind for commercial affairs. It was his opinion, and often repeated, that it was the publishers who were responsible for the celebrity of authors and artists in the world at large, and that publishers were, so to speak, printing advertising handbills on their behalf. And so it was up to the author or the artist to petition him for the favor of publication; he himself would never request favors of them.
Nishimura Yohachi's firm, the Eijudō, owed much of its initial prosperity owed much of its initial prosperity to its adept exploitation of the new medium of nishiki-e polychrome printing in the 1770s. While the rival firm of Tsutaya Jūzaburō/ Kōshodō launched Utamaro (1750-1806) and Sharaku (fl. 1794-1795), the Eijudo riposted with Kiyonaga (1735-1815), , Toyokuni, and Eishi (1756-1829)."

Ibid., p. 45.

"In or shortly before 1812, the Eijudō publishing house under Nishimuraya issued an unusual triptych print by the Wunderkind of the ukiyo-e world, Utagawa Kunisada. Unlike the majority of theatrical prints, which depicted actors on stage or at least in roles and costume, this triptych explored the unseen backstage world of the Nakamura-za theater. In Kunisada's rendition, the backstage has been split open in cross section, and in the various floors and suites, exposed like rooms in a dollhouse, we see some 40 celebrated actors, engaged in all manner of activities: rehearsing, dozing, chatting, signing autographs for admirers. The figures in this crowd of casual celebrities... are each identified in small side inscriptions. So popular was this intimate panorama that, in the spring of 1813, Nishimuraya published two more gakuya no zu (greenroom pictures): a more elaborate view of the Nakamura-za and a backstage view of its principal competitor, the Ichimura-za. A view of the perennial underdog, the Morita-za, completed the trilogy in the autumn."

Ibid., p. 74.

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Sarah Thompson in her essay 'The Blues of the Japanese Landscape: Hokusai's Prints of Mount Fuji' noted the role of the publisher. "The Fuji series is remarkable not only for its masterful compositions but for its extensive use of shades of blue. Even the basic outlines of the forms, usually printed in black ink, are rendered in dark blue in the earliest editions of the first thirty-six of the series of forty-six prints. (Ten extra designs were added to the planned series, probably at the request of the publisher, Nishimuraya Yohachi, because the prints were selling so well.)"