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Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (aka Yoshitoshi), Japanese, (1839–1892)
Hanai Oume Killing Minekichi, 1887
Ink on Paper
13 in. x 8 13/16 in. (330.2 mm x 223.84 mm)


Object Type: Print
Technique: Wood-block Printing
Creation Place: Asia, Japan
Credit Line: Gift of Miss Lilian Miller
Accession Number: 44.1.40


Full Title: Lives of Modern People, A Supplement of the Yamato Newspaper: No. 11, Hanai Oume Killing Minekichi

Marks
Japanese text across the top edge and in a box in the upper part of the image. On mat, in pencil: MI32, "Man Killing Man," exhib. "Yoshitoshi" 11-12/86, Montgomery. Artist's seal: Taiso. Signed: Yoshitoshi.

Medium
Colored ink woodblock print on paper; oban.

Object Description
Meiji period color woodblock print. Hanai Oume, who formerly had been a geisha under other names, was the owner of the Suigetsu restaurant in Tokyo. The night of June 9, 1887, she killed a man named Kamekichi on the banks of the Sumida River and afterward was arrested and charged with murder. Oume pled in court that she had been refusing Kamekichi's advances for some time, that he had attacked her in the dark with a knife, and that she had killed him in self-defense. The prosecution charged that the couple had been violent lovers, that Oume was a woman with a violent temperament, that Kamekichi had become increasingly parasitic, and that she had premeditated the murder. Oume was sentenced by the court to life imprisonment. The trial made her a celebrity, and a play and a novel were written about her. She was paroled from prison in 1903 and from that time supported herself through public recitations of her story. Yoshitoshi's print was published about two months after the murder as the eleventh in a series of twenty pictures of contemporary figures, issued as supplements by the Yamato Newspaper. This was Yoshitoshi's last set of “newspaper prints” [...]. The text at the top of the print presents a brief biography of Oume and a resume of the two theories of her guilt, concluding that one way or another, “she was certainly an extraordinary woman.” Details in the figure's presentation show that Yoshitoshi was clearly convinced that the murder was in self-defense. Oume could neither have concealed nor held a knife before the meeting: she has dropped from her hands the umbrella and the lantern bearing the name of her restaurant, and a folded piece of cloth has fallen from the only place she could conceal a weapon, the pocket formed by the overlap of her robe across her chest. Also, the lantern is slashed indicating that she held it up to protect herself. How she tore the knife from her assailant the artist left us to guess, but he obviously sympathized with her cool determination to finish of the hapless Kamekichi once and for all rather than risk a later attack.
(Ref. Keyes, Roger, and George Kuwayama. "The Bizarre Imagery of Yoshitoshi: The Herbert R. Cole Collection," p.76)

Publisher
The Yamato Newspaper Company.

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