Right-hand sheet of a triptych of polychrome woodblock prints; ink and color on paper
12 3/8 x 5 3/8 in. (31.4 x 13.7 cm)
Fletcher Fund, 1929
Not on view
In the right-hand section of this triptych the actor Nakamura Tomijūrō stands in front of a koto. A cherry tree blossoms outside. The palindrome above reads:
Kishihi koso matsu ka mikiwa ni koto no ne no toko ni wa kimi ka tsuma zo kohishiki
As in times past, waiting, the pine on the shore, true as the sound of a koto's strings you are as dear to me as a wife.
This triptych of three famous onnagata Kabuki actors, each posed representing one of the major cities in Japan, cities that were centers of merchant culture, is a tour de force of work and image play. The poems at the top of each sheet are palidromes, poems that read the same forward and backward. The actors are paired with a domestic object that puns or alludes to the more idealized imagery of the poem: the smoke from an incense burner with that of a spring mist; the treasure boat in a New Year's print with distant boats on the waves; and the koto with a reference to the pure sound of the instrument.
Signature: Suzuki Harunobu ga
Frederick E. Church , New York (until 1929; sold to MMA).