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Now on Show at Okuyama, Asakusa: Lifelike Dolls of
Foreign Strangers and the Maruyama Courtesans

Identifier: 1852-53 Kuniyoshi comic

"The area around Asakusa was one of the main venues for misemono (sideshows). In February 1855 a life-size display of dolls representing 'people from strange lands' was staged. They had abnormally long arms and legs, and holes in their chests not unlike people visited by the wandering Asahina... Made by Matsumoto Kisaburō from Kumamoto, the figures were essentially high quality papier-mâché on bamboo frames and were said to be astonishingly lifelike. Artists including Kuyiyoshi are known to have visited the spectacles and the prints portraying what they had seen were published a few months later - timed. no doubt, to profit from their popularity."

Quoted from: Japanese Popular Prints from Votive Slips to Playing Cards by Rebecca Salter, p. 35. (This entry is accompanied by a variant diptych by Kuniyoshi.)


The figure with the long arms is Tenaga (てなが) and the one with long legs is Ashinaga (あしなが). Click on the print and then enlarge it. Pay specific attention to the title cartouche with the white elephant in the upper right corner. Next to and behind the elephant is a man with an incredibly long tongue sticking out of his mouth. It hangs half-way down to his waist. At the elephant's long equally long tongue is a small seated or kneeling figure. Odd.


This print was also published by Izutaya Shokichi. The carver was probably Hori Shōji. His seal shows up in the print that forms a diptych with this one.

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