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Retreat of the Insurgents to the Defensive Position at Hyūga

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Retreat of the Insurgents to the Defensive Position

at Hyūga

by Yamazaki Toshinobu, 1877

IHL Cat. #482

About This Print

One of approximately thirty prints by the artist portraying the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877. In this print Saigō Takamori, the rebellion's leader, is seen in the center panel looking out to the Yatsuhiro Sea where government warships are seen.  When this print was issued in May, the rebels have already suffered a major defeat at battle of Tabaruzaka Hill in northern Kagoshima and are in retreat.  (See the print Illustration of the Navy Landing at Sukuchi Village.)  While the government had offered the rebellious samurai several opportunities to "repent their opposition to the Imperial authority and submit themselves to the same" and be pardoned1, they fought on until their final defeat on September 24 at the Battle of Shiroyama.  (See the print Illustration of the Rebels Being Suppressed at Kagoshima.)

As in many of the prints portraying the Rebellion the white banner carrying the slogan "Shinsei kotoku" (New Government rich in virtue) is prominently featured.  The historian Mark Ravina points out that this slogan never appeared on Saigō's battle pennants, being wholly created by journalists and artists "covering" the rebellion.2

1 The Satsuma rebellion: An Episode of Modern Japanese History, Augustus Henry Mounsey, John Murray, London, 1879, p. 184.
2 The Last Samurai: The Life and Battles of Saigo Takamori, Mark Ravina, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2004, p. 206.

Rebels Identified in Red Cartouches

Left Panel: 池上四郎 Shiro Ikegami*
Center Panel (left to right): 別府新助 Shinsuke Beppu*; 西郷隆盛 Saigō Takamori; 淵辺高照 Takateru Fuchibe;
高城十二  unread
Right Panel (left to right): 永山矢一郎 Nagayama Yachirō; 弟子丸 応助  untranslated;  有馬藤太 Tota Arima;
中島武彦 Takehiko Nakajima

* died with Saigo at the final Battle of Shiroyama

Several Printings
The popularity of the Satsuma Rebellion prints led to many of them going through multiple printings.  This print was also issued with a multi-colored scroll cartouche in the left panel as shown below.

Scroll Detail

The prints inscription, for anyone who cares to translate it.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #482
 Title Retreat of the Insurgents to the Defensive Position at Hyūga
 Hyūga kenchi e bōto hikisagaru no zu [hyūga no kenchi e bōto shirizoku zu]
 Yamazaki Toshinobu (1857-1886)
應需 年信 畫  ōju Toshinobu ga
 Seal none
May 10, 1877 (Meiji 10) 御届 明治十年五月十日
 Publisher Tsujiokaya Bunsuke 辻岡文助

画工 山嵜徳三郎 [artist Yamazaki Tokusaburō] 
浅草駒形三十四番地 [artist's address]

板元 辻岡文助 [publisher Tsujiokaya Bunsuke]
横山町三丁目ニ番地 [publisher's address]   

 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition fair - full-size separate sheets, wrinkling throughout, worm holes
 Genre ukiyo-e; senso-e
 Format vertical oban triptych
 H x W Paper 14 1/2 x 9 1/2 in. (36.8 x 24.1 cm) each sheet
 Collections This Print Waseda University Library chi5 4184; National Diet Library 寄別8-5-1-1
 Reference Literature
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