Kunichika Series: Comparisons of Famous Products, the Pride of Tokyo (Tokyo jiman meibutsu awase), 1896

This is another hugely under appreciated series by Kunichika working in collaboration with lesser known artists of the late Meiji era such as Kaoru Umemoto.

The publisher was the great Fukuda Kumajirō and, as you would expect, the work is of the highest quality. The prints were made onto a very thick paper and feature a lot of time consuming effects such as embossing and bokashi (fades). 

Series title:  “Tokyo jiman meibutsu awase” (東京自慢名物会), “Comparisons of Famous Products, the Pride of Tokyo”; Date: 明治29 (1896) / month 8 (or from other months?); Signed: differently on each print; 
Publisher: Fukuda Kumajirō [福田熊次郎] then residing at 19 Hasegawa-cho, Nihonbashi-ku, Tokyo [東京日本橋区長谷川町十九番地]; Carver: sometimes given as 二世彫栄 (second generation Hori Ei)

Each print has the series title in a floral panel in the top-right with a bokashi fade and the print title in a fan below, with the name of (I think) the calligrapher “Bira Tatsu” in the fam below. Then the top and left most panels feature places of interest or notable crafts / products such as cloth dying and prrinting. The girl in the bottom right seems to be a local geisha of note. Interestingly, I discovered the the girl in the first image (Ponta of the Tamanoya in Shinbashi) appears to have also worked as a photographer’s model and was written about: 

Seibei Kajima (1866—1924): In 1890, Kajima asked Ponta, then an apprentice geisha at Tamanoya in Shinbashi, to pose for his posters, a coincidence that led to them spending their later lives together. In 1896, his lavish spending habits caused relations with the Kajima family to break down. He spent the remainder of his life with Ponta who supported him through his dramatic final years when he had to close the photographic studio and lost a finger in an explosion.


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