Tsutaya Jūzaburō (蔦屋重三郎) (publisher 1774 – 1852)

Kōshodō (firm name - 耕書堂)
Tsutajū (seal name - 蔦重)
Kitagawa Jūzaburō (family name - 喜多川重三郎)


Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Hokusai example
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Sharaku example
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Eishi example
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Shikō example
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Yasukiyo example
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Shunman example
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Kiyonaga example
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Shunchō example
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Toyokuni I example
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Hidemaro example
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Kuniyasu example
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Kunimasa example
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - 1823-25 Kunisada example
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Masayoshi example
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Toyokuni II example
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Shun'ei example
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Kiyomasa example
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Utamaro II example
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Koryūsai example


In 1834 Kyokutei Bakin wrote: "Tsutaya Jūzaburō was admired by many talented persons, and his publications were appreciated by the Edoites. Business went well and within 10 years, his publishing house became one of the outstanding jihon don'ya. Many men were known to bankrupt themselves through their decadent lifestyles in Yoshiwara and it was rare that someone from Yoshiwara made a fortune."

"Tsutaya Jūzaburō was born, raised, and started his publishing business in Yoshiwara, the pleasure quarter in the city of Edo..." In 1783 he left there and moved his publishing house to the Tōriabura-machi 通油町, well known as a competitive publishing environment.

In 1773 Tsutajū opened his first bookstore near the entrance to the Yoshiwara. At first he sold guides to the district naming the courtesans. These were published by Urokogataya (鱗形屋). In time that publisher was unable to supply updated lists, so Tsutajū created his own. His first book, the Yūjo hyōbanki 遊女評判記, from 1774-5, added commentaries on the individual women. In time, he was able to assemble a group of authors, too. In her master's thesis, Hisako Kobayashi, points out that it was probably the strength and popularity of Tsutajū's personality that probably made him such a success. She notes that on his gravestone it says: "Tsutajū’s spirt was high, and that he was generous, magnanimous, and greatly respected by others."


Edo print publisher (Marks 555). Artists published by this house include Chōki, Eisen, Eishi, Eizan, Fusanobu, Harumachi, Hidemaro, Hiroshige, Hokuba, as both Sori & Hokusai, Kiyomasa, Kiyomitsu, Kiyonaga, Koryūsai, Kunimaru, as both Kunisada & Toyokuni III, Kunimasa, Kuniyasu, Kuniyoshi, Masanobu, Masayoshi, Sharaku, Shigemasa, Shikō, Shunchō, Shun'ei, Shunman, Shunshō, Suzuki Rinshō, Tōrin III, Toyokuni I, Toyokuni II, Tsukimaro, Utamaro and Yasukiyo.

[Artists in the Lyon Collection who were published by this house have their names highlighted in bold type.]


Laurence Binyon wrote in Japanese Colour Prints on page 70: "The Mirror of Rival Beauties of the Green Houses was published when Tsuta-jū, as Tsutaya Jūsaburō was popularly called, was a small bookseller near the great entrance gate of the New Yoshiwara. As this remarkable man was destined to play a leading part in the fortunes of both Ukiyo-ye and Literature till death overtook him in 1797 at the early age of forty-eight, it is fitting that a brief account of his career should find place here. His birth took place at Yedo in 1750. His real name was Maruyama Kari (may be also pronounced Karamaru), the first of which he changed to Ki-ta-gawa. He was a man of great enterprise and no mean scholar; and possessed in a marked degree the gift of recognizing genius. Thus it came about that he gathered around his humble abode young men of talent, who for one reason or another had fallen on evil days, and who were willing to work for him alone in return for food, raiment, and lodging. Chief amongst these were Bakin, Shokusanjin, Kyōden, and Toyoaki — afterwards Utamaro; all of whom but for his insight and encouragement would probably have been lost to Literature and Art.

He it was, too, who first published the works of Chōki, and who was the sole publisher of Sharaku's designs.

As a writer and humorous versifier he called himself Tsuta no Karamaru, which latter is occasionally found, modified to Karamaro, imprinted in seal form on some of his publications ; as is also his dō-gō of Kōshodō. In the 9th month of Temmei 3, he removed to Tōri Abura-chō, where he had purchased the commodious premises and godowns of the old firm of Maruya Kohei ; and from that time forward he imprinted on his publications his trade-mark of an ivy leaf surmounted by a triple peak. After his death, the firm was carried on by his head clerk during the minority of his heir but, though it lasted till the middle of the 19th century at a new address, it gradually sank into a comparatively insignificant position."


"The stars of Edo period culture, ukiyo-e artists Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806), Toshusai Sharaku, the comic author Santo Kyoden (1761-1816) and the kyoka comic poetry author Ota Nanpo(1749-1823), flourished in the city of Edo during the latter half of the 18th century. The savvy mastermind behind all these celebrities was Tsutaya Juzaburo (1750-1797), the greatest avant-garde producer, creator and publisher of Edo culture. Tsutaya Juzaburo― the sole publisher and distributor of the Yoshiwara saiken, the popular guidebook to the Yoshiwara pleasure district;, publisher of sumptuously illustrated kyoka comic poetry books that combined kyoka poetry with ukiyo-e prints; publisher of the master comic author Kyoden with his biting satire of contemporary conditions; the genius behind the half-length portraits of beauties that allowed Utamaro’s talent to shine forth, and the “discoverer” of the enigmatic print artist Sharaku. These and other accomplishments reveal Tsutaya’s leading role in trendsetting and creativity in Edo period Japan.

Tsutaya was a superb businessman who solidified his position as a top publisher by, on the one hand, strategically establishing his income base through such sure-selling works as the Yoshiwara saiken and textbooks, and on the other hand, by establishing his shop’s brand name through his astute use of the popularity of bestselling kyoka poets and satirists. And yet, his list of accomplishments would not be complete without considering his “discovery” of the as yet unknown talents of Utamaro, Sharaku, Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), Jippensha Ikku (1765-1831) and Kyokutei Bakin (1767-1848).

Tsutaya’s publication of sumptuous illustrated books, ukiyo-e works and comic works that satirized the Kansei Reforms brought the ire of the powerful figures of the day down upon his head, and he was fined half his fortune in 1791. Despite this setback he continued on, and his willful publication of half-length beauty prints by Utamaro plus Sharaku’s actor prints brought continuing delight and amazement to the audiences of the day."

This information is quoted directly from a Suntory Museum of Art web page.


Tsutaya Jūzaburō's publisher's seal was an ivy leaf prominently shown below the three peaks of Mt. Fuji.