Kagoshima Shinbun: Illustration of the Battle of Yamagaguchi


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Kagoshima Shinbun: Illustration of the

Battle of Yamagaguchi

by Adachi Ginkō, 1877

Jitsugetsusei kyōwa seidan

IHL Cat. #1974

About This Print

At least a dozen woodblock triptychs depicting various battles during the Satsuma Rebellion, issued by various publishers using the drawings of various artists, carry a cartouche reading "Kagoshima shinbun" (Kagoshinma Newspaper) accompanied by the title of the battle being depicted and a descriptive scroll.  While an actual newspaper called the Kagoshima shinbun would come into existence in the late 1880s, it had no relationship to these earlier prints and their publishers.

In this print by Adachi, one of several prints of the rebellion he designed, the battle of Yamagaguchi is depicted. The engagement being referenced is most likely the March 12 battle in the Nabeta-Yamaga area, about 30km due north of Kagoshima Castle, as summarized below:

[On March 12] Satsuma troops were defeated by [General] Miura's 3rd Brigade in the Nabeta-Yamaga area [about 30km due north of Kumamoto Castle] and withdrew to the right flank of Saigo's main force. The defensive position was thus extended by an additional five miles to include the district from Torisu to Takaba. The casualties, both killed and wounded, were approximately equal on both sides, each army losing about 4,000 men.1

Identified in the print in the red rectangular cartouches are the following soldiers of the Imperial Army and rebel brigades:
Right sheet: 大元帥 西郷隆盛 [Commander in Chief Saigō Takamori -upper right]・永山矢一郎 [ Nagayama Yachirō, commander of the rebels 2nd battalion]・淵辺高照 [Takateru Fuchibe rebel commander;]・別府新助 [Beppu Shinsuke - close confederate of Saigō]
Center sheet: 辺見十郎太 [Henmi Jūrōta - rebel commander]・逆将前原一格 [Maehara Ikkaku「前原一格 rebel commander」
Left sheet: 野津陸軍少将 [Army Major General Nozu - The Marquis Nozu Michitsura (野津 道貫, 17 December 1840 – 18 October 1908)

1"The Satsuma Rebellion of 1877: From Kagoshima through the Siege of Kumamoto Castle", James H. Buck appearing in Monumenta Nipponica, XXVIII, 4 (Winter 1973)

Transcription of the Print's Scroll

click on image to enlarge

Note: characters in () are the transcriber's clarifications.


大夛鏛 編輯 (おおたじょう)

This installation features more than 30 loans from two remarkably rich local resources, the Lavenberg Collection of Japanese Prints, and the Lee & Mary Jean Michels Collection. It was co-curated by Professors Akiko Walley (History of Art and Architecture) and Glynne Walley (East Asian Languages and Literatures) and JSMA Chief Curator Anne Rose Kitagawa. QR codes on selected labels allow visitors to access translations and explanations of the complex wordplay, imagery, and cultural context of these fascinating objects.


ADACHIGinkō (安達吟光, active 1873-1902)

Japanese;Meiji period, March 26, 1877

Illustration of the Battle of Yamagaguchi fromthe Kagoshima News (Kagoshima ShinbunYamagaguchi sensō no zu)

Ukiyo-e woodblock-printed “brocade newspaper” (shinbun nishiki-e) vertical ōban triptych; ink and color on paper

TheLavenberg Collection of Japanese Prints, IHL.1974

Translation of text on print:

As the Western insurgents made a name for themselves theystood momentarily poised to make good on their rebellion by resisting theGovernment forces. One of their fiercest commanders was no doubt Maehara Issei,a brigand chieftain and traitor to the nation who brought many a disturbance tothe realm. This Issei’s youngest brother was Maehara Ikkaku. In the retreatfrom Hagi, he hid himself, and when the time came he joined the Kagoshimarioters. Wearing a white cloth over one shoulder with his name written on it,he rode at their head, attacking at Yamagaguchi. Perhaps the brigands’ luck hadyet to run out, for he was unharmed even as he galloped around alone amid thevortex of Government soldiers, going back and forth under a rain of bullets. Itwas a ferocious battle – truly Ikkaku may be called a mighty warrior.

ŌtaJō, editor


Maehara Ikkaku is the figure onhorseback in the center of the composition. Hagi, in Yamaguchi Prefecture, wasthe site of a failed samurai rebellion in late 1876, a precursor to the SatsumaRebellion of 1877, of which the fighting at Yamagaguchi described here was aminor part. Despite the rebel heroics depicted in this print, the Governmentforces prevailed here as elsewhere.

(Glynne Walley, AssociateProfessor of East Asian Languages & Literatures)

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Kagoshima Shinbun: Illustration of the Battle of Yamagaguchi
 鹿兒嶋新聞 山鹿口戰之圖 Kagoshima Shinbun: Yamagaguchi sensō no zu
 Artist Adachi Ginkō (active 1874 – 1897)
依頼随 眞匠銀光 画
irai shitagai Shinshō Ginkō ga
 Seal unread artist's seal as shown above
 Publication Date
March 26, 1877 (Meiji 11)
Kobayashi Tsunekichi 小林常吉 [Marks: seal not shown; pub. ref. 259]
Left side of cartouche:
    left column - 出板人 publisher 小林常吉 Kobayashi               Tsunekichi;
    right column - 水谷町四番地 publisher's address reading        Hatchōbori Mizutanichō 4-banchi
Right side of cartouche:
    left column - 画工 artist 安達平七 Adachi Heishichi;
    right column - 堀江町二丁目二番地 artist's address
 not given
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition fair - numerous wormholes throughout
 Genre nishiki-e; sensō-e
價六銭 price 6 sen
 Format vertical oban triptych
 H x W Paper 
 R: 14 5/16 x 9 3/4 in. (34.9 x 23.5 cm) 
 C: 14 3/8 x 9 5/8 in. (36.5 x 24.4 cm)
 L: 14 1/8 x 9 5/8 in. (35.9 x 24.4)
 H x W Image R: 14 1/8 x 9 1/8 in. (34.9 x 23.5 cm) 
 C: 14 1/8 x 9 7/16 in. (34.9 x 24 cm)
 L: 14 1/16 x 9 3/8 in. (35.7 x 23.8 cm)
 Reference Literature 

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