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"Tori Awase (雞合) - Goban migi (五番右), Midare Dori" - with a poem is by Sekiya Satomoto (関屋里元)

Identifier: 1830c Kunisada surimono

There is another copy of this print at the Fitzwilliam Museum. Their curatorial files note:

From the series of fifteen Spring kyoka surimono entitled Tori-awase (A contest of fowls), commissioned by the Taiko poetry group for the year of the cock. The series involved pictorial puns on the name of varieties of birds. It was unusual in that it consisted of six pairs of prints (right and left) designed by Shinsai and Kunisada, and a triptych by Hokkei. The pair to this print has not been identified. 'Mixed cock-crows' (midare-dori) was a poetic term expressing a time late in the dawn; it is also the title on the cover of the Meriyasu keiko-bon (instruction manual for popular ballads) which the young girl is using for her shamisen lesson. She is dressed up in a new kimono and with her hair arranged for the first music lesson of the New Year. Music was often taught by female instructors, particularly popular music."


The term tori awase is a reference to a cock fight, indicating that this surimono was produced for the Year of the Cock. The young girl playing the samisen is performing the song Midaetori or 'various crowing cocks'.

While we don't as yet have a translation of Satomoto's poem we might find a clue in the blue and white hand towel thrown over the top of the low screen behind the woman. It shows the motif of flying sparrows and bamboo (takesuzume - 竹雀), a common theme in Japanese art and culture. The screen is decorated with a flowering plum or prunus, a symbol of spring.


Sekiya Satomoto was active in the early 19th century. We know that he was from Senjū, to the northeast of Edo. He was known to have commissioned particular surimono and to have provided some of the poems on them. The artist included Kiitsu and Kuniyoshi, too.

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Tori Awase (雞合) - Goban migi (五番右), Midare Dori" - with a poem is by Sekiya Satomoto (関屋里元) ">