Anthropomorphized Octopuses for the 53 Stations of the Tôkaidô

(Tako-no-nyűdô Gojűsan-tsugi, 蛸の入道五拾三次)

Publisher: Undetermined

c. 1840-1842

 

The title of this series “Anthropomorphized Octopuses for the 53 Stations of the Tôkaidô” (Tako-no-nyűdô Gojűsan-tsugi, 蛸の入道五拾三次) is a pun on “Octopus priest” (Tako-no-nyűdô, 東海道五十三次), a term used for octopuses because of their supposed resemblance to bald headed men.  Some of the prints have elements composed of a sweet potato leaves.  According to Japanese folklore, octopuses love sweet potato and leave the water at night to roam the fields and steal them.  This series is not listed in Kuniyoshi by Basil William Robinson (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1961).  The images are each about 7 by 10 inches (18 by 25 centimeters), a size known as chűban.  Two images were printed on a sheet of paper about 14 by 10 inches (36 by 25 centimeters), a size known as ôban.  I am grateful to Robert Pryor for his contributions of images and information to this series.

 

 

Stations: Nihonbashi (日本橋, top) and Kanagawa (神奈川, bottom)

Publisher’s seal: San kin han (㊂錦半󠄁)

 

 

 

 

Publisher’s seal: San ()

 

 

Stations: Shinagawa (品川, top) and Kawasaki (川崎, bottom)

Publisher’s seal: San han (㊂板)

 

            

“Robinson” refers to listing in Kuniyoshi by Basil William Robinson, 1961, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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