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 Prints and Drawings Study Room box TOPIC JP2.