Kanagaki Robun

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Kanagaki Robun
仮名垣 魯文
Born(1829-02-09)9 February 1829
Died8 November 1894(1894-11-08) (aged 65)
Other namesNozaki Bunzō (野崎 文蔵)
Alma materHanagasa Bunkyō (master)
OccupationJournalist, writer, novelist
EmployerWorked for Kanagawa Prefectural Government, Yokohama Mainichi Shimbun

Kanagaki Robun (仮名垣 魯文) was the pen name of Nozaki Bunzō (野崎 文蔵) (1829–1894), a Japanese author and journalist.


Kanagaki Robun, the son of a fishmonger,[1] was originally known for light fiction in the gesaku genre. He is said to have met painter Kawanabe Kyosai while writing an account of the 1855 Edo earthquake on the day after it happened. Kyosai's sketch of a catfish, accompanying Robun's text, was Kyosai's first single-sheet ukiyo-e woodblock print. Its commercial success saw Robun producing a sequence of catfish pictures (known as namazu-e).[2] In 1874 the pair collaborated to create what was effectively Japan's first manga magazine, Eshinbun nipponchi (Illustrated News).[1]

In 1874 Robun turned to journalism, joining the Yokohama mainichi shinbun and going on in 1875 to found his own newspaper, the Kana-yomi shinbun (Kana Newspaper). His newspaper pioneered the genre of "dokufu-mono," criminal biographies of female outlaws, and Kanagaki Robun's own Tale of Takahashi Oden the She-Devil (written rapidly after Takahashi Oden was beheaded for killing a man) is the most famous example of the genre.[3]

He also wrote illustrated biographies, including an adapted biography of Ulysses S. Grant published for Grant's 1879 visit to Japan.[4]


  • Ansei fūbunshū, 1856
  • Ansei korori ryūkōki, 1856
  • Hanagoromo kitsune no sōshi, 1863
  • Seiyō dōchū hizakurige (Shank's Mare to the Western Seas), 1870–76
  • Aguranabe (The Beef Eater), 1871.
  • Kyurisukai (The Cucumber Messenger), 1872
  • Sekai miyakoji shusho eiri (Roads to the world's capitals), 1872
  • Seiyo ryoritsu (Connoisseur of Western-style cooking), 1872
  • Saga denshinroku, 1874
  • Genkon Shina jijō, 1875
  • 'Seiyo kabuki Hamuretto' (Hamlet: a Western Kabuki), Hiragana eiri Shinbun (Illustrated hiragana newspaper), 1875
  • Takahashi Oden yasha monogatari (The Tale of Takahashi Oden the She-Devil), 1879
  • Inaba kozō settō shinwa, 1883
  • Hamuretto Yamato Nishikie (Hamlet), 1886


  1. ^ a b Peter Duus (2013). "'Punch Pictures': Localising Punch in Edo Japan". In Hans Harder; Barbara Mittler (eds.). Asian Punches: A Transcultural Affair. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 319. ISBN 978-3-642-28607-0.
  2. ^ Hiroshi Nara (2007). Inexorable Modernity: Japan's Grappling with Modernity in the Arts. Lexington Books. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-7391-5637-7.
  3. ^ Mark Silver (2008). Purloined Letters: Cultural Borrowing and Japanese Crime Literature, 1868-1937. University of Hawaii Press. pp. 30–32. ISBN 978-0-8248-3188-2.
  4. ^ Scott J. Miller (2009). Historical Dictionary of Modern Japanese Literature and Theater. Scarecrow Press. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-8108-6319-4.