Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)

Print: Third Princess from The Tale of Genji playing with her cat

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Dates: circa 1830,created
Dimensions: 9.75 in,28.5 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print
Inscription: Signed: Chōōrō Kuniyoshi ga
Publisher: Maruya Jinpachi (Marks 294 - seal 08-088)

Related links: Art Institute of Chicago - Buncho print of this same theme; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Harunobu example; Chazen Museum of Art - Koryūsai example;

Physical description:

A beauty in fabulous kimono pushes aside heavy drapery as she dangles a fluffy ball for a cat wearing a kerchief-collar.


"A pivotal moment in Tale of Genji... occurs when he young courtier Kashiwagi accidentally glimpses the Third Princess (Niyosan no Miya), Prince Genji's wife, and instantly falls passionately in love with her. The scene occurs in chapter 34, "New Herbs: Part One" (Wakana no Jō, at Prince Genji's mansion. Young courtiers, led by Kashiwagi and Yūgiri, are playing a kind of football (kemari) under blossoming cherry trees, while Genji watches from the verandah. Suddenly there is a commotion: a pet cat on a lead, chased by a larger cat, runs out onto the verandah, with ladies-in-waiting in pursuit. The cat's lead catches in one of the hanging blinds, pulling the blind aside just long enough for Kashiwagi to catch sight of the Third Princess standing inside the room. For such a high-ranking woman to allow herself to be seen by a man was a grave lapse of propriety, made even worse by the fact that she was standing rather than seated."

Quoted from: The Actor's Image: Print Makers of the Katsukawa School, #18, p. 84.