Meiji Dignitaries


These nishiki-e (multicolored woodblock prints) of Meiji dignitaries are by Yamazaki Toshinobu (1857–86). They are group portraits of members of the early Meiji government, formed when imperial government resumed in Japan in 1868 after the Tokugawa shogunate. Most of the figures depicted were statesmen important to the Meiji Restoration, such as Sanjō Sanetomi (seen at rear right in the center panel), Iwakura Tomomi (rear left in right-hand panel), Kido Takayoshi (rear right in left-hand panel), and Ōkubo Toshimichi (front left in left-hand panel). The portrait of each personage is accompanied by his name and position. The political organization of the early Meiji government adopted the Dajōkan (Council of State) system, with a view toward the establishment of a parliamentary-style structure. The broad outlines of the Dajōkan system took shape in 1871 (Meiji 4). Although it underwent several administrative reforms, Dajōkan persisted until the cabinet system was established in 1885 (Meiji 18). Toshinobu created these prints in 1877.

Last updated: January 8, 2018