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The Heroine Osan in The Almanac Maker's Tale from Woodblock Print Supplements to the Complete Works of Chikamatsu

Kikuchi Keigetsu (1879-1955)

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

The Heroine Osan in The Almanac Maker's Tale

from Woodblock Print Supplements to the

Complete Works of Chikamatsu 

by  Nishiyama Suishō, 1922-1923


IHL Cat. #203

About This Print

One of 18 prints published from 1922 to 1923 as part of the celebration of the two-hundredth anniversary of the death of Chikamatsu Manzaemon (1623-1724), perhaps the greatest dramatist in the history of the Japanese theater. Each design illustrates a scene or character from one of Chikamatsu’s famous works.  For more details on this series see Woodblock Print Supplements to the Complete Works of Chikamatsu.

The Story of The Heroine Osan

While Osan’s husband, the almanac maker, was absent in Edo, the maidservant, Tama, acted as an intermediary to arrange a love affair between her mistress and the clerk, Moemon. Osan became pregnant and when the result of her infidelity could no longer be concealed she fled to Tamba with Moemon.  The fugitives were soon discovered, brought back to Kyoto and executed at Awataguchi, together with the maid.

In Chikamatsu's play, first performed in 1715, Osan and her lover are saved at the end of the play by the intercession of a powerful priest.  In the first act Osan, realizing that her husband has been visiting the maid Tama at night, decides that she will teach him a lesson.  She changes places with the maid and prepares to upbraid her unfaithful husband when he joins her in bed.  Meanwhile the clerk, Mohei, who is under obligation to the maid and who knows that she is in love with him, steals to her bedroom, intending finally to gratify her desires.  He is, instead, received by Osan, who, believing that it is her husband, responds warmly to his advances.  

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #203
 Title or Description The Herioine Osan in The Almanac-Maker’s Tale
 "Daikyōji mukashi-goyomi" no Osan 「大経師昔暦」のおさん
 Series Woodblock Print Supplements to the Complete Works of Chikamatsu
 Dai Chikamatsu zenshu furoku mokuhan 大近松全集 付録木版
 Okada Saburosuke (1869-1939)
unread signature
 Seal none
 Publication Date between 1922-1923
 Edition likely first edition, but the number of editions issued is unknown
 Publisher  Dai Chikamatsu zenshū kankōkai 大近松全集刊行会 (the Complete Work of Chikamatsu Publishing Association)
 Carver Yamagishi Kazue 1893-1996
 Printer Nishimura Kumakichi
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - spot of foxing on nose and several spots on lower arm and numerous foxing spots verso; minor wrinkling to upper left hand margin and top right margin.
 Genre shin hanga (new prints)
 Format dai-oban
 H x W Paper 17 3/4 x 11 in. (45 x 28 cm)
 H x W Image 15 3/8 x 7 7/8 in. (39 x 20 cm)
 Collections This Print Art Gallery of Greater Victoria 2006.007.007; The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University 201-0228
 Reference LiteratureThe Female Image – 20th Century Prints of Japanese Beauties, Amy Reigle Newland and Hamanaka Shingi, Hotei Publishing, 2000, p. 106, pl. 137; Shin Hanga, The New Print Movement of Japan, Barry Till, Pomegranate, 2007, p. 92.