Kunichika: Advertisement for Purveyor of Japanese and Chinese (Diet!) Medicines (Sold)
Artist: Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900)
Title: Japanese and Chinese Medicines Shop, the Beauty Kaneko Kin and Fabric Pattern of Mitsu-kura Bridge Design
Series: Tokyo jiman meibutsu awase 東京自慢名物会 (Pictures of Famous Attractions as Pride of Tokyo)
Fascinating example of an early modern advertisement, including what seems to be a diet medicine. It is interesting to note the addition of a beautiful woman as a marketing ploy to an advertisement that is more than 100 years old. At top we see Japanese and Chinese traditional medicines sold by the shop Choji-do, owned by Yamato Yoshikazu, located near the Mikura Bridge in Kanda. We see two medicine products; one is for slimming (!) and one is for the treatment of gallstones. (Wachú-tan shúkó-san honpo of Yamato Yoshikazu...Mikura-hashi giwa, 1-1 Moto..., Kanda-ku). To the right is the Beauty Kaneko Kin of Shige-matsu of Shin-Nakamura-ya at Reigan-jima by Kunichika. Reigan-jima (present Chúó ward) is located at the mouth of the Sumida River, a location of many wholesale dealers of sake from the Kyoto area. Kin holds a ochoko sake cup. Lower left: Comparison to Dye Design: Mitsu-kura bridge design (mitate moyó: mitsu-kura hashi-zome) by Baiso Kaoru: we seestylized three rivers top and bottom; in between is the bridge with pattern of a window of a kura storehouse with a kanoko patterned net. The Mitsukura Bridge over the Kanda River originally had threee kura storehouses nearby.
The series title is decorated with sakura-só primrose. The sensu folding fan below bears the name, Tsuruga Wakatatsu. As a tiny stamp in red indicates the writing on the fan was by Bira Tatsu, a graphic artist for yose advertisements and fliers. This graphic is called bira-ji, a writing style for bira, advertisements. The style was first created by Eijiró at a dye shop Konya around 1830s, using the writing style on lanterns and of Kabuki advertisement. Out of these graphics the workshops of bira kiyo and kira tatsu had developed to specialize in the advertisement of yose theaters (story tellers performances). Especially bira-tatsu showed good designs. Their purpose was to attract and to fill the yose theater, they tried to fill the space with designed characters and not to leave an empty space in their compositions. Beside they wrote the characters slightly diagonal, raising the right side of a character up, indicating with time that the audience would increase. (With thanks to Ms. Michiko Sato-Grube, who consulted Shuntei Unoka:yose moji tenarai-chó, Graphic-sha, 2020)Condition: Excellent impression and color. Very good condition. Album backing. Beautifully printed, with blindprinting in the white areas.
Dimensions: ôban (35.6 x 24.1 cm)
Signatures: Chiaki, Toyohara Kunichika-hitsu, Baiso Kaoru-an (=designed) accordingly
Publisher: Fukada Kumajiro