Comic Twelve Signs

(Dôke jû-ni-shi, 道外十二支)

Publisher: Edo-ya Matsugorô



This series is not listed in Kuniyoshi by Basil William Robinson (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1961).  The images are each about 10 by 7 inches (25 by 18 centimeters), a size known as chûban.  Two images were printed on a sheet of paper about 10 by 14 inches (25 by 36 centimeters), a size known as ôban.  I am grateful to Ward Pieters for assisting with this series.


Sign: Ox (Ushi)

Title: Oxen Eating Very Spicy Food (Karashi-kiki no ushi, からしききの牛)

Sign: Rat (Ne)

Title: Rats Worshipping Daikoku at the Day and Hour of the Rat (Kinoene no nezumi, 甲子の鼠)

Sign: Hare (U)

Title: Hares’ Dumpling Shop (Usagi no dangoya, 卯のだんごや)

Sign: Tiger (Tora)

Title: Tigers and the Snake-eye Sushi Sign (Janome-zushi no tora, 蛇の目ずしの寅)


NOTE: The tigers are frightened by the snake-eye trademark of the sushi shop because it resembles the family crest of the historical samurai Katô Kiyomasa (generally called “Masakiyo” or sometimes “Watônai” in prints) who was said to have killed a tiger (an animal not found in Japan) during the Japanese invasion of Korea in the 1590s.  Hares are associated with the full moon, and the round dumplings are moon-shaped.

Sign: Snake (Mi)

Description: Snake in the path of a blind man

Sign: Dragon (Tatsu)

Description: Dragons climbing a mountain (冨士こしの辰)

Sign: Goat (Hitsuji)   

Description: かみゆいどこ未

Sign: Horse (Uma)


Sign: Cock (Tori)

Description: 酉のふうふげんくは

Sign: Monkey (Saru)


Sign: Boar (I)


Sign: Dog (Inu)

Description: Dogs armed with sticks