The game of ken

Ken () is a game played with the hands, similar to rock-paper-scissors.  Prints depicting the game of ken are called ken no e (拳の絵).  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 objects playing ken.  Additional information about these prints may be found in the article: Linhart, Sepp, Kuniyoshi’s Ken Caricatures between 1847 and 1853, Andon, Vol. 83, 2008, pp. 5-29. 

 

Actors playing the game of ken 

Miscellaneous prints of the game of ken

 

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