Surimono Featuring other Supernaturals

Surimono Featuring other Supernaturals

These include Rochisin Uprooting a Willow Tree, Shoki the Demon Queller, the Goddess of the Moon and Goddess Benten. Surinomo are inscribed with a class of poems termed Kyoka written in Edo and often self-consciously presenting a humorous sensibility characteristic of a developing urban space, in contrast with the classically inflected poetry of Kyoto [more on Kyoka].

The giant Rochinsin (Chinese: Lu Chih-shen) was one of the 108 heroes of the classic Chinese novel, The Water Mark. He was also known by his nickname Ka Osho or the ‘Cherry Blossom Bonze” because of the cherry blossom tatoo on his back and shoulders. Here he is depicted uprooting a tree. This surimono belongs to Hokkei’s series The Five Elements which are wood, fire, earth, metal and water. The element represented here is wood.


Kyoka are 31 syllable (5-7-5-7-7) humorous poems associated with surimono. They came to prominence in Edo as “anti-poems” or “throw-away poems” satirizing the classical culture of Kyoto-based waka poetry.

The surimono featuring Benten by Gakutei has 2 kyoka poems by Fukunoya Uchinari, whose real name was Fujii Kanjiro. He was a Kyoka poet of the late Edo period. He published a book of kyoka poems, "Kyoka Setsugekka" in 1830.

Asahi sasu
niwa no shooji no
ryuu no kagemiru
hitoeda no ume, Rokujyuen

On the paper screen in the morning light, / the shadow of a branch from a plum tree in the yard,/ It looks like a dragon flying in the sky among the clouds.

Ume ga e no
katachidani dete
ryuu ni niru
to yoni tsukamitaru
aratama no haru

Celebrate the New Year,
With a branch of plum,
It resembles a dragon,
climbing the sky with a jewel in its paw.

(Decipherment: Prof. Toshiharu Kawachi, Chairman, Graduate School of Literature, Professor of Calligraphy at Daito Bunka University. Translation: Prof. Ritsuko Hirai Toner, Chairman, Japanese Language Studies, Pasadena City College.)