fan crest   title
Home •  Recent Update •  Sales Gallery •  Archives
Articles •  Varia •  Glossary •  Biographies •  Bibliography
Search •  Video •  Contact Us •  Conditions of Sale •  Links

Isshûsai Kunikazu (一珠齋國員)

Oranda watari meichô (Fine birds imported from foreign lands)
ôju [by special request] Kunikazu
No artist's seal
Tayû Moto (see discussion under "Design" below)
Circa mid-1850s-1860
(H x W)
Ôban nishiki-e
38.0 x 25.0 cm
Good (slight off-registration of some color blocks)
Very good color; good condition (never backed; a few tiny stray marks; a small area of pigment loss below bird at top left)
Price (USD/¥):
$1,780 / Contact us to pay in yen (¥)

Order/Inquiry (Ref #KKZ05)


The first two characters in the title (Oranda watari meichô, "Fine birds imported from foreign lands": 紅毛渡り名鳥) are read in a non-standard manner, glossed as they are with furigana script pronounced Oranda (おらんど, "Holland" or "Dutch"), whereas more typically the term Oranda would have been written as 和蘭 or 阿蘭陀. The same ideograms were also read as kômô (literally, "red hair": 紅毛), an often derisive term for foreigners. Oranda or kômô could be understood as a specific appellation (such as "Dutch" or "European"), or simply as "foreign." In the case of Kunikazu's print, oranda may have pointed toward Indonesia, where these exotic birds were likely captured or raised before they were imported into Japan. During the Edo period, Dutch and Chinese merchants — through the port of Nagasaki — actively traded or made gifts of animals from around the world, and Japanese from all strata of society were fascinated by their encounters with these non-indigenous creatures. One recorded example describes the public response to the ballyhooed arrival of a camel at Nagasaki in 1821. According to the Bukô nenpyô (Chronicles of Edo; compiled 1849-78: 武江年表), the exhibit (misemono: 見世物) required a higher-than-usual admission price, inspired news reports in the popular broadsheets, and witnessed the composition of kyôka (playful verses: 狂歌) and kanshi (Chinese-style poems: 漢詩) in honor of the curious dromedary.


The banner at the lower left reads Tayû Moto (太夫元) — an abbreviation for the name of a dealer in birds who sponsored the print design to promote his business. An alternate edition of this image (illustrated in the reference cited below) has a more complete inscription on the banner, which reads, Tayû Moto Sesshû Matsuka Toriya Kumakichi (toriya means "vendor of birds" or "bird shop": 太夫元勢洲松坂鳥屋熊吉). The out-of-the-ordinary publishing arrangement is reflected in the artist's signature, which includes the prefix ôju, meaning "by special request."

Kunikazu depicted ten exotic birds, each on its own perch and labeled by name in nearby cartouches, all set against a yellow background. The avian grouping includes a small white ômu-ko (small parrot: 鸚鵡子) at the top right. It is an exceedingly rare example of a ukiyo-e style, single-sheet ôban kachô-ga (nature print, literally, "bird and flower picture": 花鳥絵) from Osaka.

References: KUN, no. 214 (alternate edition)