Utagawa Yoshitora

1836 - 1880

Utagawa Yoshitora was a designer of ukiyo-e Japanese woodblock prints and an illustrator of books and newspapers who was active from about 1850 to about 1880. He was born in Edo, but neither his date of birth nor date of death is known. He was the oldest pupil of Utagawa Kuniyoshi who excelled in prints of warriors, kabuki actors, beautiful women, and foreigners. He may not have seen any of the foreign scenes he depicted.
Yoshitora was prolific: he produced over 60 print series and illustrated over 100 books. In 1849 he produced an irreverent print called Dōke musha: Miyo no wakamochi, which depicts Oda Nobunaga, Akechi Mitsuhide, and Toyotomi Hideyoshi making mochi rice cakes for the shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu. A poem by Sawaya Kōkichi accompanies it, reading "Kimi ga yo wo tsuki katametari haru no mochi". Censors interpreted the print as a criticism of authority and had Yoshitora manacles for fifty days. Soon after Yoshitora was expelled from Kuniyoshi's studio, possibly due to the print, but he continued to produce illustrations prolifically.
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