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Loan Object
Artist: Totoya Hokkei, Japanese, 1780–1850

Kintarō Struggling with the Giant Carp (Kintarō to Koi)

probably 1820 (Year of the Dragon)

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

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.

On view
Edo period (1615–1868)
Works on Paper - Prints

Collection of Virginia Shawan Drosten and Patrick Kenadjian.


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.

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.

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 such records is ongoing.