Artist: Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国)

Print: The Syllable Mi(み)for Sunset Glow on the Water Seller from the Eight Views (Mizu-uri no sekishō - みづうりの夕照 - hakkei no uchi - 八景のうち)  

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Dates: 1856,created
Dimensions: 9.75 in,14.25 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print

Signed: Toyokuni ga (豊国画)
Publisher: Tsujiya Yasubei (Marks 550 - seal 25-418)
Date seal: 8/1856
Censor seal: aratame

Related links: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Waseda University - with a reddish ground behind the figure of the water seller; Edo Tokyo Museum; National Diet Library; Kabuki-za.com - description in Japanese only; Art and Design Library, Edinburgh ; Lyon Collection - another print from this series;Hankyu Culture Foundation;

Physical description:

The lower part of this print shows Kawarazaki Gonjūrō I (初代河原崎権十郎) as a water seller (mizu-uri) from the series Seven Calligraphic Models for Each Character in the Kana Syllabary.


A whole essay could be written about the beauty, design and symbolism of this print. Created late in Kunisada's career, just ten years before his death, it belies the belief that his late works were weaker than his early ones. Most obvious are the gorgeous carp images both on his robe, but also the golden carp leaping up the waterfall to that fellow's right - our left. But there is more: click on the print so you can see a larger magnification of it and you will notice that above the signature cartouche on the right side is a picture of a lion gamboling among peonies. What is that about? We don't know, but hope to one day. Stay tuned. (JSV)