Japanese Woodblock Reprint
The Byakkotai (White Tiger Force)
Comments - Fascinating reprint depicting the Byakkotai or White Tiger Force, a group of teenage Aizu samurai who fought in the Boshin War against Japanese Imperial troops. Composed of about 305 boys aged 16 to 17, the unit was divided into smaller squads. Cut off from their unit during the Battle of Tonoguchihara, 20 young squad members retreated to Iimori Hill overlooking the town and castle. They saw flames and smoke rising around the fortress, and assumed that it had fallen to the enemy. Believing their daimyo and families were dead, they committed suicide. Only one of the boys survived, his attempted seppuku unsuccessful. In the center, a boy carrying a gun points to the smoke billowing up into the night sky around the castle towers. On the ground nearby, other young samurai are in various stages of seppuku, bleeding heavily or collapsed on the ground. Sadly, the castle was not taken, and the flames they saw were from the town burning between the hill and the castle. The boys are buried atop the hill, with a stone marker memorializing them. A rather gory, but poignant, image of these loyal and brave young warriors. Produced during the mid-20th century, this reprint triptych is especially rare. This is only the third copy we have come across at Fuji Arts.
Artist - Meiji era artist (not read)
Image Size - 14 1/4" x 28" + margins as shown
Condition - Three separate panels. Excellent condition overall with no issues to report.