An image of Moonlight patrol - Saitō Toshimitsu


(Japan 1839 – 1892)

Moonlight patrol - Saitō Toshimitsu, from the series One hundred aspects of the moon

Not on display
Further information

Saitō Toshimitsu was the principal retainer of Akechi Mitsuhide (1526-1582). Here under the light of the full moon, Toshimitsu is inspecting the Kamo River in Kyoto, in full armour and holding his chief weapon the 'naginata' - a long spear with a curved blade. He is making ready for a revenge attack on the Honnoji Temple in 1582, where Oda Nobunaga, the warlord who was Mitsuhide’s archenemy had his headquarters. Nobunaga was caught in a trap at the headquarters and killed. After this Toshimitsu himself was to be captured but escaped and became a monk.

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.

Place of origin
Japan: Meiji period 1868–1912
Dec 1885
colour woodblock; ôban
39.0 x 26.0 cm
Signature & date

Signed and dated.

Yasuko Myer Bequest Fund 2012
Accession number