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The dolphin-like kinshachi (金鯱) atop Nagoya Castle at sunset (or sunrise)

Identifier: 1790-1810c Sori surimono

Sōri is one of Hokusai's early names used in the 1790s.


In the Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan (vol. 5, p. 309) it says of Nagoya Castle that "The five-storied donjon was destroyed during World War II, but its exterior has since been reconstructed. Also reconstructed were replicas of its pair of famous golden shachi (dolphinlike sea creatures), almost 3 meters (10 ft.) high and covered with gold scales, which now decorate the gable roof ends of the new ferroconcrete main keep."

This creature was placed on other rooftops, but this particular golden one is called the kinshachi (金鯱 or きんしゃち).

Many dictionaries refer to this kanji character as a shachihoko (しゃちほこ) or "fabulous dolphin-like fish". Jim Breen gives it as 鯱鉾 a "mythical carp with the head of a lion and the body of a fish" which is an auspicious symbol of protection and well-being.

A large kinshachi was displayed at the Vienna International Exhibition in 1873 and proved to be an enormous success. (Source: Modern Japanese Art and the Meiji State: The Politics of Beauty by Doshin Sato, p. 111.

This information is taken directly from printsofjapan.com.

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