Moral Philosophy Illustrated for Children

(Shingaku osana etoki, 心学推絵時)

Publisher: Wakasa-ya Yoichi



The word “shingaku” in the series title refers to a form of neo-Confucianism particularly influential during the Edo period.  This series is listed as number 115 in Kuniyoshi by Basil William Robinson (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1961).  The prints in this series are each about 14 by 5 inches (36 by 13 centimeters), a size known as chûtanzakuban.  For a chûban series having the same title see Miscellaneous comic series.


Title: Hana kurabe

Moral lesson: Don’t be conceited

Description: An elephant catching a flying tengu in mid-air


NOTE: Tengu are forest-dwelling creatures that are either human-like with wings and long noses or bird-like.



Another state of the above design


Title: Oni no nenbutsu

Moral lesson: However bad you may be to start with, you can work you way up if you will go about like this little folk-art creature with a subscription-list and a drum calling upon the name of Buddha

Description: An oni with umbrella disguised as a priest begging for money


NOTE: Oni are demons with long nails, wild hair, two horns and a fierce expression.


The above print is actually an image of a folk painting of an oni.  These traditional folk paints were sold to travelers in Ôtsu, on Lake Biwa near Kyoto.  They are known as Ôtsu-e, and this is an example of one such painting.


Title: Neko to nezumi

Moral lesson: Even natural enemies can be friends

Description: A cat and a mouse sharing a meal


Title: Kanshin no matakuguri (韓信の股くぐり, The Humility of Kanshin)

Moral lesson: A lesson in forbearance

Description: Kanshin (Han Sin in Chinese) suffering the humiliation of crawling between the legs of ruffians


Title: Kami no megumi

Moral lesson: If we bless the Lord and respect parents we will get  money, home and a good job

Description: Ebisu, the god of good fortune


Title: Daikoku to Fukurokuju no sumô

Moral lesson: There is no victory in fighting

Description: Fukurokuju (the god of wisdom with an elongated head) and Jurojin (the god of longevity) wrestling


Title: Lust () and Desire () (Iro to yoku)

Moral lesson: ?

Description: Man with a balance


Another state of the above design


Title: Irori no nabe

Moral lesson: ?

Description: Old man cooking with a boy watching


Title: No Matter What You Do Someone Will Hear and Talk (Kabe ni mimi ari)

Moral lesson: No matter what you do, somebody will hear and talk

Description: A man with a big ear and a big mouth above him


Another state of the above design


Title: Falsehood and truth (Uso to makoto)

Moral lesson: Be truthful

Description: A peasant collapsing at the thought of truth personified.  The kanji in the face of the monk-like figure in pink is makoto (), meaning truth or sincerity, and the kanji in the faces of the small figures () means falsehood.


Information courtesy of Dr. Gerhard Bierwirth





This series of prints is unusual in that the series title, 心学推絵時, is written in different scripts—sometimes in a rectangular cartouche and sometimes without a cartouche.  Here are six examples of ways the title of this series may appear.