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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Museum Confirms Discovery Of 5 Hokusai Prints

The Japan Ukiyo-e Museum in Matsumoto-shi (Matsumoto City), Nagano-ken (Nagano Prefecture) has determined that five wood block prints (ukiyo-e) in its possession are original prints from 1831 drawn by famed artist Hokusai.

Why is this important? Aren't there plenty of examples of his artwork still around? 

Apparently few examples of this rare set - Hyaku-monogatari (Ghost Tales) - from 1831 actually exist, with it being one of the most faked or copied set around. 

Fake copies have been circulated since the Meiji (post 1868) era, but with this great discovery, this museum becomes the only one to actually own an original set of the five pieces. 

While news agencies such as the Japan Times have reported on this story, none have offered a look at what the pieces look like. 

Let Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife set the record straight. 

They are each 26 centimeters tall by 19 centimeters wide, and are indeed based on popular ghostly legends from the era. 

The authenticity of these ukiyo-e was proclaimed by Sato Satoru (surname first), a professor at Jissen Women's Educational Institute, and Matthi Forrer, a researcher with the Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden, the Netherlands

Here are the images - from a set made in 1893. It won't be exactly the same as the original 1931 set that the Museum has, as the colors will be slightly different, along with different publisher seal and censor stamp, but at least you can see what the ukiyo-e look like.

 Hyaku-monogatari ('Ghost Tales')

('Haunted Revenge')

('The Plate-mansion Ghost')

('The Ghost of O-Iwa')
('Laughing Demon')

Breathtaking! Images 3-5 should scare the crap out of anyone!

The works are on display at the museum until May 31, 2012.

Files by Andrew Joseph


  1. That's so cool! You know, you hear these types of stories all the time! "Guy finds Picasso for $5 at Flea Market".... "Woman find original US Constitution document hidden in painting".... "Man finds Andy Warhol at 5-years-old drawing for $2 at garage sale." F*CK!!!!!!! As the Cure would say, "Why Can't I Be You?" "The Cure - "Why Can't I Be You?".

    1. I fantasize about stuff like that all the time (women, too!)... but yeah... you should see how well I go over things at garage sales...
      Regardless of who found it, I am glad that these prints still exist, and that there is a full set for people to enjoy.
      Blog coming up about the ghost stories behind the art.

  2. FYI, you have a typo up there that says "1931" instead of "1831." The error was reproduced twice in the Japanalyst post here:

    1. Would you believe I actually caught that error YESTERDAY?! Sorry, and thanks for taking the time to let me know! Cheers

    2. Also... and this isn't the fault of Japanalyst, but it always takes the first posting of a blog and does not pick-up and subsequent corrections... Cheers!

  3. We've long been inspired by urban art and have finally created a collection that pays homage to this secret addiction of ours!