Artist: Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾北斎)

Print: A Wheat Straw Crafted Spectacle (Mugiwara hari saiku shō utsushi: 麦藁細工見世物) -
the two right-hand panels of a four piece composition

Bookmark and Share
Dates: circa 1820,created
Dimensions: 20.0 in,15.0 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock prints

Censor's seal: kiwame

Related links: Tokyo National Museum - links to all four panels; Tokyo National Museum (keyblock prints); Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - far left panel of the tetraptych;

Physical description:

This unusual composition has something to do with the Zodiac (十二支). Six of the creatures of the Zodiac are illustrated here in their own separate plaques: hares, rats, tiger, oxen, dragon and snake.

According to the curatorial notes at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston this composition was published by Tsuruya Kiemon. They add: "The straw-work decorations were displayed at the Kinryūzan temple in Asakusa in the second month of 1820 (Bunsei 3)."


Hokusai design of a sage and his attendant surrounded by Japanese artworks in representation of the signs of the zodiac. The set of four zodiac prints is exceptionally rare.

complete tetraptych


Another possible inspiration for these prints can be found in the curatorial notes from the Metropolitan Museum regarding a series of prints by Kunisada and dated to 1819. The title of those prints is Basketry Work: By the Craftsman Ichida Shōshichirō of Naniwa (Kagozaiku Naniwa saikunin Ichida Shōshichirō - 籠細工 浪花細工人 一田庄七郎).

The Met notes state: "These prints on the theme of basket subjects by Kunisada were probably designed in autumn 1819, when an exhibition of basketry was held in the Ryōgoku district of Edo (present-day Tokyo). This exhibition also included a giant figure of Shutendōji (Drunken Boy Demon), which was portrayed in a Hiroshige triptych." (JSV)



1) in color in 原色浮世絵大百科事典 (Genshoku Ukiyoe Daihyakka Jiten), vol. 4, p. 68. Only the three left-hand panels are shown here.

2) in color, the two left panels only, in 北斎美術館 (Hokusai bijutsukan or Hokusai Museum of Art), vol. 1, pp. 74-75.