Kuniyoshi 国芳: Station Karuizawa 輕井澤-The strongman Kamata Matahachi
Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861)
Title: Station Karuizawa 輕井澤--The strongman Kamata Matahachi
Series: Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaidô Road 木曾街道六十九次之内
We see the strongman Kamata Matahachi in the process of his most celebrated feat of strength; he is lifting up one of the giant pillars that support the roof of this Buddhist temple in order to put a sandal beneath it. He later lifts the pillar again to remove the sandal. A flock of pigeons has been disturbed by the movement of the roof and are seen flying down. We see the red lanterns of the temple behind him as well as a large pot for offering incense, as well as incense sticks burning on the wooden table. According to Sarah Thompson, Matahachi was a fictional character who first appeared in a kurohon book in 1769 wherein he defeated a host of monsters. As one does when exhibiting superhuman strength, the hero has stripped to the waist and we see a muscled leg bracing his foot against the floor. The bright orange lanterns feature a lead pigment that has gently oxidized, imitating the buildup of soot that one might see in such a location. The scene of Station Matahachi is set within a cartouche that is in the shape of a large (temple) incense holder.
Condition: Excellent impression and color. Very good condition. Minor binding holes at left.
Dimensions: ôban (36 x 24.4 cm)
Publisher: Takedaya Takezô
Literature: See Sarah Thompson’s “The Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaidô”, figure 19, page 54. See MFA, British Museum. Robinson S74.19.
Signature: Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi ga