Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)

Print: Ken Practice (Ken no keiko - けんのけいこ) from the play Norikake Soga dōchū sugoroku (飾駒曽我通双六)

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Dates: 1847,created
Dimensions: 9.75 in,14.25 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print

Artist: Unsigned but probably Kuniyoshi

Publisher: Man (Marks U179 - seal 15-140)
Censor seals - Mera and Murata

Related links: Shizuoka Prefectural Central Library;

Physical description:

Title: Ken Exercises (Ken no keiko)

This print is unsigned. The frog, fox, and tiger are believed to represent the kabuki actors Nakamura Utaemon IV, Matsumoto Kōshirō VI, and Ichikawa Kuzō II, respectively.

Prints depicting the game of ken are called ken no e. Ken was often played as a drinking game and was incorporated into several kabuki plays as a dance. After the imposition of a ban on actor prints in 1842, Kuniyoshi produced numerous humorous designs with thinly disguised actors’ portraits as animals or other creatures playing ken.

Additional information may be found in the article: Linhart, Sepp, Kuniyoshi’s Ken Caricatures between 1847 and 1853, Andon, Vol. 83, 2008, pp. 5-29.