Using the best quality papers, ink and gold leaf, 'Playing cards of Murasaki Shikibu’s Genji' is considered to be Utagawa Kunisada II’s most successful series. Evoking the Heian-period court game of shell matching, 'kai awase', each print in this series is identified by two shells, one of which bears the title and the other a 'Genji-mon', a crest corresponding to a chapter of the Tale.

In this series, Kunisada II relies heavily on the Genji images that his teacher and father-in-law, Kunisada, created for the illustrated book series 'Nise Murasaki inaka Genji', instead of merely transposing conventional iconography into a modern setting.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW.


  • Title: The bell cricket (Chapter 38)
  • Creator: Utagawa KUNISADA II
  • Date Created: 1857
  • Location: Japan
  • Physical Dimensions: 33.0 x 22.9 cm image; 33.3 x 23.7 cm sheet
  • Provenance: Mrs G.F. Williams
  • Type: Print
  • Rights: Gift of G F Williams 1995
  • External Link: https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/425.2001.3
  • Medium: woodblock print; ink and colour on paper
  • Signature & Date: Signed c.r., in Japanese, black ink "[Baichôrô Kunisada ga]". Not dated.
  • Artist Country: Japan

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps