Russian Businessman Talking to Two Workmen Attempting to Repair a Damaged Russian Battleship


The Russo-Japanese War (1904–5) was documented in various forms of media, such as woodblock prints, photographs, and illustrations. The victories of the Japanese military in the early stages of the war inspired propaganda prints by Japanese artists. This print forms part of the series, Rokoku seibatsu senshō shōwa (The expeditionary war against Russia: tales of laughter). The illustrator is Utagawa Kokunimasa, also known as Baidō Bōsai or Utagawa Kunimasa V (1874–1944). The satirical writer Honekawa Dojin (pseudonym of Nishimori Takeki, 1862–1913) supplied each illustration with an accompanying humorous description. The series mocked the Russians for their perceived military weakness, conceit, and cowardice. The text has puns throughout that play on Chinese characters that indicate negative meanings, such as death and suffering, or names of battle locations. In this print, carpenters fixing a Russian navy ship complain that despite their efforts, the ships will be sunk anyway by the Japanese. At that very moment they are surprised by the sound of cannon shot.

Last updated: March 2, 2012