Oda Nobunaga and Mito Rekko (Tokugawa Nariaki) from the series Contest of Heroes Then and Now


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Oda Nobunaga and Mito Rekko (Tokugawa Nariaki)

from the series Contest of Heroes Then and Now

by Adachi Ginkō, 1881

IHL Cat. #961

About This Print

From a little seen series of prints pairing heroic figures from recent and past history in imaginary contests.   This print pairs Oda Nobunga 織田信長 (1534-1582), on the right, Japanese military commander in the Azuchi-Momoyama period (c. 1573 to c. 1603) and one of Japan's "Three Great Unifiers," with Mito Rekko 水戸烈公 (1800-1860; also known as Tokugawa Nariaki), on the left, father of the last Tokugawa shogun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu (1837-1913), and a foremost proponent of the anti-Western sonno-jōi movement.

As the sono-jōi movement weakened the Tokugawa shogunate leading to the Meiji Restoration and the end of the shogunate, I imagine the artist is depicting an angry Nobunaga castigating Nariaki for his role in this movement.

Nariaki, in an effort to strengthen Japan against the Western military threat, instituted extensive reforms in his home province of Mito, including rationalization of the taxation system, the hiring of experts in Western learning to advise him on coastal defense and battleship construction, the training of troops in Western military tactics, establishment of a state school system, combining Confucian and Shintō religious institutions, and taxation of Buddhist temples and rich samurai to fund increased military spending.1

1 Japan at War: An Encyclopedia, edited by Louis G. Perez, ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2013, p. 439-440.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Oda Nobunaga 織田信長公 and Mito Rekko (Tokugawa Nariaki) of the Tokugawa Sanke  水戸烈公 徳川三家
 Series Contest of Heroes Then and Now
 Kokon eiyū kiso 古今英雄競
 Artist  Adachi Ginkō (active 1874 – 1897)
ōju Ginkō 需吟光
 Seal  none
 Publication DateNovember 4, 1881 (Meiji 14) as shown below in right section of publisher's cartouche 明治十四年十一月四日 御届
Hirano Matsunosuke 平野松之助
Left cartouche:
left column (name of artist and publisher) - 画工出版兼 (artist and publisher the same) 平野松之助 (Hirano Matsunosuke)
right column (publisher's address) - 東京芝官本町一番地 Tokyo shibamiya honmachi 1 banchi
[Marks: pub. ref. none; seal not shown]

 not given
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 condition fair - not backed; soiling; centerfold; minor offsetting
 Genre ukiyo-e
 Format chuban diptych
 H x W Paper
 9 3/4 x 14 in. (24.8 x 35.6 cm)
 H x W Image 

 Collections This Print