One Hundred Aspects of the Moon (1885-1892)
by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi
This series is generally regarded today as
greatest achievment. Many of the prints are masterpieces as good as anything
ever done by any ukiyo-e artist.
Unusually for Japanese print series, which mostly do not contain the number
of scenes stated in the title, this series actually does comprise 100 prints,
along with a pair of content pages done by the calligrapher Sogaku after
Yoshitoshi's death, a title page in large characters, and an introduction
page by Yoshitoshi's friend, the calligrapher Keika.
It is also the easiest of Yoshitoshi's many prints and series to find today.
The subjects range over Japanese history and mythology, as well as some
scenes from Japanese life (both contemporary, and historical) and Chinese
More About the Series
Although superficially it may appear just like other Japanese woodblock
prints, in many ways it contains radical changes, many (but not all) a
result of contact with the West.
- Yoshitoshi pushed his blockcarvers to great heights of technical
achievment than anyone before him - and made full use of it. This is most
clearly shown in the way the series makes heavy use of rough brushstrokes -
which are very expertly reproduced in the woodblock medium, a thing never
seen before in Japanese woodblock prints.
- The convention in woodblock printing up until this had been to show
faces in three-quarter view - but in this series he shows people freely,
from all angles.
- The faces in it are portrayed very realistically, unlike earlier artists
- although even Toyokuni was more realistic than his predecessors, such as
- Western perspective techniques are also thoroughly used - although
again, this is only obvious by comparison with earlier artists.
In addition, the series makes heavy use of a number of existing extraordinary
techniques, in particular
or 'gauffrage', which is used in almost every print, in particular in the
title block, as well as many clothes. Also seen on some prints are
which was used to produce intricate patterns on black areas of some prints.
In doing this series, Yoshitoshi was in an almost single-handed struggle
against time and technology. As he worked on it, Japan was adopting the mass
reproduction methods of the West, like photography and lithography.
Nonetheless, in a Japan that was turning away from its own past, he almost
single-handedly managed to push the traditional Japanese woodblock print to a
new level, before it effectively died with him.
One Hundred Aspects of the Moon - Complete (Thumbnails)
For reference purposes, for those on slow connections, below are links to a
complete set of thumbnails of the "One Hundred Aspects of the Moon" series,
given ten per page. For those on faster connections,
is a page with all 100 thumbnails on a single page.
All 100 thumbnails on a single page
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© Copyright 1999-2013 by J. Noel Chiappa
Last updated: 24/May/2013