Utagawa Hiroshige, A Shoal of Fish

Utagawa Hiroshige, 1797-1858

A Shoal of Fish: Abalone, Needlefish (Halfbeak) and Peach Blossoms
(Uo-zukushi: Awabi, Sayori, Momo)

from an untitled series; signed at lower right, (Ichi)ryusai Hiroshige ga, with censor's seal Kiwame and publisher's seal Eijudo (Nishimuraya Yohachi), ca. 1832-3

oban yoko-e 10 by 14 5/8 in., 25.5 by 37.3 cm

This untitled series was published in two groups. The first ten were published by Eijudo (Nishimura Yohachi, dates) around 1832. The next ten came as much as ten years later and were published by Marujin (Maruya Jimpachi) and Kinkyodo (Yamadaya Shobei). The kyoka poems were provided by members of the poetry group Kyokashi. The selection of fish and blossoms establish the month of May, while the poems alludes to the season of spring.

On rocks and sand and rinsing waves
the jewel, abalone, polishes itself
The kimono lining comes out
now that spring is here
and the sayori fish is cleaned for
a springtime feast
I would love to be transformed
into a creature thin enough
to follow the abalone
into the cracks of rocks

References:
Bryan Holme, Hiroshige: A Shoal of Fishes, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1980 (poem translation Ellen Cary and Sally Fisher)
Richard Kruml, Hiroshige: A Shoal of Red Herrings: The Large Fish Series, in Andon 49, Society of Japanese Arts, October 1994, pp. 17-19, nos. 6a-6f
Andreas Marks, Publishers of Japanese Woodblock Prints: A Compendium, 2011

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