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Woman Cuts Off Lover's Nose, No. 892 Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shinbun

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Woman Cuts Off Lover's Nose, 

No. 892 Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shinbun

by Utagawa Yoshiiku, 1874

Business Trip to Saga, Hizen Province, No. 913 Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shinbun

IHL Cat. #420

About This Print

At the top of this "news nishiki-e" is a banner held aloft by two cherubs containing the name of the sponsoring newspaper, the Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shinbun 東京日々新聞.   This print depicts a married woman with children cutting off her lover's nose with a razor when he talks of ending their affair.1

For a summary of the brief life of nishiki-e shinbun (newspaper color woodblock prints) see the article Nishiki-e shinbun and Newspapers in Meiji Japan.

1 website of William Wetherall www.nishikie.com

Story Translation (partial) by William Wetherall

Source: Nishiki-e Shinbun website of William Wetherall http://www.nishikie.com/stories/TNS-0892_cuts_off_lovers_nose.html
There was a woman named Osetsu, the daughter of Takahashi Rokubee, a farmer in Hisakuni village in Chichibu district of Bushu [Musashi province] under the jurisdiction of Kumagaya prefecture. She married into a certain family in Hannya village in the same district and there were two children. Osetsu in name only, she was a pillar of water with no setsudo [moderation]. And there was a man with whom she chatted in secret . . . . Mortified by talk of separation, she took a razor and cut his nose from the root and sliced it off. . . . Osetsu, in addition to being jailed for sixty days, was made to eat a fine. As for the man, he was calmed with seventy lashes, but . . . .

Japanese Transcription of Text

Source: University of Tokyo website http://www.lib.iii.u-tokyo.ac.jp/collection/ono_sn/22.html#N053


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.


UTAGAWA Yoshiiku (歌川芳幾, 1833-1904)

Japanese; Meiji period, 1874

Woman Cuts Off Lover’s Nose, No. 892 of The TokyoDay-by-Day News (Tōkyō Nichi NichiShinbun)

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

The Lavenberg Collection of Japanese Prints, IHL.0401

Translation of text on print:

In the village of Kuna in thedistrict of Chichibu in Bushū, administered by Kumagaya Prefecture, the farmerTakahashi Rokubei had a daughter named Osetsu. She was married to a certainperson in the village of Hannya in the same district, with whom she had twochildren. But she was Setsu [modest] in name only, lacking all modesty andchastity. Perhaps her nature partook of water, for she kept in addition asecret paramour with whom she made watertight vows. Something seems to haveoccurred to the man one day, however, and he said he was ashamed, and wonderedhow long they could go on inviting the world’s censure like this. From now onwe should make a clean break of it and escape the world’s censure, he said.Osetsu felt the cold wind of autumn blow through her heart, chilling it, and inher frustration she snatched up a razor and lopped off the man’s nose at thebase. This raised a considerable commotion. In the end the matter was taken upby the district court at Ōmiya. Osetsu was sent to prison for sixty days andmade to pay a fine, while the man’s case was settled with seventy strokes ofthe cane. Nevertheless it is said that he much regretted his nose.

(Glynne Walley, Associate Professor of East Asian Languages& Literatures)

Print Details

 IHL Catalog
 Title or Description Woman Cuts Off Lover's Nose (八百九十二号 No. 892)
 Newspaper Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shinbun 東京日々新聞
 Artist  Utagawa Yoshiiku (1833-1904)
Keisai Yoshiiku (恵斎芳幾)
 Seal  芳幾 Yoshiiku (see above)
 Writer of Text
 Publication Date
December 29, 1874 戌十二
Gusokuya Kahei 具足屋嘉兵衛, [Marks: pub. ref. 085; seal ref. 24-031]

seal reading:
top: 人形町 Ningyōchō
bottom: 具足屋 Gusokuya
Horiei ホリエイ
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition fair- large brown stain across 2/3 of banner at top, top margin trimmed, 1/2 cut in top margin
 Genre ukiyo-e; nishiki-e shinbun
 Format vertical oban
 H x W Paper
 13 3/4 x 9 5/8 in. (34.9 x 24.4 cm)

 Collections This Print
 Waseda University Library 10 08059 0027; Tokyo Metropolitan Library 008-C5-9; ARC Object No.国会109-03-048; The University of Tokyo Digital Archives Ono Hideo Collection N053
last revision: