Kikukawa Eizan, 'Geisha Playing the Hand-Game Kitsune-ken'

Kikukawa Eizan, 'Geisha Playing the Hand-Game Kitsune-ken'

Kikukawa Eizan (1790-1848)
'Geisha Playing the Hand-Game Kitsune-ken'
About 1820
Bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women)
Nishiki-e (brocade print)
Triptych, three ôban-size sheets
Signature: Kikukawa Eizan hitsu
Unidentified publisher's mark
Censorship seal: Kiwame
Museum no. E.13307-1886

This print by Eizan, one of the masters of the bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women) genre in the 1820s and 1830s, shows three geisha playing a game called kitsune-ken.

The game was played with the hands rather like 'scissors - paper - stone': a fox (kitsune) was formed by raising both hands and imitating a fox's ears, as shown in the middle sheet; a village headman was made by placing both hands on the knees, as shown in the left hand sheet; and a gun was made by extending both arms as though shooting a gun, as shown in the right-hand sheet.

The fox beats the headman, the headman beats the gun, and the gun beats the fox. A sake container is placed in the centre, and to the right is a sake cup; the person who loses a game has to take a drink as a forfeit. In the room behind the three women, a party is in full swing, as shown by the shadows of the dancing revellers on the sliding paper doors.


This print can be found in Japanese Print Room Box JP2.