A carp in a fishing net and a wooden carving of a bullfinch used for the usokae (bullfinch exchange) festival at the Kameido Tenjin Shrine in Tokyo on the 25th day of the first month. In the background, mochi rice sweets strung on a willow branch (mochibana), a New Year's decoration. On the right, a vertical panel with the series title on a light blue border next to white plum blossoms and a Chinese poem. One kyōka poetry verse by Senkakudō Sakae. Signed Hokkei with a seal of collector Hayashi Tadamasa.
This print features plum blossoms, a traditional winter flower, and a wooden bullfinch toy, visible at lower-right, representative of the usokae, the “bullfinch exchange,” a ceremony that takes place each January, in which participants swap an old bullfinch toy for a new one at Shinto shrines. The word for bullfinch, “uso,” is a homophone for “lies,” so the ritual is meant to shed the falsehoods of the previous year, exchanging them for truth. If very lucky, one may receive a golden bullfinch, an auspicious sign for a prosperous and happy new year. The usokae became very popular in Edo starting around 1820.
- BB, ed., 2015
fish; fishing; branches; flowers; text; movement
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