The Moon-Mad Monk, or Crazy Gazing at the Moon


Shown here is an illustrated anthology, in color, published in 1789 by Tsutaya Jūzaburō (1750−1797), a publisher of the Edo period (1600−1868). It contains 72 kyōka (humorous and satirical Japanese poems of 31 syllables) written about the moon and five pictures painted by the ukiyo-e artist Kitagawa Utamaro (circa 1753–1806). The title Kyōgetsubō (The moon-mad monk, or crazy gazing at the moon) means a man driven mad by the moon, but it is said to be a reference to the poet Gyōgetsubō (Reizei Tamemori 1265−1328), who is considered the founder of the line of kyōka poets. Ki no Sadamaru (1760–1841) selected the poems and wrote the preface. The pictures all show the moon. The first picture, Akashi, is a scene from Genji Monogatari (The tale of Genji) and depicts Lord Genji looking at the moon from Akashi Bay. The second picture depicts a woodcutter gazing at the moon from the top of a bridge in the ink painting style. The third picture shows tsukimi (moon-viewing) in Yoshiwara. The fourth picture shows the moon peeking out from the side of a mountain while a farming family works in the foreground. The fifth picture shows a palace in the moon. The order of the pictures varies according to the copy of the book. As Utamaro also painted pictures for two other books called Ginsekai (The silver world, about snow) and Fugen-zo (Statue of Fugen, about flowers), this book is considered to be part of a trilogy involving snow, the moon, and flowers. The front cover of this copy was added later, but the title label stuck on it is thought to be the original label. This volume is a first edition containing beautifully printed pictures.

Last updated: July 2, 2015