Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)

Print: Kuwana Station: Story of Sailor Tokuzō (Kuwana - 桑名: Funanori Tokuzō no den - 船のり徳蔵の傳) from the series 53 Stations of the Eastern Sea Road (Tōkaidō gojūsan tsui - 東海道五十三対)   

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Dates: circa 1845,created
Dimensions: 9.625 in,14.25 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print

Signed: Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga
Publisher: Kojimaya Jūbei
(Marks 264 -seal 21-125)
Censor seal: Mura

Related links: Smith College; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Hagi Uragami Museum of Art; Muzeum Sztuki i Techniki Japońskiej Manggha, Krakow; Museum für angewandte Kunst, Vienna; Walters Museum of Art; Van Gogh Museum; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Fujisawa Ukiyo-e Museum; Palmer Museum of Art, Penn State University;

Physical description:

There are nine prints from this series, Fifty-three Pairings for the Tōkaidō Road (Tōkaidō gojūsan tsui - 東海道五十三対), in the Lyon Collection. See also #s 382, 815, 816, 819, 861, 1022, 1095 and 1269.

Station #43, from a series collaborated by artists Utagawa Kuniyoshi, Utagawa Hiroshige, and Utagawa Kunisada (Toyokuni III). Image depicts apparition of the "sea monk," umibōzu, towering over the ship captain Tokuzō.

An umibōzu, sea monster, appears frequently in coastal folklore and Edo period writings. It is notorious for wrecking boats and dragging people into the sea. A well-known umibōzu tale appears in the Usō Kanwa 雨窓閑話, a collection of stories from the late Edo period:

A noted sailor by the name of Kuwana no Tokuzō 桑名の徳蔵 violates the taboo on boating at the end of the month and goes out to sea alone. Sure enough, he encounters a great nyūdō (a euphemism for a bald-headed monster) 1 (~3 meters or 10 feet) in height, with terrible eyes like scarlet mirrors. The ōnyūdō asks Tokuzō if he finds its shape frightening, but the sailor replies that he finds nothing frightening but making his way in the world. With no reply to this wit, the umibōzu vanishes instantly.


The curatorial files from the Walters Museum of Art say:

The Sea Monk (Umi Bozu) is a sea monster with a smooth round head, like the shaven head of a Buddhist monk. This woodblock print illustrates the story of the sailor Kawanaya Tokuzo, who decides to go to sea on the last day of the year, which other sailors consider unlucky. A violent storm breaks out, and the Umi Bozu appears. In a ghastly voice the apparition demands, "Name the most horrible thing you know!" Tokuzo yells back, "My profession is the most horrible thing I know!" The monster is apparently satisfied with this answer and disappears along with the storm.


There is another copy of this print in the National Gallery, Prague and in the Harn Museum at the University of Florida.There is another copy of this print in the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde, Leiden.


The text at the top in the fan-shaped cartouche reads:まだ霧ふかき朝まだき 城のこなたの松原にて 源之丞が二人の伜 かんなん辛苦も時を得て 恨みかさなる水右衛門を首尾よく討取本地に返り 名を万代に残しける めでたしめでたし

The text toward the bottom reads: 石井が隠妻(ことつま)お松といえるは明石の里に侘住ひ 二人り子供を養育し賎が手業に世を送る まづしき中に操を立 夫の身の上物案じ しばしまどろむ夕暮に 門辺にたたずむ源之丞 昔にかはらぬ立派の出立 お松は嬉しく出迎ひ 御堅固なりしか我夫(つま)と いわんとすればこつぜんと ねふりはさめて逆夢なる 返り討ときくよりも ひたんに袖をしぼりしが 思ひ定めて幼子を 舅の源蔵に預け置き みどりの黒髪をおし切て 菩提の道に入りにける


Illustrated in:

1) color in Kunisada's Tōkaidō: Riddles in Japanese Woodblock Prints by Andreas Marks, p. 106, #T78-43.

2) a small black and white reprodction in Yokai Attack! The Japanese Monster Survival Guide by Hiroko Yoko and Matt Alt, p. 52.


There are other copies of this print in the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas and in the National Diet Library in Japan.


The original Tōkaidō was established by the Kamakura bakufu (1192-1333) to run from Kamakura to the imperial capital of Kyoto.


The Tōkaidō gojūsan tsui: A collaborative work

Andreas Marks wrote in 'When two Utagawa masters get together. The artistic relationship between Hiroshige and Kunisada' in Andon 84, November 2008, pp. 37 and 39:

"The artistic relationship between Hiroshige and Kunisada entered a new period in 1845, when both artists were commissioned to contribute to the series Fifty-Three Pairs of the Tōkaidō (Tōkaidō gojūsan tsui). The Fifty-Three Pairs of the Tōkaidō is an example of a series where a number of artists were commissioned to contribute complete and individual designs under a specific theme. A few years before, the Kisokaidō series by Hiroshige and Eisen had been published with the same concept. This concept became quite common in the second half of the 1840s until the early 1850s, and sometimes the artists were supported by their disciples who drew inset cartouches.

The main contributor to the Fifty-three Pairs of the Tōkaidō was actually Kuniyoshi with 30 designs, followed by Hiroshige (21 designs), and Kunisada (eight designs)." This series of 59 ōban falls in a period when designers, actors, writers, and publishers had been imprisoned or expelled from Edo in the aftermath of the so-called Tenpō reforms (Tenpō no kaikaku). Only the joint effort of six different publishers made this series possible."