東京日々新聞 322号

Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun Newspaper, No. 322 東京日々新聞 322号

OCHIAI Yoshiiku 落合芳幾/画 転々堂鈍々/記

Newspapers were a new medium introduced to Japan early in the Meiji period. For events that would attract special attention, the early newspapers used nishiki-e shimbun (polychrome print news sheets): single sheets that combined a graphic illustration and text, to tell the story in a realistic manner. The topics of nishiki-e news sheets included morally uplifting stories, extraordinary events, murders, and love stories. This example reports a story having to do with filial piety, for which the original article was published in the Tokyo Nichinichi Newspaper on March 22, 1873. The nishiki-e version was published in October of 1874. The story it covers concerns a man who ventured deep into the mountains in autumn in search of a small amount of ice for his aged mother. The print has the distinctive air of bunmei kaika (“civilization and enlightenment,” an early Meiji catchphrase), with the bright red frame around it and the cherub holding the title ribbon. What draws the eye, however, are the black used for the mountain and trees and the green of the plants: the vivid colors characteristic of polychrome ukiyo-e prints. In the text, the pronunciations, in kana syllabary, are provided for almost all the kanji characters, and sentences that were difficult to understand in the original article have been rewritten in a plainer style. The story itself also contains gossip of a sort that would attract the interest of ordinary people. The story, combined with the striking image, was clearly designed to appeal to the masses. The approachability of nishiki-e news sheets like this led to their being published in increasingly large print runs and contributed to the spread of newspapers in general. The nishiki-e news sheet had a very short life as a news medium, but its circulating information on current events, which had until then been exclusively available to the educated classes, to the general public was a media revolution.
Collection of
Edo-Tokyo Museum
Tokyo Nichinichi Shimbun Newspaper, No. 322
Collection ID
OCHIAI Yoshiiku
Creation Date
1874 19世紀 
35.7cm x 23.7cm
Edo-Tokyo Museum Digital Archives

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