Genji Viewing Snow From a Balcony

Toyohara Kunichika1867

Museums Victoria

Museums Victoria
Carlton, Australia

This woodblock print depicts Prince Genji dining while viewing falling snow from a river side balcony. It wasproduced by the Japanese woodblock artist Toyohara Kunichika, carved by Hori-ei and published by Kiya Sojiro in Tokyo, Japan, in July 1867. It is possibly the central panel of an original triptych; a work of art comprised of three distinct panels.The scene is a Genji-e or Mitate-e; a parody illustration of the original Genji story. A popular subject for many Japanese print artists in the nineteenth century, 'The Tale of Genji', the classical Japanese novel by Lady Murasaki Shikibu of the late Heian period (794-1185 AD), detailed the lengthy, often complex love adventures of the novel's central character, Prince Genji. The story spawned many parodies, illustrations of which were also prevalent and often termed mitate-e.In this image, Genji sits centrally in the image with plates of food and tea around him, while looking out from an elevated balcony through falling snow to a small village by the edge of a river or lake. Although no other figures are present in this panel, it is possible that - if the work is the central panel of an original triptych - Genji's attendants would have featured in the side panels. A similar scene depicting Genji with his attendants looking across a snow-covered landscape was created by Kunichija's master, Toyokuni III.


  • Title: Genji Viewing Snow From a Balcony
  • Creator: Toyohara Kunichika
  • Date Created: 1867
  • Physical Dimensions: w259 x h370 mm
  • Type: Object
  • Rights: Copyright expired, Source: Museum Victoria / Artist: Toyohara Kunichika, Copyright expired, Source: Museum Victoria / Artist: Toyohara Kunichika
  • External Link: Museum Victoria Collections
  • Medium: Print; Ink on Paper
  • Themes: prints, Japanese Art
  • Artist biography: Toyohara Kunichika (born Oshima Yasohachi) became a pupil of a Ukiyo-e master Chikanobu at the age of 11 or 12, and at the age of 13 became an apprentice to Utagawa Kunisada. Kunichika's favourite subjects were Kabuki actors and scenes from popular plays of the time.In 1867, one year before the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Kunichika received an official commission from the government of Japan to contribute to that year's Universelle Exposition in Paris. His prints were also exhibited at the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition and the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago.
  • Artist: Toyohara Kunichika

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