Japan Art and Toyonobu: Warlords of Bygone Days

Japan Art and Toyonobu: Warlords of Bygone Days

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Utagawa Toyonobu was born in 1859 and died before the end of the nineteenth century during the Meiji Period (1868-1912). Accordingly, he was a young child when the Edo Period finally ended.

All three prints by Toyonobu focus on warlords and individuals of esteem concerning the pre-Edo Period – and the founding father of the Edo Period. Above is the revered General Kusunoki Masashige (1294-1336) – who died a martyr in the tradition of the ultimate loyal samurai.

In the print of General Kusunoki Masashige, he is bidding farewell to his son and other important people. He knows that death is likely because his mission is nigh impossible. However, his pious loyalty to Emperor Go-Daigo (1288-1339) meant he obeyed and died a martyr.

The second print focuses on Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598) and Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616). These two individuals – following on from Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582) – unified Japan when Tokugawa Ieyasu established the Edo Period.

The final print shows the samurai Gotō Matabei (1565-1615) at the front of the ship despite the brutal storm. He was only young during the invasion of Shikoku Island in the 1580s.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi ordered the successful invasion and defeated the Chōsokabe clan.

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