The Hundred Poets - Six Famous Poets - Views of Tempozan, by Gakutei - Landscapes by Hokujiu and Hokkei.

We now come to Hokusai's well-known set of illustrations to the famous anthology, Hiaku-nin-isshiu (Single Songs of a Hundred Poets), entitled Hiaku-nin-isshiu Ubaga Yetoki (The Hundred Poets illustrated by the Nurse), of which twenty-seven are known, together with fourteen original drawings which were never used for reproducing as prints.

The Hundred Poets is an anthology collected in A.D. 1235 by Fujiwara-no-Sudaiye, himself one of the hundred, and ranges from A.D. 670 to the year of compilation. The best English translation of this anthology, and one which preserves very well the spirit and intention of the original, is that by William N. Porter. [1] On one page is the original, below which is a wood-cut taken from a native edition of about 1790; on the opposite page is the translation.

Perhaps what strikes one most in connection with the Hyaku-ninisshiu ('Single Songs of a Hundred Poets') is the date when the verses were written; most of them were produced before the time of the Norman Conquest, and one cannot but be struck with the advanced state of art and culture in Japan at a time when England was still in a very elementary stage of civilization. (Porter.)

Hokusai's illustrations are full size, oblong; each signed Zen Hokusai Manji (Old Man Hokusai); red seal of publisher Yeijudo and red kiwame seal. On a narrow upright label is the title of the series, and on a square one, partly overlapping it, is the name of the poet illustrated and his poem. Some plates are much rarer than others; fine copies of any are not at all easy to procure, while the series as a whole may be described as moderately rare. The scene portrayed generally illustrates the poem or the circumstances under which it was written, but sometimes there appears to be little or no connection between them, or else it is too subtly veiled for our understanding.

The following constitute the poets illustrated

No.1. The Emperor Tenchi (reigned, A.D. 668-671). The poem tells how, while watching harvesters at work, the Emperor took shelter from a shower of rain in a neighbouring hut, which afforded only slight protection.

The scene shows us labourers at work in the rice-fields and travellers passing along a narrow path, and in the right foreground another peasant and his wife, preceded by a boy crossing a small bridge over a stream. In the background a few rude huts showing amongst trees, behind which rise hills above the mist. In the centre three tall but slender trees stand out against a sunset sky.

No. 2. The Empress Jito (reigned 690-696), daughter of the Emperor Tenchi. Poem on the coming of summer. Two women carrying linen on a pole which they have just washed in the stream, one going up from the river, which coolies are fording. On the right cloth is hung out to dry, in allusion to the poetess's reference to the angels of the sky who, on the coming of summer, spread their white robes to dry on the peak of the Hill of Heaven.

No. 3. The Nobleman Kaki-no-moto (died A.D. 737). After death he was deified as the God of Poetry. There is no apparent connection in this case between the poem and the illustration, which shows us fishermen dragging a net up a stream; across the scene trails the smoke of a fire. In the poem the nobleman laments his loneliness.

No. 4. Yamabe-no-Akahito (A.D. 700), also deified as a God of Poetry; one of the most celebrated of the poets. His poem is on the beauty of the view of Fuji from Tago Bay, and the illustration depicts Fuji seen from Tago, with people climbing the hillside overlooking the bay.

No. 5. Sarumaru Taiyu (c. 800). Poem on hearing the cry of a stag wandering in the mountains in the autumn-time. Women listening to the stag's call as they travel through the mountains.

No. 6. Chunagon Yaka-mochi. Two men on a junk watching a flight of magpies, in allusion to the Magpies' Bridge, mentioned in the poem (vide Tanabata festival, at page 325, for meaning of the Magpies' Bridge). Three other junks moored near by, and on the right appears a distant coast.

No. 7. Abe-no-Nakamaro, who was sent to China to discover the secret of the Chinese Calendar, and when about to return home was starved to death by the Emperor's orders. The illustration depicts him admiring the rising moon reflected in the calm sea below him, the subject of his poem, which he composed the eve before his return to Japan (vide previous chapter).

No. 9. Ono-no-Komachi, a famous poetess (A.D. 834-880), noted for her great beauty in her youth, followed by a most decrepit and penurious old age, a fact which she bewails in her poem. The scene shows us peasants outside a house engaged in various daily tasks, the drudgery of their work, and the man sweeping up the fallen blossom, illustrating the mood of the poem which has a double meaning running through it. (See page 321.)

No. 11. Sangi Takamura (d. 852). He composed his poem while being deported across the water in a small boat to Yasoshima, on the west coast of Japan, whither he was banished. Illustration: women diving for shells, and a boat putting out to sea, in allusion to the boat which rowed him away.

No. 12. Sojo Henjo, who took holy orders and was made a bishop; he died in the year 890. His poem is an invocation to the winds of heaven to arise and bring up the clouds and bar the passage of the fair ladies who, he fears, will otherwise assume the form of angels and fly away; the ladies being a nobleman's daughters performing the Nil-name Matsuri, a sacred dance, at a Court festival at which Sojo Henjo was present before he entered the priesthood. The illustration, there-fore, depicts the scene which inspired the poem. (See Plate 19.)

No. 17. Ariwara-no-Narihira (A.D. 825-880). Poem on the music of the Tatsuta stream as it flows by, red with fallen maple leaves. Peasants crossing a high-arched bridge, supported on trestles, over the Tatsuta stream, along whose waters are borne fallen maple leaves.

No. 18. Fuji-wara-no-Toshiyuki (A.D. 880-907). A large junk sailing slowly across the Bay of Suminoye, Settsu Province.

His poem is an invitation to his lady-love to meet him on Sumi-noye Beach, where they will be safe from prying eyes.

No. 19. The Princess Ise. A woman and her daughter in the upper part of a house, with men working on the roof.

No. 20. Motoyoshi Shinno (d. 943). In foreground, a coolie dragging along a laden ox, and two women behind large umbrellas looking out over Osaka Bay; behind them a small boy carrying a load on his back. Mist lying over the water, and hills appearing above it, on the left.

Jutting out from the shore, below the road, is a small promontory round which are set up stakes for measuring the height of the tides.

In the poem there is a play on certain words which may mean either to do one's utmost or die in the attempt; or they may refer to the graduated sticks set up at Naniwa (i.e. Osaka) to measure the tides.

The poet, who was notorious for his love affairs, threatens to drown himself by the tide-gauge at Naniwa if he cannot again see his lady-love.

The two meanings of the words are alluded to in the illustration by the coolie struggling his utmost to drag along his refractory beast, and the tide-gauges set up by the water's edge.

NO. 24. Michi-zane Suga-wara (Kwan-ke), (d. 903), a learned scholar, deified as the God of Caligraphy, and a favourite with schoolboys. The poet visiting the temple on Mount Tamuke, Nara, the scene of his poem.

The temple of Hachiman, on Tamuke Mountain, is famous for its maple leaves, which are shown strewn on the ground, and the poet says he can make no finer offering to its shrine than its own maple leaves.

No. 26. Prince Tei-shin (Tadahira Fuji-wara) (died about 936). Scene on Mount Ogura, with the Emperor Uda, after his abdication, being received by the monks of the temple. The poem is an invitation to his son, the Emperor Daigo, to visit Ogura-yama, famous for its maples.

No. 28. Minamoto-no-Mune-yuki (d. 940). Men outside a hut surrounded with a bamboo fence and covered with snow, warming them-selves at a fire, the smoke of which trails upwards across the scene, in allusion to the poem on the dreariness and loneliness of winter-time.

No. 32. Harumichi-no-Tsuraki (died 864). Two men sawing up a large log, and a woman and child crossing a stream covered with maple leaves which a man is clearing out. The poem alludes to the stream choked up with fallen leaves so that it cannot flow on. (See also Imagery of the Poets series in previous chapter.)

No. 36. Kiyowara-no-Fukayabu. The forepart of a large pleasure boat, lit by lanterns, on the river at night, sailing between two smaller boats. Poem on the summer night.

No. 37. Bunya-no-Asa-yasu (lived end of ninth century). Five women in a boat, close to the shore, gathering lilies; one of the rarest prints of the set. Poem on the dew glistening in the grass like sparkling jewels.

No. 39. Sangi Hitoshi (lived during tenth century). A daimyo with two retainers on a wild moor on which bamboo reeds are growing. Probably meant to be the poet himself, who alludes to reeds growing on a wild moor as easier to hide than his passion for his lady-love.

No. 49. Ona-Katomi Yoshinobu (lived end of tenth century). The poet is seated on a hill overlooking a plain, and below are men around the warder's fire at the palace gateway, the subject of his poem, in which he compares the constancy of his love to the watchfulness of the palace warders.

No. 50. Fuji-wara-no-Yoshitaka (d. 974). A bath-house by the edge of a misty lake, over which people are looking from the balcony. From the bath below, in which two men are immersed, steam rises up past the balcony and is lost over the lake in which two cormorants are disporting themselves.

The illustration appears to have no connection with the poem.

No. 52. Fuji-wara-no-Michinobu (tenth century). Daybreak over a grey plain, with trees on the horizon silhouetted against the sky, and coolies bearing three kago, and other travellers, who are setting forth with lanterns along the winding roads across it. In the foreground other coolies hurry along the steep village street with two kago, a companion running beside them. The scene typifies daybreak and the discomforts of turning out in the cold of early morning, such as, no doubt, the coolies feel ; discomforts which the poet gives expression to in his verse.

No. 68. The Emperor Sanjo (reigned A.D. 1012-1015). He was obliged to abdicate in 1015, and composed this poem in his exile, saying that now the moon is the only friend left to him.

The illustration is a temple ceremony in honour of the full moon which shines down upon the scene from a dark sky.

No. 71. Dai-nagon-Tsune-nobu (d. 1096). Road on a hillside over-looking rice-fields, and women filling buckets at a stream, two coolies passing along carrying two baskets on a pole between them.

No. 97. Fuji-wara-no-Sada-iye (known in the anthology as Gon-Chu-Nagon-sada-iye, his official title), the compiler of this anthology, who died 1242. This plate is one of the rarest of the series.

In his poem he sighs for his lady-love, and complains that, though the evening is cool, yet the salt pans drying on the shore are not more parched with thirst than he is. Here again there is a play upon the meaning of words, that translated scorching or evaporating (like the sea-water in the salt pans) also meaning to love ardently. The illustration shows a salt kiln, the fire from which is throwing out a great volume of smoke.


The following are the fourteen original drawings for the key-blocks, which, left by Hokusai at his death, were never used. [2]

14. Kawara-no-Sada-ijin.

21. The Priest Sosei.

25. Sanjo-no-Udaijin (Sadakata Fuji-wara).

34. Fuji-wara-no-Oki-kaze.

43. Chu-nagon Yatsu-tada.

53. Udaisho Michi-Tsuna-no-Haha, a poetess famous for her beauty.

57. Murasaki Shiki-bu, another poetess, famous in Japanese literature as the authoress of the historical romance Genji Monogatari (Tales of Prince Genji).

70. The Priest Riyo-zen.

72. Yushi-Naishinno-ke-kii, a Court lady.

73. Gon-Chu-nagon-Masafusa.

74. Minamoto-no-Toshi-yori-Ason.

75. Fuji-wara-no-Moto-toshi.

76. Hosho-ji Nyudo-Sakino-Kwambaku-Daijo-daijin (Tada michi Fujiwara).

83. Kwo-Tai-Kogu-no-Tayu-Toshinari.

In addition to the Hundred Poets there are also the Thirty-six Poets, and the still more select Rok'kasen, or Six Famous Poets, five of whom also appear amongst the hundred.

These six select poets are Kizen Hoshi, represented in priest's robes with a fan; Ariwara-no-Narihira, with a sheaf of arrows at his back; Sojo Henjo, in priest's robes; Otomo-no-Kuronushi, in Court dress; Bunya-no-Yasuhide, also in Court dress; and the poetess Ono-no-Komachi.

These six poets are represented in a very rare set by Hokusai, full size, upright ; each signed Katsushika Hokusai; publisher Yezaki-ya; c. 1810, according to De Goncourt. Each print is a large figure of the poet in which the outlines are formed by the characters for their names.

Except for Kizen Hoshi and Yasuhide, the poems are different from those which appear in the above anthology. The upper half of each print has the poem written in large characters, the caligraphy of which is evidently supplied by another hand, as this is signed Tonan. Two prints from this set are here reproduced at Plate 17, showing the poets Ariwara-no-Narihira and Bunya-no-Yasuhide. (See page 118.)

1. KIZEN HOSHI. Seated, dressed in priest's robes of dark grey, green and yellow, holding an open fan, and with a smiling countenance. Poem (as in the Hundred Poets Anthology) No. 8:

My home is near the Capital,
My humble cottage bare
Lies south-east on Mount Uji; so The people all declare
My life's a Hill of Care. (Porter.)

The smiling countenance in which Hokusai has depicted him hardly bears out the tenor of the poem bewailing his hard lot, unless, as a philosopher, he hid his sorrows behind a smiling exterior.

The play on the words is contained in the word Uji, which means sorrow or care.

2. ONO-NO-KOMACHI. Seated, half hidden by a screen, her back turned, but looking over her shoulder, and holding a yellow fan. Poem : The colour whose charm is enduring is the colour that flowers pure in the heart (Binyon).

3. OTOMO-NO-KURONUSHI. Seated, facing right, in daimyo's dress of mauve and purple. Poem: I feel that old age comes over me; therefore I will go to see the Mirror on the Mountain (Binyon). This poet is not one of the Hundred.

4. BUNYA-NO-YASUHIDE. Seated, facing right, in Court dress with tall yeboshi hat. Poem from the Hundred Poets Anthology, No. 22.

The mountain wind in autumn time
Is well called hurricane;
It hurries canes and twigs along,
And whirls them o'er the plain
To scatter them again. (Porter.)

5. ARIWARA-NO-NARIHIRA. Seated, facing left, with a quiver of arrows at his back. Dress of blue, with diamond pattern of a darker blue on it, lined with a brown and white pattern (also found in another state with dress of blue and white, lined with orange). Poem: Gazing year after year at the fulness of the perfect moon, I noted not how the years heaped themselves one on another; and lo ! I am grown old (Binyon).

6. SOJO HENJO. Seated, full face, in red robes. Poem: 0 for a heart like the lotus that springs from the mud stainless, and the dew on its leaves is as precious gems (Binyon).

Hokusai also designed a set of Six Poets (c. 1800), quarter-plate size, with the title Rok'kasen on a bean-shaped panel, a figure of the poet, and on a larger panel, variously shaped square, fan-shaped, or bean-shaped, a small illustration to the poem which is written round the figure. Signed Hokusai; publisher Ise-Iri; very rare.

YEISHI has also left a set (full size) of the Six Poets very similar to Hokusai's large set described above.


Amongst Hokusai's pupils, practically three only have left landscape designs and these are very uncommon, as their principal work lay in the production of surimono, as was the case with most of his pupils.

These three were Shotei HOKUJIU (w. c. 1810-30) ; Totoya HOKKEI (b. 1780; d. 1850); and Yashima GAKUTEI (w. c. 1810-40).

This latter designed a fine series of land and seascapes, entitled Tempozan Shokei Ichiran, Views of Tempozan, Osaka, intended as illustrations for a guide to Osaka, published in the year 1838; signed Go-gaku. These views are the full-size, oblong shape, known as yoko-ye, an unusual size for book illustrations. The complete book, text and illustrations, is extremely rare, while the illustrations, singly in sheets, are almost as rare.

1. A sailing junk in the trough of a huge wave making for harbour in a heavy rainstorm. The masterpiece of the series.

2. A fleet of junks entering Tempozan Harbour, under a burst of sunlight against blue clouds, and cranes flying overhead. Another very fine plate. (See Plate 19.)

3. Escaping the Rain. People amusing themselves crawling through square holes in the two pillars at the entrance to a temple, for luck.

4. Moonlight, Suyehiro Bridge. A large boat, with people looking out from the cabin windows, passing under the bridge, which intersects a great moon hanging low in a dark blue sky.

5. Osaka Stone Bridge over the Agi River; view looking out to sea.

6. Eight Views into the Mountains. The stone embankment at the mouth of the Agi River, three junks moored by it, and another sailing past. Clouds lying over the bank, which is lined with trees, and people ascending a three-peaked hill overlooking the river. (Illustrated in our quarto edition at Plate 23.)

TOTOYA HOKKEI has left a series of thirteen prints entitled Shokoku Meisho, Famous Views of Various Provinces, remarkable for their very unusual shape, which is a long, narrow, oblong form, measuring 7 in. by 15ΒΌ in. The title of the series and the sub-title of the plate is on a square label divided into three panels, the signature, Kiko Hokkei, being in the left-hand compartment; publisher Yeijudo of Yedo. (See Plate 19.)

These prints are very rare indeed, but a set of eleven sheets appeared in the Miller sale, 1911, one of them being illustrated in the catalogue thereto, entitled The Village of Musashi, showing a winding road through rice-fields, along which three men on horseback are passing, and a great half-moon resting on the horizon and geese flying across it. Another view of this series, but not included in the Miller set, is here illustrated at Plate 19, Illustration 3, representing a three-masted European ship of the period of the Armada saluting as she passes Mount Inasa, at the entrance to Nagasaki Harbour. The masterpiece of the set is a view entitled Sumida River, Musashi, showing a ferry-boat in a downpour of rain, which has recently been noted by the writer from an American collection. (See Note, Appendix II, for titles of plates.)


SHOTEI HOKUJIU designed several landscapes and views of sea and coast scenery. His prints are remarkable for their evidence of European influence, in the drawing of clouds and shadows cast by figures, while his mountains are drawn in a very curious angular manner, quite cubist in effect. All these characteristics are well shown in his view of the Teawater Canal, Yedo (here illustrated at Plate 19), where the figures on the bank cast shadows and the clouds are strongly indicated by gauffrage. He uses a curious, though very striking, colour-scheme of deep blue, brown, and green. His pictures are called Rangwa, or Dutch pictures, as it was from the Dutch at Nagasaki that he learnt his ideas of European perspective and the delineation of clouds.

A well-known print by him in the same style as that here illustrated and issued through the same publisher, Heikichi, is his view of the famous Monkey Bridge (Saru-bashi) in Koshu Province. The view is taken on a level with the bridge which stretches across the picture from cliff to cliff, over a precipitous gorge; half-way across is a traveller on horseback. In this case his signature is on a narrow upright panel, in the bottom left-hand corner.


Other landscapes by Hokujiu that have come under observation are the following:-

Takanawa, Okido. The Barrier, Takanawa, Yedo. A wide view of Yedo Bay, and junks moored out in the centre, casting shadows on the water; Fuji appearing over low foothills on the right, and in the fore-ground people passing along the shore, on which are built two stone mounds forming the barrier, or gate. On the left appear two rest-houses, and along the water's edge are small booths at intervals. Publisher Yeijudo.

Enoshima, Shichi Ri-ga Hama. The Seven Ri Beach at Enoshima, showing Enoshima Island on the left and Fuji in distance.

Shimosa; Choshi no ura Katsuo Tsuribune; Bonito Fishing-boats at Choshi Bay, Province of Shimosa. View of a rocky coast-line with a curious arched rock and a tunnel running through it; in foreground a boat is being beached stern foremost, and others out in the bay fishing with rods and lines. Publisher Heikichi.

Seishu, Futama ga Ura. Coast of Futami, Province of Seishu, showing the famous Husband and Wife Rocks joined together with a straw rope.

The reader will, no doubt, come across other landscapes by Hokuju, though these are not at all common, but the above should be sufficient to enable him to recognize their peculiar characteristics, and to identify further examples.

[1] A Hundred Verses from Old Japan. Clarendon Press.

[2] Amateur collection sale (anonymous), March, 1910. It is stated in the catalogue thereto that these drawings were originally bought in Japan by the late Dr. Ernest Hart.