Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)

Print: Mikake wa koi-i tonda iku hitoda (みかけはこわいがとんだいい人だ) "Looks Fierce But is Really Nice" from the series Men Join to Form a Man - a modern copy

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Dates: created,1847 - 1848
Dimensions: 10.0 in,15.0 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: woodblock print

Signed: Ichyūsai Kuniyoshi giga
Publisher: Izutsuya Bunsuke
(Marks 184 - seal 17-016)
Censor seals: Hama and Kinugasa

Related links: National Gallery of Victoria - original version; The University of Vienna - original version; Ritsumeikan University - poor black and white image; Muzeum Sztuki i Techniki Japońskiej Manggha, Krakow;

Physical description:

Iwakiri and Newland, in their catalogue Kuniyoshi: Japanese master of imagined worlds on page 92, say of an original copy of this print: "This work draws from the tale surrounding the historical figure Asahina Saburō Yoshihide and his travels in foreign lands. The pattern on the robe - a circle enclosing three horizontal lines - underscores his identity. [Click on one of the links above to see the original print.] The topknot shape visible on the collar is like the chikaragami (paper used in sumo rituals) associated with the character of Asahina in kabuki dramatisations. His head and hand are constructed from the torsos of the diverse foreigners he would have encountered during his journeys; his hair is made up of two black men who hold a piece of black coral to form his topknot.

The text at the top roughly translates as follows:

A large crowd of people got together, hugged one another and finally managed to create a good person. At any rate, in human affairs, if people do not imagine themselves in the situation of other people, then they will never make a good person.
The original cherry-wood key-block (or line-block) of this print has survived. After its release, Fujiokaya sold the block to Mikawaya Tetsugorō. It was later purchased by Nagoya publisher Izutsuya Bunsuke who inserted his publisher's trademark on a newly carved plug of wood."


The transliteration of the text is provided by the University of Vienna: Ōzei no hito ga yotte takatte touto(u) ii hito o koshiraeta tokaku hito no koto wa hito ni shite morawaneba ii hito ni wa naranu


Illustrated in:

1) a small black and white reproduction in "L'ukiyo-e come arte «di uso e consumo»" by Manuela Capriati, Il Giappone, Vol. 41 (2001), fig. 24, p. 69.

2) a full-page color reproduction in A Special Exhibition of Japanese Woodblock Prints: Ukiyo-e from Tadashi Goino's Collections (日本浮世繪兿術特展: 五井野正先生収藏展), National Museum of History [Taipei], 1999, 98. Part of the text reads: "This type of print is called a yose-e, a "gather-together-picture", made by putting together assorted picture-elements and creating something different.... It is a masterpiece in Kuniyoshi's kyo-ga (comic) expressions, and it was his way of hitting back at the adverse policies of the Tempo-reforms that forbade the publication of actor pictures."