Kintarō Struggling with the Giant Carp (Kintarō to Koi) Artist: Totoya Hokkei (Japanese, 1780–1850)

probably 1820 (Year of the Dragon)

Asian Art

魚屋北渓 金太郎と鯉 江戸時代

Physically powerful individuals of both genders are held in high esteem in many cultures, and Japan is no exception. Stories of strong male children, who had a legal claim to property and other rights that women did not have, appear in numerous historical tales. In this surimono, the boy Kintarō holds a huge, wildly flipping black carp. According to a Chinese legend, a carp able to climb the rapids at Longmen in the Yellow River will rise up to become a dragon. Well known in Japan, the story alludes, in fact, to passing the highest civil examination in Chinese society and portrays great success.


Surimono, shikishi-ban; polychrome woodblock print with gold and silver pigment and gauffrage


sheet: 8 7/16 × 7 1/2 in. (21.5 × 19 cm)

Credit Line

Promised gift of Virginia Shawan Drosten and Patrick Kenadjian, B.A. 1970

Loan number



Edo period (1615–1868)


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Joan B. Mirviss (dealer), New York; sold to Virginia Shawan Drosten and Patrick Kenadjian, Koenigstein im Taunus, Germany, 1998 (on loan to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 2017–present)
  • Sadako Ohki and Adam Haliburton, The Private World of Surimono: Japanese Prints from the Virginia Shawan Drosten and Patrick Kenadjian Collection (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2020), 96–97, no. 22, ill
  • Joan B. Mirviss and John T. Carpenter, Jewels of Japanese Printmaking: Surimono of the Bunka-Bunsei Era 1804–1830 (Tokyo: Ota Memorial Museum of Art, 2000), 82–83, no. 34
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

color woodcuts, surimono


Atsumono ni\r\nNaru chô koi no\r\nOdorebaya\r\nKaze ni sosogeru\r\nAoyagi no kami\r\n\r\n--Makes a good soup, \r\nSo they say about a carp,\r\nAs it leaps wildly about,\r\nWhile the tresses of a willow\r\nAre tousled in the wind. Shibaen Morisuna\r\n\r\nReference: Ota p. 82 ( 34), translation by John T. Carpenter\r\n\r\nあつものに なるてふ鯉の をとれはや\r\n風にそゝける 青柳の髪           司馬園盛砂\r\n\r\nAtsumono ni\r\nNaru chô koi no\r\nOdorebaya\r\nKaze ni sosogeru\r\nAoyagi no kami\r\n\r\n\r\n


Poet: Shiba'en Morisuna (SO 9-26-17) 司馬園 盛砂

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