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Biography: Hamamatsu UTAKUNI (濱松歌國)

Hamamatsu Utakuni kasahara roo
Utakuni print from 3/1814
Kataoka Nizaemon VII as Kasahara Rôô
in Katakiuchi nitô eiyuki, Naka Theater, Osaka
Woodcut, ôban format




Hamamatsu Utakuni signatureHamamatsu Utakuni (濱松歌國 1776-1827, act. c. mid-1810s), was an author, essayist, kabuki playwright, book illustrator, and actor-print designer. His art training is uncertain, although he might have been a pupil of Kyôgadô Ashikuni. Utakuni's family business seems to have been in cotton goods, and one of his Osaka addresses is recorded as Shimanouchi Aburamachi 2-chôme. Although listed as a kabuki playwright around 1800, in that regard Utakuni was mainly engaged in historical research for kabuki plays.

Among other things, Utakuni wrote actor critiques (yakusha hyôbanki: 役者評判記) about the superstar Nakamura Utaemon III ((三代目 中村歌右衛門 Shikan I 芝翫) and his fans. In 1810 Utakuni and a co-author named Baishiken Hakuo (梅枝軒泊鶯) wrote Shosan gashi — Shikan-cho (Elegant Praises — Shikan Album: 賞賛画詞 芝翫帖) featuring woodblock-printed text, poems, and images interspersed with surimono color and monochrome illustrations by Yamanaka Shonen (山中松年 died 1819). Another Utaemon III critique by Utakuni appeared in 1815, titled Hiiki no hanamichi (Fandom’s Runway, 贔屓の花道). He also wrote Shinsaibashidôri karamonomachi (心斎橋通唐物町) in 1817, also published in Osaka.

A design from the early period of Osaka printmaking by Utakuni is shown on the left. This portrayal of Kataoka Nizaemon VII (片岡仁左衛門) as Kasahara Rôô (笠原老翁) in Katakiuchi nitô eiyuki (A tale of revenge and great courage: 復讐二島英勇記), Naka Theater, Osaka, is the right sheet of a diptych. It was published by Shioya Chôbei (塩屋長兵衛) in 1/1814. For more about this design and later altered-block editions, see the link at the bottom of this page.

Note: There was another artist whose art name was pronounced "Utakuni," but written differently (雨多國). He used the art pseudonym "Naniwa" (浪花) and was active in printmaking slightly later, circa 1824.

Utakuni's Names

Hamamatsu (濱松)
Yaegaki (八重牆)

Personal Names:
Nunoya Ujisuke (布屋氏助)
Seibei (清兵衛);

Art Name (jinmei):
Utakuni (廣信) see signature at top right.

Art Pseudonym ():
Shikitei (in 1816, as cited in literature)

Literary Name (haigô):
Fûfûtei Nansui (風々南水)

Pupils of Utakuni

There appear to be no recorded pupils of Utakuni in the standard published literature.

For more information about Hamamatsu Utakuni, see John Fiorillo's web page: