Kiyochika: Boxing Match of Ships

Kobayashi Kiyochika

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Artist: Kobayashi Kiyochika
Title: Boxing Match of Ships
Series: Long Live Japan: One Hundred Victories, One Hundred Laughs (Nihon banzai Hyakusen hyakushô)
Date: 1904

The Japanese Torpedo Boat delivers a knockout to the Russian Man-of-War. Interesting that the Japanese even borrowed a western sport for an analogy of defeating the western enemy. The smaller Japanese figure with a Torpedo boat for a head, lands a debilitating blow on the larger Russian ship. It is interesting to see how cleverly Kiyochika made eyes on the ship, as well as a nose from the radiating blow and a mouth from the opponent’s glove. Here is the full translation from the University of Wien website: "The smash hit of the torpedo ships by Koppi Dōjin 
The Japanese torpedo boats advance relentlessly with such strength towards spotted enemy ships, as if they could rip open mountains and destroy oceans. “Hey, you Russian! If they say that big men are as long as they are dumb then that applies to you! Do you actually believe you are sumo wrestlers with this adopted escape attitude that doesn't suit your persistent boastfulness in the least? Now come on! I don't know if you're a bad loser, but I am equipped with the Japanese yamato spirit, which is unique in this world. And even if your facial expression is the same, there is a great difference to such false and boastful visages like you like between the best and the worst. Ahem!, and if they say that one is good (at shooting down) when one likes it, then that applies to us. Look! We're chasing one torpedo after the other into you, one after the other! Look! Even a Russian ship needs only one torpedo. This time you will go down fast! So what. What happens if we give you a push, will you go down foaming? Well, what is it going to be? Even though you say that your are outstanding, they say: “Even a sparrow turns into a hamaguri shell when diving into the sea.” That means: the circumstances force one to adapt. That's why you should go down to the bottom of the sea and be fed to the society.” Upon that, the enemy ship replies: “In that case we are defeated and will probably soon (die) turn into shijimi shells.” This print deals with the great victory of the Japanese army at the sea battle of Chemulpo, which happened right after the outbreak of the war. In manga-style, it shows how little Japanese torpedo boats are sinking big Russian war ships. In the text, puns, proverbs and jokes are regularly integrated: Thus, the reading of tsuki (to attack; here: to shoot down with a torpedo) is alluded to in homophonic words like “liar” (usotsuki), “facial expression” (tsuratuki) or “moon” (otsuki-sama) among other things. Furthermore, it contains puns like tsukikoso mono no jōsu (the ability to shoot down well) on the proverb sukikoso mono no jōsu (because one likes it one is good at it) and rokan shite ippon (you only need one torpedo for the Russian war ship) on the phrase okan shite (warm up one sake). Finally, the saying “Even a sparrow turns into a hamaguri shell when diving into the sea” is used, meaning that the Russians will also turn into a shell (shijimi), which, ironically, also sounds the same as “a body at its hour of death”.

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition.
Dimensions: ôban
Publisher: Matsuki Heikichi
Signature: Kiyochika  Literature: See Henry Smith’s book, pages 112-113


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