Kobayashi Kiyochika's War Stories

Kobayashi Kiyochika mastered woodblock printing and added elements of the most modern printing techniques and influences from photography, copperplate printing and oil painting to create one of the most contemporary-looking "graphic novels" I've ever seen. He did this...in the 1890s. 

Early in his career, he became the first to master painting the night sky and perfectly captured the modernization of Tokyo in the 1870s and '80s. When the First Sino-Japanese War broke out between his Meiji Japan and Qing Dynasty China in the mid-1890s, he printed up the battles and victories in mind-boggling detail. The Smithsonian's Freer-Sackler Gallery in Washington, DC has all the war tryptics; these images are from there and Google Art Project.

Sakuma, Chief of the Second Legion, 1895

Our Fleet Bombards the Enemy at Talien Bay, c. 1894

The Heroic Commander Hirose, 1904

Imperial Arrival at Shimbashi Station on Triumphal Return from Hiroshima, 1895

Landing at Yeijo Bay, 1895

Our Forces Sink a Chinese Warship in the Yellow Sea, 1894

Illustration of the Attack and Occupation of Tianzhuangtai, 1895

Fierce Battle of Gasan, Attacking Across the Anjo River, 1894

The Japanese Army at Weiheiwei, 1895

The Fall of Chinchow Fort, 1984

Our Elite Forces Capturing the Hoko Islands of Taiwan, 1894

Our Forces Occupy Ryuko Island, 1895

A very Marcel Dzama-looking one: Photographing our Troops Fighting in the Fortress Town, Ninzhuang, 1895

Braving the Snow, Our Troops Capture the Stronghold at Weihaiwei, 1895

Total Occupation of the Hoko Islands, 1895

Landing on Formosa at Midnight, 1895

Naval Battle of Ryojun, 1895


Lieutenant General Yamaji Leading the Second Army on its Landing on the Kinshu Peninsula, November 1894

Negotiations with Peach Envoy Ri Rosyo, 1895