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Jigsaw puzzles from Japan

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© CLS/Minatoya
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1000: Minatoya (Yumeji)

This woodblock print was used as a poster for Minatoya, Yumeji's venture selling his designs on stationery and textile accessories, which opened in Tokyo in 1914. The three characters in the foreground stand by one of the huge lanterns that hung outside the shop: the man with the cane is Yumeji himself, with Tamaki, his business partner, ex-wife, and lover. Could the figure leaning against the tree be Hikono, his next love, who he met at this time?

This is a powerful evocation of an interesting period in Japan's history.

Minatoya lives on as an online store - and includes a good page of history, in Japanese, but with many photographs. The three women at the botton are (l. to r.) Tamaki, Hikono, and O-yô.

Takehisa Yumeji (1884-1934) is a very well-known, even iconic, figure of early twentieth-century art in Japan. Born in Okayama, western Japan, at 19 he went to Tokyo against the wishes of his family, to study and be an artist. At 23, he met Tamaki, first of a string of loves, a young widow running a postcard shop. They married, and raised two children, despite divorcing in the middle of the process. Tamaki was the model for many of his early portraits, and also his business partner in opening the Minatoya shop in Tokyo that sold paper and textile accessories that he designed. Meanwhile, his next love, perhaps the greatest, was Hikono, 11 years his junior, who succumbed to TB at age 25. Yumeji portrayed his women in languid poses, curiously reminiscent of illustrations of the same era in the West. Another great love and model was Sasaki Kaneyo, whom he nicknamed "O-yô" (lit. 'Little leaf'); even in photographs she has the characteristically angular look of his paintings.

After recovering from the losses in the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923, Yumeji achieved considerable recognition, and travelled the world: to America in 1931, and on to Europe the next year. In 1933 he made a trip to Taiwan, but his health failed, and he died in a sanitorium in September 1934, at the early age of 51.

His real name was Takehisa Mojiro, the -jiro indicating him as second son; his adopted moniker Yumeji is literally "dream-second [son]".

Permanently unavailable
An Epoch puzzle: 1000 pieces; 50 x 75 cm (20" x 30")
Code: E11136 (11-136 on package)
Retail price ¥3000

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