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Nakamura Utaemon III (中村歌右衛門) as Kan Shōjō (菅丞相) in Sugiwara's Secrets of Calligraphy (Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami - 菅原伝授手習鑑)

Identifier: 1823 Hokushu Utaemon III as Kanshojo

The background of this print uses the itame mokuhan (板目木版) or imitation woodgrain technique. "The printing of a wood grain within a print. A wood plank is soaked in water to open up the grain and is then inked and printed to intentionally reproduce the nature of the wood itself."


The exact date is in the cartouche along the right side. It reads: Bunsei 6, 3rd month - 文政六癸未年三月. 癸未 indicates that it is the 20th year of the 60 year cycle.

The inscription at the top reads 奉納 which translates as 'dedication'.



1) In Ikeda Bunko, Kamigata yakusha-e shūsei (Collected Kamigata Actor Prints), vol. 1, Osaka, 1998, no. 145.

2) In color in Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collections: Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire, Brussels, vol. 9, Kodansha, 1989, #243.

The example in Brussels is printed in certain areas with metallic inks and would be considered a deluxe edition. That example is not as full a sheet as this one, especially on the left side.

The use of a faux wooden support with a frame is reminiscent of a Japanese votive painting.


The text in the upper right of the print reads starting at the first line:




On the left border it reads: 願主 利倉屋新兵衛


There is another copy of this print in the Oita Prefectural Center.

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