[modernly supplied title]


kaki ni nihonamagaeru

Persimmons and Japanese Tree-frog


Assigned Number / 規定番号


Theme Identification / 画題識別

110 Persimmon Theme / 110 柿 (カキ) 画題

Signature and Seal Markings:
Edition I (only edition): 楽山篁子生 Raku-zan Kou-shi-sei + Seal A

This is the last documented use of seal A on a newly published Rakusan woodblock print.

[For illustration of seals listed by seal code letter, see the Seals article.]

Series History and Definitions:
During the two years between mid 1933 and mid 1935 Rakusan produced a series of 180 individual woodblock-printed fan designs. These fan designs are printed as negative images with a single impression of black ink. Although all are actually woodblock prints, this traditional negative-image printing style is called 石摺(り), ishi-zuri, lit. 'stone rubbing', from its superficial resemblance to that technique. Rakusan called this series 篁子生石摺画選, Koushisei Ishizuri Gasen, lit. 'Koushisei's Stone-rubbing Print Selection', but it is usually called here the Fan Series.

Rakusan arranged the Fan Series prints into shared-subject groups typically consisting of one design in each of five different fan silhouette shapes. Each of these groups of Fan Series designs are united by a corresponding polychrome 36 Series design which defines the subject. Each shared-subject Fan Series group and its 36 Series design together comprise a theme (画題, gadai).

Rakusan did not include the Fan Series in his main sequence numbering. Therefore, the original number used for each of the 36 Series prints has been modified to identify the Fan Series members of its theme. The five different fan silhouette shapes have been here assigned arbitrary numbers 1 through 5. To indicate a fan design these shape designations are added to the 36 Series number separated by a hyphen. 110-3 is the Fan Series design with fan shape 3 in the 110 Persimmon theme. Like all other designs in this series, 110-3 was only produced in a single print run, and few copies are currently documented.

Theme History:
The 110 Persimmon theme is one of the many entirely regular themes represented by a complete fan quintet and a color woodblock print. The Fan Series designs in the 110 Persimmon theme were produced as woodblock prints in June 1934 and distributed June 25, 1934 in installment four (of twelve). On the installment delivery documents Rakusan used the theme subject title, 柿, kaki, 'persimmon'.

The signature and seal markings and inconsistencies in style suggest that the 110 Persimmon designs were actually created over an extended period encompassing late 1933 into the middle of 1934. This theme is unusual in that it includes designs with four different seals which were produced in at least three distinct carving periods.

The 110 Persimmon theme was evidently one of the original themes decided upon during the earliest planning stage for this series. Like the other seal A designs (as well as a few with other minor seals) 110-3 was carved within the last half of 1933. Except for 110-3 all of the other fan designs with seal A were incorporated into the first six themes (the first two installments). Then 110-3 (and probably also 110-1) were set aside to complete their quintet later on.

At least some persimmon designs were adapted from sketches originally created in the late 1920s during the planning of design 19 of the earlier 100 Series (see below).

The composition of 110-3 includes two branches with leaves and two persimmon fruit. On the branch in the foreground sits a small tree-frog. Unusually, here and on a very few other early designs (including 110-1) Rakusan used an awkward double outline on many of the design elements. Here notice the double outline on the tree-frog, both fruit, and three of the four leaves which makes them almost seem out of focus. Rakusan recognized the shortcomings of this technique for ishizuri designs, and he soon abandoned it. Therefore its use is diagnostic of an early period carving date.

The woodblock print of 110-3 was modeled closely on an actual-size original sumi sketch which although lost can be reconstructed by digitally reversing the image of the woodblock print:

110-3 as originally drawn (reconstruction)

Species Illustrated:
(Japanese) Persimmon, Diospyros kaki, 柿, かき, カキ, kaki, is a familiar fruit tree now widely planted around the world. Despite the name, the tree is native to China, but it has been bred into several popular commercial varieties in Japan where it was an early introduction. The persimmon fruit is very astringent and is not eaten until it is overripe and sweet.

Japanese Tree-frog, Hyla japonica, 日本雨蛙, にほんあまがえる, ニホンアマガエル, nihon ama-gaeru, lit. 'Japanese rain-frog', is a very small Japanese endemic species. From the tiny size alone, all of Rakusan's tree frogs are recognizable as this species, and the identification is confirmed by the skin markings as well.

Related Designs:
Other designs in the 110 Persimmon theme:
110-1 110-2 110-4 110-5 110

Other designs with persimmons:
19alt 19

Other designs with tree-frogs (or other tiny frogs):
109-2 111 114-1 128-2