Making Steamed Flatfish in Wakasa Province from the series Dai Nippon Bussan Zue (Products of Greater Japan)


Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Making Steamed Flatfish in Wakasa Province

from the series Dai Nippon Bussan Zue

(Products of Greater Japan)

by Utagawa Hiroshige III, 1877

Picking Uji Tea in Yamashiro Province, figure 1 from the series Dai Nippon Bussan Zue (Products of Greater Japan)

IHL Cat. #1487

About This Print

One of 118 prints in the series Dai Nippon Bussan Zue (Products of Greater Japan)issued in August 1877 to coincide with the opening of Japan’s first National Industrial Exposition (Naikoku Kangyō Hakurankai) held in Tokyo’s Ueno Park, depicting the steaming and drying of flatfish to make mushi-garei.

Wakasa was famous for the flatfish (karei) caught in their offshore waters which were considered a winter delicacy.  (See this collection's print Fishing for Flatfish in Wakasa Province.) Wakasa flatfish were often steamed in salt water and then dried, as shown in this print, and in the contemporary photo below.    The mushi-garei from Wakasa were considered the best and known to be offered as gifts to the imperial family.

Wakasa Province (若狭国 Wakasa no kuni) was an old province of Japan in the area that is today southern Fukui Prefecture. It is also known as Jakushū (若州) or Reinan (嶺南).  The province's ancient capital was at Obama, which continued to be the main castle town through the Edo period.  Wakasa bordered on Echizen, Ōmi, Tamba, Tango, and Yamashiro Provinces.1

Transcription of Scroll
Source: National Institute of the Humanities
[備考]中判 横 錦絵   画工:歌川広重3 安藤徳兵衛 大鋸町四番地  版元:大倉孫兵衛 日本橋通一丁目十九番地   主題内容:産業・技術 物産絵  若狭  人名その他:蒸鰈 桶 天秤 俎板 延縄 塩  

「取たる鰈を一夜塩水ひたし半熟したる処を砂上におき 莚をおほひ温湿の気にて蒸 のち二枚づゝ尾を糸につなぎすこし乾し 即日西京に出すことおひただし 又小鯛を延縄にて釣り同く塩むしにして出す 塩蒸の品多しと雖も此両種は無類の美味たり」

Translation of Scroll
Source: Picturing Westernization and Modernization: A Woodblock Print Collection from Late 19th Century Japan, Izumi Koide, June 16, 2006, a paper delivered at the WORLD LIBRARY AND INFORMATION CONGRESS: 72ND IFLA GENERAL CONFERENCE AND COUNCIL 20-24 August 2006, Seoul, Korea
Flat-fish are soaked in salted water for a night after beingcaught. Place them on sand when half done, cover themwith straw mats and steam with warm air. Join two eachat the tail by string and dry them. Ship many of them tothe Western capital. Small sea breams caught by longlinefishing are steamed with salt before being shipped off.These flat-fish and small sea breams are the best amongsalt-steamed fish. 

Multiple Editions (Variant Printings)

At least three variant printings (editions) were made of this series.  Each variant printing uses a different colored cartouche for the series' title, either red, green or rainbow-colored.  Different colored borders were also used and variances in the use of colors and shading are present in the three editions.  This print's blue-colored cartouche is the only one I've seen in the series.

1 Wikipedia

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Making Steamed Flatfish in Wakasa Province
 同[若狭]蒸鰈製造之図  Dō [Wakasa] mushi karei seizō no zu
 Dai Nippon Bussan Zue 大日本物産図会 (Products of Greater Japan)
 Artist Utagawa Hiroshige III (1842–1894)
Andō Tokubei - artist's family name appearing in the bottom of the cartouche in the left margin (partially trimmed from this print)
Full cartouche reads 画工 大鋸町四番地 安藤徳兵エ [gakō Ōga machi yon banchi Andō Tokubei]
 Seal none
 Publication Date 1877 (Meiji 10) 
Ōkura Magobei 大倉孫兵衛 (Kin'eido; 1843-1921) [Marks: pub. ref. 627]
publisher's seal appears in right margin (trimmed from this print)
 Impression good
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - vertical centerfold reinforced by tape on verso; minor marks and soiling
 Genre nishiki-e; kaika-e
 Format chuban
 H x W Paper 
 6 3/4 x 9 1/4 in. (17.1 x 23.5 cm)
 H x W Image
 6 3/8 x 9 in.  (16.2 x 22.9 cm)

 Collections This Print
 Waseda University Library Archives 01_04265_0002; National Institutes for the Humanities H-22-1-30-7-26