Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Yaji & Kita

This week I'm going to start reading the late Edo-period novel, Hizakurige, or 'A Shank's Mare Tour of the Tokaido' written by Juppensha Ikku between 1802-22.  The one and only translation into English is by Thomas Satchell from 1929.  A very old and obscure Japanese novel in a dusty translation - yawn, you may say, but the more I look into it, the more it sounds like this Laurel & Hardy meets Easy Rider tale is actually a great read.  I'll let you know.  

I came across a reference to the Satchell translation in Tsuneo Tamba's invaluable reference to Hiroshige while researching a print by the artist which turns out to be from one of Hiroshige's two incomplete series of comic views of the Tokaido based on the wanderings and bunglings of Yaji and Kita, the two main characters of the novel.  Here they are above, in my print, beside themselves with fear over a pile of burning trash(?!) (out of view to the left.)

Perhaps not the most incredible designs Hiroshige ever produced, they are still quite rare.  If anyone has other designs from either Shank's Mare series, I'd love to see them posted here.  Add a comment, or send me an email.  More on Yaji and Kita soon...

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