Artist: Kitano Tsunetomi (北野恒富)

Print: Umegawa [梅川] from the play Meido no hikyaku ['The Courier of Hell' - 冥途の飛脚]

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Dates: circa 1923,created
Dimensions: 11.5 in,16.0 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print

Seal: Tsunetomi (恒富)

Related links: Waseda University; Honolulu Museum of Arts; Art Institute of Chicago; Freer Sackler Galleries; Rijksmuseum; David Owsley Museum of Art, Ball State University; Centre Céramique de Maastricht;

Physical description:

The tradition of Umegawa in print form goes way back. Chikamatsu wrote a play in 1711 for the puppet theater where a poor young man, Chūbei falls in love with a prostitute name Umegawa. This couple was portrayed in a print by Sharaku as early in 1794.


Printed below the image: 西村熊吉; 山岸主計; et al.

The blocks were carved by Yamagishi Kazue and printed by Nishimura Kumakichi.



1) There is a small black and white illustration of this print in The New Wave: Twentieth-century Japanese Prints in the Robert O. Muller Collection, page 133.

Both the example in Chicago and in Honolulu give the title Umegawa to this print. This is the name of a character in the play Meido no hikyaku [冥土の飛脚 - The Courier from Hell].

2) in black and white in 近代日本美人画展 : 伝統木版画を支えた作家たち Exhibition of Modern Japanese Beauties: Meiji, Taishō, Shōwa, Riccar Art Museum, 1982, n.p., no. 63.

3) in color in The Female Image: 20th century prints of Japanese beauties, Abe Publisher, 2000, #106, p. 86.

in a small black and white reproduction in the "Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago, under 'Gifts and loans', vol. 23, #2, 1929, p. 21 [Misidentified as being by Suge Tateshiko.]