Modern Comparisons of Actors and Flowers: Iwai Kumesaburō III as Servant Ohatsu (Garden Kerria)

Accession Number

Modern Comparisons of Actors and Flowers: Iwai Kumesaburō III as Servant Ohatsu (Garden Kerria)

Utagawa Kunisada

Artist Nationality
Japanese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
woodblock print on paper

13 3/4 in x 9 7/16 in (35 cm x 24 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. James Hayes

Subject matter

Modern Comparison of Actors and Flowers: Iwai Kumesaburō III as servant Ohatsu (Garden Kerria)

Actor Iwai Kumesaburō III, was also known as Iwai Hanshirō VIII. He was born in 1829 and active from the time he was a child in the early 1830s. He became famous for his performances as an onnagata, a word which means "female role" or "female form." He died in 1882.

This is from a set of thirty-six.  Like in many series printed in the Edo period, the use of thirty-six comparisons references the thirty-six poet immortals--a reference explicitly shown in Kunisada’s series Actors compared with the 36 Poetic Immortals (also on display in this exhibition). The poet immortals were a set of illustrious historical figures prized for their poetic ability.  Not only were these popular actors recognizably depicted for fan consumption through these prints, but they were associated both with the poet immortals and specific flowers, each of which had special meanings in Edo society. Such layered meanings are hallmarks of mitate (literally meaning look and compare) prints.

Physical Description
In this print a woman draws a sword while looking off to her left. She wears a robe of many different colors and patterns. Her hair is pulled back simply. The background is blue with a white cartouche near the top, decorated with flowers. 
Tōsei mitate sanjūrokkasen; Artist's signature: Yoyokuni ga; Publisher's seal: Yorozuchō, hiranoya; Censors' seal: tori 9, aratame

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
actors (performing artists)
flower (motif)

3 Related Resources

Kabuki Images
(Part of 10 Learning Collections)
"Japan", Gender, etc.
(Part of: body, physicality and form; mod/contemporary religious imagery (Asia Galleries Winter 2022 DRAFT))

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted