Pounding Rice for Mochi

Maker(s)
Artist: Katsushika Hokusai 葛飾北斎 (1760-1849)
Inscription: Momomoto Hinamaro 桃本雛麻呂 (1764-1830)
Historical period(s)
Edo period, ca. 1822
Medium
Ink and color on silk
Dimensions
H x W (image): 54.4 x 85 cm (21 7/16 x 33 7/16 in)
Geography
Japan
Credit Line
Gift of Lawrence and Sonia Klein
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1992.24
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Painting
Type

Hanging scroll

Keywords
Edo period (1615 - 1868), Japan, rice, ukiyo-e, work, WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Label

Pounding rice for mochi (rice cakes) is a longstanding Japanese custom that marks the end of the old year and the beginning of a new one. Worshipers offer mochi to the gods and consume the rice cakes to ensure their own well-being in the coming year. In its treatment of this familiar activity, Hokusai’s humorous rendering resembles his widely circulated printed books, Hokusai manga. Here, a man strains to separate a mallet from the sticky rice while a woman struggles to hold the wooden container in place. An inscribed poem to the right reads:

wak­ narishi                    At the advent of spring
kao miru haru ni           we prepare offerings of rice cakes,
utsuru tote                      round as a mirror,
mochi wa kagami ni     in which the season finds reflected
torasekeru kana            her own youthful countenance.

Translation by Alfred Haft

Published References
  • Gian Carlo Calza. Hokusai. Exh. cat. London and New York. cat. 50, 63.
  • Narasaki Muneshige. Hokusai. vol. 117 Tokyo. p. 19, pl. 22.
  • Ann Yonemura, Nagata Seiji, Kobayashi Tadashi, Asano Shugo, Timothy Clark, Naito Masatoshi. Hokusai: Volume Two. Exh. cat. Washington, 2006. cat. 78, p. 32, 73.
  • Ann Yonemura. Hokusai: Volume One. Exh. cat. Washington, 2006. cat. 34, pp. 42-43.
Collection Area(s)
Japanese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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