Kunichika
Kunichika (1835-1900) was a pupil of Chikanobu and of Kunisada. He chose the name Kunichika which is a combination of the names of his two masters. His favorite subjects were Kabuki actors and historical scenes. Kunichika is considered to be one of the last masters of the traditional Ukiyo-e style. See an excellent biography on Kunichika here.

Fifty-Four Modern Feelings (Matched with the Fifty-Four Chapters of Genji)

Published by Takegawa Seikichi
Carved by Asai Ginjiro
ca. 1884

Scenes from the Lady Murasaki Shikibu's 11th century novel, The Tale of Genji have been illustrated many times in paintings, prints, lacquer ware and ceramics. Kunichika was not the first artist to publish a series of prints based on The Tale of Genji. In fact, his teacher Kunisada had produced the original Rustic Genji illustrations for Ryotei Tanehiko's novel, An Impostor Murasaki, and also a Rustic Genji, 1828.

Kunichika's title "Fifty-Four Modern Feelings" is actually a play on words: the pronunciation of the kanji characters for prince Genji from "The Tale of Genji", has the same pronunciation as the kanji characters for the word meaning "contemporary times" (genji).

Note: Thanks go to Manpai (Manuel Duarte Paias), who points out that the print numbers for this series do not match exactly with the 54 Genji chapters. Some chapters are represented by several prints, such as Genji Chapter 44, which is represented by prints 18, 27, 47, and 53 from the Kunichika series. See Manpai's website here.

I have several prints from this series available here.


Kunichika
Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 1, Chapter ? Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 2, Chapter ? Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 3, Chapter ? Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 4, Chapter ?
#1, Chapter 10 - Sakaki

#2, Chapter 11 - Hanachirusato #3, Chapter 3 #4, Chapter 16
Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 5, Chapter ? Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 7, Chapter ? Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 8, Chapter ?
#5, Chapter 19 #6, Chapter 6 #7, Chapter 19- Usugumo #8, Chapter 8- Hana no en

Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 10, Chapter ? Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 11, Chapter ?
#9, Chapter 9 #10, Chapter 10- Sakaki #11, Chapter 2- Hahakigi

#12, Chapter 12
Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 14, Chapter ? Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 15, Chapter ?
#13, Chapter 13 #14, Chapter 14- Miozukushi #15, Chapter 15- The Palace in the Tangled Woods (Yomogiu)

#16, Chapter 16
#17, Chapter 17 #18, Chapter 44 #19, Chapter 6 #20, Chapter 15

#21, Chapter 27 #22, Chapter 22 #23, Chapter 23 #24, Chapter 24

Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 26, Chapter 26
#25, Chapter 6 #26, Chapter 26- Wild Carnations (Tokonatsu)

#27, Chapter 16 #28, Chapter 28
Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 29, Chapter 29 Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 30, Chapter 16 Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 31, Chapter ?
#29, Chapter 29- The Royal Visit (Miyuki) #30, Chapter 16- Sekiya #31, Chapter 31- The Cypress Pillar (Makibashira)

#32, Chapter 32
Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 34, Chapter 34 Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 35, Chapter 1
#33, Chapter 33 #34, Chapter 34- New Herbs, Part One (Wakana 1)

#35, Chapter 1 #36, Chapter 53
Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 39, Chapter 42 Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 40- Chapter 40- The Rites (Minori)
#37, Chapter 36 #38, Chapter 34 #39, Chapter 42- Niou Miya #40, Chapter 40- The Rites (Minori)

Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 41- Chapter 41- The Wizard (Maboroshi) Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 43- Chapter 43- The Rose Plum (Kobai)
#41, Chapter 41- The Wizard (Maboroshi)

#42, Chapter 42 #43, Chapter 43- The Rose Plum (Kobai) #44, Chapter 53
Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 45- Chapter 53- Tenarai Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 47- Chapter 44- Takegawa Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 48- Chapter 32- Umegaya
#45, Chapter 53- Tenarai #46, Chapter 30 #47, Chapter 44- Takegawa

#48, Chapter 32- Umegaya
Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 49- Chapter 49- The Mistletoe (Yadorigi) Toyohara Kunichika - Chapter 50 Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 52- Chapter 52- The Gossamer-Fly (Kagero)
#49, Chapter 49- The Mistletoe (Yadorigi) #50, Chapter 50 #51, Chapter 47 #52, Chapter 52- The Gossamer-Fly (Kagero)

Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 53- Chapter 44- Takegawa Kunichika- Modern Genji - Print 54- Chapter 54- The Bridge of Dreams (Yume no ukihashi)
#53, Chapter 44- Takegawa #54, Chapter 54- The Bridge of Dreams (Yume no ukihashi)

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Literature sources used for artist biographies:
  • Various web sources;
  • Merritt, Helen and Yamada, Nanako, "Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints 1900-1975", University of Hawaii Press, 1995, ISBN 0-8248-1732-X.

©2002, Dr Ross F. Walker.