Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)

Print: Karuizawa (輕井澤): Kamata Matahachi (鎌田又八) from the series Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaidō Road (Kisokaidō rokujūkyū tsugi no uchi - 木曾街道六十九次之内)

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Dates: 1852,created
Dimensions: 14.5 in,10.0 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print

Signed: Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga
Artist's seal: kiri
Publisher: Takadaya Takezō
(Marks 509 - seal 07-038)
Censor seals: Mera and Watanabe
Date seal: 7/1852
Number 19 (十九)

Related links: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; British Museum; Waseda University; Honolulu Museum of Art; Rijksmuseum; Hiroshige Museum of Art; Musée Cernuschi; Tokyo Metropolitan Library;

Physical description:

"Kamata Matahachi (sometimes called Kamado Matahachi) was renowned for his great strength. As this print illustrates, he was so powerful that he could lift one of the huge pillars of a Buddhist temple far enough to slip a straw sandal under it -and then lift the pillar again to remove the sandal. The series title border is decorated with Buddhist symbols, and the inset landscape is in the shape of a large incense burner of the kind that might be found in a temple. A flock of pigeons flies past as Matahachi performs his feat; perhaps they have been disturbed by the shifting of the pillar.

Matahachi appears in a number of popular books, but he seems to be a completely fictional character. The earliest known mention of him is a picture book of the kurohon type published in 1769, Kamata Matahachi Defeats the Monsters (Kamata Matahachi bakemono taiji). This scene is from Oroku Combs and Revenge in Kiso (Oroku-gushi Kiso no adauchi: taiji)... a novel by Santō Kyōden, published in 1807 with illustrations by none other than Kuniyoshi's teacher, Utagawa Toyokuni. The frontispiece shows 'Kamado Matahachi' with the sandal and the pillar, the temple lanterns hanging overhead just as in Kuniyoshi's rendition of the scene."

Quoted from: Utagawa Kuniyoshi: The Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaidō by Sarah E. Thompson, p. 54. There is a full-page colored illustration on p. 55.


Illustrated with text and a small black and white reproduction in Catalogue of the Collection of Japanese Prints Part IV - Hiroshige and the Utagawa School, Rijksprentkabinet/Rijksmuseum, 1984, no. 230, p. 132.