Sakai Kyūzō Hurling a Spear

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Sakai Kyūzō Hurling a Spear

Alternate Title: Sakai Kyūzō
Series: Selection of One Hundred Warriors in Battle
Japan, 1868, 10th month
Prints; woodblocks
Color woodblock print
Image: 14 × 9 9/16 in. (35.56 × 24.29 cm) Sheet: 14 3/8 × 9 9/16 in. (36.51 × 24.29 cm)
Herbert R. Cole Collection (M.84.31.215)
Not currently on public view

Curator Notes

Here, Yoshitoshi shows the fierceness of the boy warrior Sakai Kyūzō, a retainer for the first great unifier of Japan after the Warring states era, Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582) in the mid-16th century....
Here, Yoshitoshi shows the fierceness of the boy warrior Sakai Kyūzō, a retainer for the first great unifier of Japan after the Warring states era, Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582) in the mid-16th century. Sakai's blue-shaded eyes and bloody mouth illustrate his youthful, violent rage that would propel him toward an honorable death early in his life. Sakai, the son of samurai Sakai Masahisa, engaged in his first battle at the young age of 13 and was killed two years later, in 1568, while defending his master, Nobunaga, in his march to Kyoto. Such an example of indefatigable loyalty would have made Sakai a compelling subject to Yoshitoshi's audience.
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About The Era

The Meiji Restoration (1868) ended the Tokugawa shogunate (military bureaucracy) and the reign of the samurai, but the popularity of samurai legend and lore remained....
The Meiji Restoration (1868) ended the Tokugawa shogunate (military bureaucracy) and the reign of the samurai, but the popularity of samurai legend and lore remained. While Meiji administrators began developing a new style of government based on European models, Japanese artists learned techniques of Western art, employing them to a greater or lesser extent. Warriors and the ideals they represented remained a major subject of Japanese prints, especially as Tokugawa censorship laws were lifted and artists were free to chronicle current events. Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892) embraced journalistic veracity; an eyewitness to several major battles, his prints after 1868 are striking in their realism and unflinching depictions of war time. Yoshitoshi and other artists illustrated the last stand of the samurai, a war fought on the southern island of Kyushū, creating bloody and often romantic images of a martial culture in peril. The heroes of these prints were not the imperial Japanese army, who triumphed in the end, but the samurai rebels, who fought fiercely to maintain the power and ideals of their clans.
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Bibliography