Umi-Mori Art Museum Special Summer Exhibition

Goodbye Segodon: Ukiyo-e Depictions of the Satsuma Rebellion



Umi-Mori Art Museum

701 Kamegaoka, Ohno, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima

Curators: Takayuki Aoki and Naoki Ouchi


From Saturday July 21, Umi-Mori Art Museum will be holding the special exhibition Goodbye Segodon: Ukiyo-e Depictions of the Satsuma Rebellion.

In 1877 (Meiji 10), samurai from the Satsuma Domain rose up against the government. This was the Satsuma Rebellion, Japan’s last civil war, and it was fought across modern-day Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki and Kagoshima. The rebels were ultimately defeated and their leader Saigo Takamori committed suicide at Shiroyama mountain in Kagoshima.

Satsuma Rebellion ukiyo-e are multi-colored woodblock prints depicting scenes of war. These realistic works gave everyday folk the chance to follow events taking place in far-off Kyushu. The artists mixed information obtained from newspaper articles with the occasional fabrication to create vivid scenes of war.

Many published works show the Satsuma army marching into battle or at the front. This testifies to the public fascination with the rebels at that time. Saigo Takamori was a particularly popular figure and he featured prominently in these prints. Demand remained strong even after the war’s end, as revealed by the brisk sales of woodblock prints depicting actors from Kabuki plays based on the Satsuma Rebellion, for instance. The war even featured in omocha-e toy prints used in children’s games such as sugoroku.

This exhibition showcases around 100 works selected from our museum’s collection of over 300 ukiyo-e prints based on the Satsuma Rebellion. These works were adored by folk back then. We hope you will enjoy them too.

Plan Outline


Exhibition name: Goodbye Segodon: Ukiyo-e Depictions of the Satsuma Rebellion


Details: Ukiyo-e woodblock prints depicting the Satsuma Rebellion originally served as a kind of ‘dispatch from the front line’. Even after the war, they retained their popularity as woodblock prints depicting actors from Kabuki plays or as omocha-e toy prints enjoyed by children, for example. This exhibition takes a retrospective look at these prints using around 100 items selected from our museum’s collection.


No. of exhibits: Around 100


Venue: Umi-Mori Art Museum (701 Kamegaoka, Ohno, Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima)


With the support of: Hiroshima Board of Education and Hatsukaichi City Board of Education


Date: Saturday, July 21 to Sunday, October 14, 2018


Hours: 10:00–17:00 (Last entry: 16:30)


Closed: Mondays (however, the museum will be open on the Mondays of September 17, September 24 and October 8 and subsequently closed on the Tuesdays of September 18, September 25 and October 9)



General admission: 1,000 yen

High school/university students: 500 yen

Junior high school students and younger: Free

* Admission is half price for people with disability certificates, etc. One accompanying person is admitted free of charge.

*Groups of 20 or over will receive a discount of 200 yen per person


Inquiries: info@umam.jp (Umi-Mori Art Museum’s official email address)


Rooms 1 and 2


News reports from the frontline


The most common type of Satsuma Rebellion ukiyo-e prints were those that served as a kind of ‘dispatch from the front line.’ Using information garnered from newspapers, ukiyo-e artists would wield their powers of imagination to vividly recreate scenes of battle between the Satsuma army and the government forces, for instance, or scenes of battle formations. The ukiyo-e woodblock prints in Room 1 and 2 depict the passage of the Satsuma Rebellion from beginning to end. The rooms also feature multicolor nishiki-e portraits of leading figures from both the Satsuma and government sides.

Utagawa Yoshitora: The Rebels Take to the Front in Kagoshima

oshu Chikanobu: Saigo Takamori’s Last Stand at Shiroyama

Shinsai Toshimitsu: Inspecting the Decapitated Head of Saigo Takamori at Shiroyama

Yoshu Chikanobu: Leaders of the Pacification of the Kagoshima Rebels Celebrating with Cups of Wine from the Emperor

Suzuki Toshimoto: Famous Scholars and Warriors - Saigo Takamori

Suzuki Toshimoto: Famous Scholars and Warriors - Kirino Toshiaki


Room 3


The Women’s Army


 These works depict female soldiers in battle. Rumors of a women’s army appeared in several contemporary newspapers, though the veracity of these reports are doubted. Nonetheless, the women’s army became a popular theme of ukiyo-e, with fantastical halberd-wielding female warriors often depicted leaping into battle against government forces. These flamboyant portrayals of women soldiers in richly-colored garments captured the hearts of the common folk at the time.

Yoshu Chikanobu: Chronicle of the Subjugation of Kagoshima

Yoshu Chikanobu: Chronicle of the Kagoshima War

Nagashima Mosai: Fierce Fighting by the Kagoshima Women’s Army

Yoshu Chikanobu: Dispatches from Kagoshima – The Battle at Kotsuki River

Yoshu Chikanobu: Chronicle of the Subjugation of Kagoshima

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi: Chronicle of the Conquest of Kagoshima in Satsuma and Choshu


Room 4


Omocha-e Toy Prints


This room features children’s toy prints based on the Satsuma Rebellion. Toy prints were designed to be cut up and played with or used as learning tools. Many toy prints featuring the Satsuma Rebellion were produced a year after the war’s end, with the war’s impact also felt in the world of toys.

Illustrations of Kagoshima Rebels

Utagawa Kunisada III: Sugoroku Game Depicting the Subjugation of Kagoshima


The Satsuma Rebellion and Kabuki Theater


 These works feature actors who starred in Kabuki plays based on the Satsuma Rebellion. The first such play appeared in January 1878 (Meiji 11), three months after the war ended. Several other plays soon followed, including The Morning East Wind Clearing the Clouds of the Southwest, a smash hit by the dramatist Kawatake Mokuami that ran for over 80 days. These prints provide a glimpse into the vivid, highly-artistic world of kabuki actors.

Toyohara Kunichika: Actors in the The Morning East Wind Clearing the Clouds of the Southwest

Toyohara Kunichika: Actors in the The Morning East Wind Clearing the Clouds of the Southwest (Shonentai)


Room 4


Saigo Takamori and Ukiyo-e


These prints feature Saigo Takamori, the leader of the Satsuma Rebellion. The history of Japanese close-up portraits is filled with portrayals of Saigo Takamori, thus testifying to his popularity among contemporary folk. Some works depict the ‘Saigo Star’ (at that time, Mars was at its closest to earth and this led to rumors that Saigo Takamori was inside this new ‘star’), while other portray Saigo leaving his wife or visiting hell, for example. We hope you enjoy these varied ukiyo-e depictions of Saigo Takamori.

Yamazaki Toshinobu: Saigo Takamori in Hell

Yoshu Chikanobu: The Truth Behind the Mysterious Star