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An image of Bon Festival moon by Tsukioka YOSHITOSHI


(Japan 1839 – 1892)

Bon Festival moon, from the series One hundred aspects of the moon
Alternative title:
Bon no tsuki
Place of origin
Meiji period 1868 - 1912 → Japan
Media category
Materials used
colour woodblock; ôban

39.0 x 26.0 cm

Signature & date
Signed and dated.
Yasuko Myer Bequest Fund 2012
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

Bon is a Buddhist summer festival held every year when the moon is full during the seventh lunar month. It is to honour the spirits of dead ancestors who are visiting descendants in the living world. Also known as the Latern Festivals laterns are used to guide spirits to and from where they came. In country areas there is a dance called 'bon odori' which is performed, where men and women dance in a line or circle clapping and singing. They wear light cotton 'yukata' and dance with a fan and the boys wear geometrical patterns with hair tied in queues.

Yoshitoshi’s career straddled two eras – the last years of the Edo period and the first few decades of modern Japan following the Meiji Restoration in 1867. Initially enthusiastic and opened to Western influxes, he became increasingly sceptical about the loss of numerous aspects of traditional Japanese art and culture due to rapid industrialisation and Westernisation. In a time when modern reproductive technologies such as photography and lithography were introduced to Japan and enjoyed high popularity, Yoshitoshi concentrated his efforts in introducing new themes and techniques to the stagnant art of ukiyo-e colour woodblock prints, taking it thus to a new height, before it definitely declined after his death. His highly imaginative, often flamboyant and even disturbing depictions of historical events, warriors, beautiful women and the supernatural has led him to be recognised as the last great master of traditional Japanese woodblock print.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, August 2012.

Bibliography (3)

Yuriko Iwakiri, Yoshitoshi Tsuki hyakushi (Yoshitoshi’s One hundred aspects of the moon), Tokyo, 2010. General reference; Another edition was reproduced

John Stevenson, Yoshitoshi's One hundred aspects of the moon, Seattle, 1992, (colour illus.).; Another edition was reproduced

Chris UHLENBECK, Yoshitoshi: masterpieces from the Ed Freis collection, Leiden, 2011, 135-136. General reference; Another edition was reproduced