The hare (or rabbit) is a common figure in Japanese folklore, as well as being one of the twelve animals in the Chinese cycle of years. The hare is most frequently depicted in the moon pounding rice with a pestle to make rice cakes. This is because the Japanese words for rice-pounding and for full moon are both pronounced 'mochizuki'.Where Western cultures see the outline of a face in the moon, the Japanese see a rabbit, and at the harvest season and its festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month prints and figurines of the hare in the moon are regularly encountered.
Surimono were prints issued in special, limited editions for the enjoyment of a close circle of friends and associates. Frequently, as here, their production was a collaborative effort with members of a group of poets each contributing a verse to record an event or express their sentiments regarding the changing seasons. There are seventeen poems printed on this work.
Go Shun (1752-1811) was one of the greatest painters of the late Edo period, and also a skilled poet and calligrapher. He founded the Shijō school of Kyoto, which tried to combine the realism displayed by Maruyama ōkyo (1733-95) with the idealism of the Chinese-style literati school. The Shijō school had a very strong influence on Japanese art in the nineteenth century.