Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)

Print: Sakata Kaidōmaru (坂田怪童丸) struggling with a giant carp under a waterfall

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Dates: circa 1836,created
Dimensions: 10.0 in,13.25 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print

Signed: Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga
Publisher: Kagaya Kichiemon
(Marks 195 - seal 22-025)
Censor's seal: kiwame

Related links: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; British Museum; Rijksmuseum; Rijksmuseum - key-block proof; Smith College; Ashmolean Museum, University of Oxford; Brooklyn Museum;

Physical description:

"Naked, red-bodied strong boy Kadō-maru wrestles under a waterfall with a giant carp. He is known as Kintarō and, as an adult warrior hero, as Sakata no Kintoki... White bubbles of foam dance through the design and a strikingly beautiful film of pale blue water passes over the carp's back. The inscription reads: 'Kadō-maru had no father and it is said he was born of the old woman of Mt Ashigara after she saw him pass by in a dream with a red dragon. His bravery was without match and he became a follower of [Minamoto no] Yorimitsu, taking the name Sakata no Kintoki. One of the so-called Four Heavenly Kings, his thunderous name resounded in all directions. After many exploits of military valour, he retired back to Mt Ashigara.' A slightly earlier, surimono version of the subject, by Hokkei, dates from the 1820s and appears to be the first example of a newly invented episode involving Kaidō-maru....

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam possesses a key-block proof of the design that once belonged tothe architect Frank Lloyd Wright. In it the bubbles are printed as black dots, so as to ensure that when colour blocks were cut from similar proofs the bubbles would be carved in exactly the correct shapes and positions..."

Qutoed from: Kuniyoshi from the Arthur R. Miller Collection by Timothy Clark, p. 61.


"This design has not only been reproduced in numerous books and catalogues, but has itself an interesting publication history. There are differing extant editions: the first has yellow in the cartouches... omitted. In a subsequent third edition, the censor (kiwame) and publisher seals are shown in a white cartouche. The first three editions were issued by Kagaya Kichibei; a fourth and even later editions was published by Ibaya Sensaburō."

Quoted from: Heroes and Ghosts by Robert Schaap, p. 51.


"This is one of the loveliest representations in printed technique of falling water, where the transparency of the water and the uprising sprays have been very successfully rendered."

Quoted from: Catalogue of the Collection of Japanese Prints Part IV - Hiroshige and the Utagawa School, Rijksprentkabinet/Rijksmuseum, 1984, no. 217a, p. 124. This is accompanied by a small black and white illustration.


Other literature:

Robinson, B.W., Kuniyoshi, The Warrior Prints, Oxford, Phaidon.

Illustrated in: 1) in color in Kuniyoshi by Juzo Suzuki, Heibonsha, Limited Publishers, 1992, no. 220.

2) in color in 歌川国芳展: 生誕200年記念 Utagawa Kuniyoshi: Exhibition to Commemorate the 200th Anniversary of his birth, 1996, #33, p. 52.

3) in black and white in Ukiyo-e to Shin hanga: The Art of Japanese Woodblock Prints, Mallard Press, 1990, p. 32. This is also accompanied by a key block print reproduction, also in black and white.