“Once upon a time, a very long time ago, when I was in a bathtub, I was having a very relaxing time with an old lady and an old lady from Mizunokawa River, but then the old lady was having a hard time trying to do my best.” The old woman asked the old woman for food, and the old woman said that the money was the same, but the money was the same. The old man and the old man, who are very close to each other, are going to take advantage of this man. If the old man is actually talking about you when he sees him, he is probably going to lie to him. But every four days, the old lady tried to call me, and when I was in bed, she kept getting stuck, so whenever I had to do that, she went to see who it was, and the old lady suddenly said, When I heard this, the old man realized that it was a big deal. But why did he go again? Even so, when he got there, he gave that thing to the old man and me. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to play in this way and the next day. Okina-san, who is in the middle of Asahina’s day, is in a hurry to keep up with everything. [Old man] Yes, but if it’s not too much for you to help Bonbu, then please come. I’ll do it like I’m going to do it. Don’t bite the dog like this when it’s too hot. Don’t bite the dog like this after three mouthfuls. Even when you’re here or at an old lady’s mouth, Let me have a feast, and give you some food. Give your grandmother as she pleases (to the left of Yuiba), and then I’ll bring you some hot chili peppers.”
Apparently that’s what the text says… but what it means is beyond me!
The neck-pulling game, Kubippiki, is a Japanese game of challenging the strength of a rival; the combatants try to pull away each other by a sloop around their necks. Here we have the God Inari and the Hag of Hell playing the game in front of an audience.
The Woodblock Print
This aiban-sized woodblock (8.5″x14.25″) is in fine condition for its age and scarcity; trimmed of its margins as is typical, but also trimmed unevenly and missing some of the bottom edge of the image. Unbacked and on very fine paper, an amazingly rare and bizarre image from 1849.
About the Artist
Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川 国芳, January 1, 1798 – April 14, 1861) was a Japanese artist who was active during the Edo period, from the late 18th to mid-19th century. He was born in 1797 in Edo, which is now Tokyo, and was the son of a silk-dyer. Kuniyoshi was known for his bold and dynamic ukiyo-e prints, which depicted a wide range of subjects, including historical scenes, kabuki actors, and mythical creatures.
Kuniyoshi began his artistic training as an apprentice in a print shop, where he learned to design and carve woodblocks. He later studied under the ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Toyokuni, who was a prominent figure in the Edo period. Kuniyoshi developed his own distinctive style, which was characterized by bold lines, vibrant colors, and exaggerated forms.
Kuniyoshi’s prints were highly popular during his lifetime, and he was considered one of the leading artists of the Edo period. His depictions of kabuki actors, in particular, were highly sought after by collectors, as they captured the essence of the dramatic performances that were popular in Japan at the time.
One of Kuniyoshi’s most famous series of prints is the “One Hundred and Eight Heroes of the Suikoden,” which depicts the exploits of a group of Chinese bandits. The series was highly influential and inspired other artists, including the French Impressionist Edgar Degas. Kuniyoshi also created prints that depicted historical events and legends, which were notable for their vivid colors and dynamic compositions.
Despite his success as an artist, Kuniyoshi faced challenges in his personal life. He was accused of producing prints that were critical of the shogunate, which led to him being placed under surveillance by the government. He was also deeply affected by the death of his son, which led to a decline in his health and artistic output.
Kuniyoshi died in 1861 at the age of 63, but his legacy lives on. His prints continue to be highly regarded for their technical skill and artistic merit, and they are housed in major art institutions around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the British Museum in London.