How to date Shimura Tatsumi woodblock prints

Early edition prints made during Tatsumi's lifetime always feature seal B, his personal approval seal.

How to date Five Figures of Modern Beauties series

Five Figures of Modern Beauties
L to R: Natsu takete, Maihime, Oibane, Marumage, and Hanafubuki.
Gihachi shirabezumi Tatsumi kenin Carver: Yashita Tadashichi Printer: Inomura Masanosuke Printer: Ito Shuntaro Nihon Hanga Kenkyusho Signature: Tatsumi Carver: Nakagawa Chushichi Printer: Onodera Ryuji Pencil signature Unread seal with edition no.
AGihachi shirabezumi ぎはちしらべすみ (examined by Gihachi. Okuyama Gihachiro 奥山儀八郎 d.1981)
BTatsumi kenin 立美けん印 (approved by Tatsumi. Shimura Tatsumi 志村立美 d.1980)
CCarver: Yashita Tadashichi 矢下忠七
DPrinter: Inomura Masanosuke 猪村正之助 b.1906 d.1961?
EPrinter: Ito Shuntaro 伊藤俊太郎 b.1904
FNihon Hanga Kenkyusho 日本版画研究所 (Japanese Printmaking Institute)
GSignature: Tatsumi
HCarver: Nakagawa Chushichi 中川忠七 b.1921
IPrinter: Onodera Ryuji 小野寺隆二 b.1935
JPencil signature
KSeal (not read) with edition no.

1952, til not later than 1961
First state prints have both seals A and B. Seal A ceased when publisher F dissolved in 1954 and Okuyama family moved to Matsudo. Note that red seals were rather haphazardly applied and printed in different areas of margins (see above for examples of confirmed 1st states). Numerous dealers advertise that the 1st state was an edition of 200. First states or their folders do not indicate edition size.

All early state prints have seal B, carver C, and printer D.** It is very probable that these prints are all first states given the aforementioned haphazard seal application and Gihachiro had very likely left before printing was complete. In fact Gihachiro was very erratic when applying his seal A to his own prints during this period, although he ultimately included these prints in his own catalogue years later (Japanese Woodblock Prints by Okuyama Gihachiro 1977). The few extant early states generally are seen with condition problems, generally toning with very mild foxing.

Printer D worked on Gihachiro's own prints in the mid to late 1940s. There are no known prints of any kind by printer D after 1961. Much later printer I worked on Gihachiro's restrike prints.

** There is a single example of Oibane with carver C and printer E. Red seals are missing and a regular Yuyudo printer may indicate a later proof.

ca. 1975 to 1980
A late lifetime edition was made by carver H and printer I. It appears that colour blocks were repaired and replaced (carver H and printer I specialized in high quality reproductions). This edition was pencil-signed J in a numbered edition of 300 (highest number known 93 96).

1980 til present
Posthumous editions, again with carver H and printer I, were printed in editions of 150, 200, and 300 (highest numbers known 71, 39, and 88 113, respectively), and were numbered in pencil on a red circular seal K. No numbered editions appear to have been completed. These were replaced soon after by an open edition with no red seals, nor pencil edition numbers, nor signature. The open edition was sold either in folders or framed.

The location of the wood blocks is unknown. Printer I was either himself reprinting Gihachiro's prints or supervising printing into the 2000s for Gihachiro's printmaking son, Okuyama Gijin (奥山義人 b.1934 d.2020). The official Shimura website (, Inter Art Co Ltd) was selling woodblock prints up until 2009.

Prints featured in The Female Image: 20th Century Prints of Japanese Beauties (Newland et al. 2000) were the open edition and the book's titles do not match titles embossed on actual prints. Prints featured in Women of Shin Hanga: Judith and Joseph Barker Collection (ed. Hockley 2013) were also the open edition.

How to date later Shimura Tatsumi prints

Yuyudo seal 1 Yuyudo seal 2 >Yuyudo seal 3 >Yuyudo seal 4
LYūyūdo approval seal (not read) (Yūyūdo publisher 悠々洞出版)
MYūyūdo approval seal
NYūyūdo approval seal
OYūyūdo approval seal

There are 21 confirmed woodblock prints, selected from 75 paintings in States of Beauties 美人百態 published in 1976, in addition to the Five Modern Beauties. Shimura was awarded a national book prize in 1976 which was very likely the catalyst for renewed interest and Yuyudo publishing prints from the mid 1970s to 80s. Yuyudo sold in either sets and later pre-framed (edition no. matches on print, frame and cardboard box).

The first 4 of these prints included seal B indicating that these were lifetime editions. The first 4 prints, nearing the end of their edition run, had a red memorial seal added 特別追悼版. The remaining prints included only seals M, N or O, in this chronological order, indicating that these were posthumous editions.

updated April 2021