Fashionable Cat Frolics

(Ryk neko no tawamure, 流行猫の戯)

Publisher: Yamamoto-ya Heikichi



This series of unknown size shows actors as cats. Kuniyoshi was especially fond of cats and inserted them in many of his prints. This series is listed as number 197 in Kuniyoshi by Basil William Robinson (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1961). The prints in this series are each about 14 by 10 inches (36 by 25 centimeters), a size known as ban.



Title: Michiyuki neko yanagi sakari no tsukikage




Title: The Scene in which the Insult with a Sandal Serves as a Perfect Trap (Kagamiyana zri haji no dan, かゞみやな 草履恥の段)

Description: Cats reenacting the kabuki scene in which Iwafuji strikes Onoe with her zri sandal. In this print, an abalone shell replaces the sandal. The kimono are labelled with names Onoe (尾の上) and Iwabuchi (岩ぶち), a pun, as buchi means a bicolored cat.



Title: Umegae mugen no mane (梅が枝無間の真似)

Description: A parody (mitate) of a scene in the fourth act of the kabuki play, Simple Chronicle of the Fortunes of the Heike and Genji (Hiragana seisuiki). In the play, Genta Kagesue strikes a stone water basin and is showered with gold coins, which are thrown by his concealed mother.



Title: Tamoto funki kogoto zeme no dan



Title: Oshun Denbei Mi no kusasa sakari no irodoki

Description: Two cats representing kabuki actors Nakamura Utaemon IV and Onoe Baik as the lovers Denpei and Oshun. The object in the right lower corner is a mirror on a stand.



The cartouche in this series is in the form of a gold coin, or a form of money intermediate between a coin and an ingot. Pictured to the left is an ban from 1592 (in the Tensho period). It is 74% gold. The small denomination in this shape is called a koban. The terms ban and koban are also used for large and small ukiyo-e prints, respectively.