Visiting Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum (Part 3 of 3)

I do apologize for more than 6 months rest from writing my travel adventures, had been busy, but still got a chance to visit some cities in USA and even got a chance to return to Japan for a while. This post is a continuation of my previous post that focusing about Dotonbori.

Before leaving Dotonbori, I visited a museum which included in the Osaka Pass that I bought. Since I love museum, I was curious what to see inside of Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum.


One of the Ukiyoe Prints with the name of museum (sorry as it was blurred one)

Finding the museum was quite a challenge, I used my GPS in my phone and I knew that I was in front of it, but I was not sure since I did not see immediately the English Version name of the building (which can be seen only at one side) as I stand in the corner of it. The museum is a two-storey small and narrow building, because of that I had doubts if it’s the museum. Then, I entered the building and asked someone if it’s the museum that I was looking for, the Japanese lady confirmed to me that it was. Next, I showed my Osaka Pass to the lady in the counter and she exchanged it to a ticket. Then, I took upstairs to see the current exhibit displayed at that time.

Dotombori (Dotonbori)


As part of my learning in the museum, “Kamigata” refers to Kansai region where Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe belong but not used anymore when Emperor Meiji moved to Edo (now Tokyo).

Some of the display that I found describes the old days of Dotombori (Dotonbori). The exhibits displays the entertainment information of the area including theatre descriptions and maps. Here, I understood why Dotombori is called as Japanese Broadway, because the best theatres in the country can be found in the area. Other displays even shows how busy and festive Dotombori area at its earlier times.

Settsu Meisho Zue



Settsu Meisho Zue (illustrated famous-place picture collection which introduced Osaka’s famous place)


Detailed description of Dotombori



Kaomise at Dotombori (Naka-za Theatre)



Kaomise at Kado-za Theatre



Takeda-no-shibashi (Takeda Theatre)

A piece of history every time I discover it made me sad because a piece or part of history has been destroyed because of war. Below mentioned that almost all theatres were gone during the air raid in March 1945.


And the Best Theatres to see in Dotombori during its old days (where some of it still exist as of this time).

Ukiyoe Paintings (Prints)

Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum is a private museum and mainly focused to display traditional Ukiyo-e artwork depicting Kabuki performers. Kamigata Ukiyo-e was produced mainly in Osaka during Edo period. The museum changed their display from time to time. At the time of my visit, they are displaying ukiyo-e paintings with the theme of “Actor’s Make-up in Ukiyo-e paintings”. It means that the exhibits features the make-up of kabuki actors.


About Ukiyoe paintings




Paints Used for Ukiyoe paintings


Different color information used for Ukiyoe paintings


Ukiyo-e is a genre of Japanese art which flourished from the 17th through 19th centuries. Its artists produced woodblock prints and paintings of such subjects as female beauties; kabuki actors and sumo wrestlers; scenes from history and folk tales; travel scenes and landscapes; flora and fauna; and erotica. The term ukiyo-e (浮世絵) translates as “picture[s] of the floating world”.


Kokusenya Kassen

One of the display found in the exhibit was Kokusenya Kassen (The Battle of Coxinga) Ukiyoe print. It shows the puppet play created by Chikamatsu Monzaemon which portrays the historical figure named Koxinga or Coxinga (Chinese Ming loyalist resisted Qing) and depicts a jidaimono play (historical episode) restoring the rightful dynasty of China. Utagawa  Yoshitaki (also known as Ichiyosai Yoshitaki) is a famous Japanese designer of ukiyoe woodblock prints in Osaka whom created more than 1200 ukiyoe prints during his time and commonly portrays kabuki (classic Japanese dance-drama) actors.


Kokusenya Kassen (The Battle of Coxinga)

Hagi wa Sendai Na wa Matsumoto (Matsumoto and the famous autumn flowers of Sendai)

The story of the play was said to be a rework of another play called “Meiboku sendai hagi” (Bush clover, the famous tree of Sendai) which dramatize the intrigues over the succession within Date clan of Sendai. One of the main character named Nikki Danjo conspired to overthrow Ashikaga (represents the Date Clan) Yorikane which in the end was slain. This was made by Shunkōsai Hokushū whom recognized as the most important artist in Osaka.

The ghostly rodent is actually Nikki in metamorphosis — he possesses magical powers, including the ability to turn himself into a giant rat. Nikki holds his hands in the manner associated with nercromancy as the rat emerges from his human form (note the lighter shading of the tail and hindquarters, indicating that the transformation is still in progress). Nikki is a prime example of an important role type known as jitsuaku (or tategataki) — unrepentant evil samurai who plot to overthrow their lords. They are also referred to as kuni kuzushi (“demolisher of nations”) to signify their intention to usurp an emperor’s throne or a daimyô’s domain.

The rat clenches with his teeth a scroll containing a list of conspirators planning to wrest power from Yorikane. Later, pretending to have reformed, Nikki will substitute another list and offer it as trumped-up evidence of the conspiracy, only to remove a dagger hidden within the scroll and mortally wound a counsel and ally of Yorikane’s son.



Hagi wa Sendai Na wa Matsumoto (Matsumoto and the famous autumn flowers of Sendai)

Arashi Rikan Lineage by Yoshikuni


Arashi Rikan Lineage by Yoshikuni (Portrait of different roles of Arashi Rikan)

Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura (Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees)

Sato Tadanobu, Yoshisune’s follower who has accompanied Yoshisune’s lover, Shizuka Gozen, is in fact a fox. It has transformed into Sato Tadanobu because the drum-head of Yoshitsune’s drum was made from the fox’s parent’s skin. Finally. Shizuka Gozen finds it out.

–Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum

One of the three most popular and famous in the Kabuki repertoire

— Wikipedia


Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura

Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami (Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy)

Same with Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura (above) ukiyoe, Sugawara Denjun Tenarai Kagami is one of the most popular play in kabuki repertoire. In the act III of this play where it titled as “The Struggle for the Carriage (Kurumabiki)”.

This famous scene, “a classic example of Kabuki’s stylized beauty”,[13] takes place in front of the Yoshida Shrine in Kyoto. The scene opens as Umeōmaru and Sakuramaru try to stop Shihei’s carriage, and are confronted by Matsuōmaru, a member of the entourage. As the pair begin to unlash the oxen and tear apart the carriage, Shihei emerges, his blue face makeup marking him as a villain. He glares at them malevolently, halting their attack.



Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami

Shinpan Kikugoro Zukushi


Shinpan Kikugoro Zukushi (created by Kuniyasu)

The memorial performance for Danzuo IV

Is a 9/1824 tsuizen-e depicting Ichikawa Danzo V (1788-1845) on the stage of the Kado Theater commemorating the 17th anniversary of the passing of his celebrated forebear Danzo IV (1745-1808). The 17th anniversary (actually falling in the 16th year, due to the way Japanese count such things) is an important milestone in ancestor worship. Beyond that date the deceased’s generation is understood to seriously drop off in numbers; so does interest, one can assume, even within a family.

Danzo IV (known as Shiko) had the final curtain drawn on him before single sheet Osaka printmaking had reached its flowering.* Perhaps this is one reason why Umetatsu (n.d.), an otherwise unrecorded artist, inserted him so strongly, peering down in ferocious mie from inside the triple black frame — actually the mimasu crest of the Ichikawa acting family.

Also of interest is the jaw line of the kneeling Danzo V. Thanks to regional differences in actor portraiture, the same thespian’s face was usually drawn thin and angular in Edo and soft and pudgy in Osaka.

In this case, though the print lists an Osaka publisher, Danzo V’s visage (pointedly sans make-up) betrays the narrower Edo look.

One possible reason may lie in the first part of Umetatsu’s signature — “Azumaya,” or “Easterner.” If the artist was visiting from Edo, (where he presumably would have used a different name, and where, incidentally, both Danzos were hugely celebrated), that could explain both the obscurity of the signature, and the actor’s severe jaw line.

It might also explain the rarity of this print. True, Danzo V was not performing in Osaka at the time, but one would still expect a special Ichikawa lineage tribute image like this to sell well. Perhaps Osakans reacted particularly negatively to the cut of his jaw.



The memorial performance for Danzuo IV

Azumakagami Mikari no Maki

The Ukiyoe print shown below is portion of the play of Azumakagami Mikari no Maki designed by Syunko.

Azuma Kagami is medieval text chronicles events of the Kamakura Shogunate from Minamoto no Yoritomo’s rebellion against Taira clan. It was compiled after 1266 under the directive of the Hojo shikken. It is an enormously detailed record of different activities centering on the shōgun with almost daily entries that include even notes on the weather.



Azumakagami Mikari no Maki

Hadekurabe Ise Monogatari


Hadekurabe Ise Monogatari

Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami (Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy)

From the scene IV of the play Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami, a print depicts the scene from Tempaizan (Mount Tempai). The ukiyoe print designed by Syunko

Kan Shojo who is leading his quiet life in exile goes to Anrakuji temple to hear the story that the ume (plum) tree that he loved in Kyoto came flying overnight. Umeomaru arrives at the scene and tells Kan Shojo about Fujiwara no Shihei’s conspiracy in Kyoto. Kan Shojo transforms into a thunder spirit from anger and ascends to heaven.

–Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum


Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami by Syunko

Tenmangu Natane no Gokuh (The Rapeseed Offerings at Tenmangu Shrine)

The ukiyoe print was based from pure kabuki play entitled Tenmangu Natane no Gokuh which is one of the play that was written more to exploit the principles of feudal loyalty than to depict court romances.

–Rising from the Flames: The Rebirth of Theater in Occupied Japan, 1945-1952

The print displays the Kabuki actor Nakamura Shikan III is in the role of magician Ki no Haseo in the play, “Tenmangu Natane no Goku” performed at Naka Theater. The print designed by  Utagawa Sadaihiro, a Japanese artist that produced portraits from the beginning of his career. He was said to be a student of Kunisada, but then changed his name to Hirosada and became student under Sadamasu. He was active artist from 1830 to 1850.


Nakamuraza Sankai no Zu (The Third Floor of the Nakamura Theater)

Another ukiyoe displayed was made by Utagawa Kunisada, the most popular and most commercially successfully designer of ukiyoe during 19th century in Japan. The print depicts the kabuki actors in the third floor of Nakamura Theater.


Nakamuraza Sankai no Zu (The Third Floor of the Nakamura Theater)


The museum also showcases a display and information of the old Dotonbori. Through exhibits, it can learned that Dotonbori was a large scale entertainment district and the south side of Dotonbori called as “play side”. Dotonbori has not only kabuki theaters, but also as puppet theaters, and even place for acrobatics or sumo matches. “Settsu Meisho Zue” (1796-1798) the picture collection of Osaka’s famous place illustrates famous places, temples, shrines, events, customs, and traditions in the particular area.


Other stuff that found being exhibit in the museum are below:


Notes :
Plan to visit Osaka ? Please check latest information here.
Location : Osaka, Japan
Directions / Transportation to Osaka :
1. For official access to Osaka coming from anywhere in Japan, please check here.
Official Website : Osaka Info

Plan to visit Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum? Please check latest information here.
Location : 1-chōme-6-4 Nanba, Chūō-ku, Osaka, 542-0076, Japan
Directions / Transportation to Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum:
1. For trains, there are four Namba Stations where different train lines stops near Dotonbori.
a. Take Yamatoji Line for JR Namba Station or
b. Take Hanshin-Namba or Kintetsu Limited Express or Kintetsu-Nara Line for Osaka-Namba Station or
c. Take Modosuji Line or Sen-Nichimae Line or Yotsubashi Line (all subway lines) for Namba Station or
d. Take Nankai Line or Nankai-Koya Line or Nankain Limited Express for Namba Station
2. From different station, follow the walking path towards Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum
3. For official access link, please refer here.
Official Website : Kamigata Ukiyoe MuseumDotonbori


1 Chome-6-4 Nanba, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0076, Japan

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DBA Mountaineer

An IT Professional who is in love to travel to learn more about our world, like natures a lot specially mountains.

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