- Museum number
Object: Kohada Koheiji こはだ小平二 (Kohada Koheiji)
Series: Hyaku monogatari 百物語 (100 Ghost Tales)
Colour woodblock print. The skeletal ghost of Kohada Koheiji peers in over the top of the mosquito net pulled down by his bony hands. Mysterious spirit flames emanate from below.
- Production date
- 1833 (about)
Height: 26.10 centimetres
Width: 18.60 centimetres
- Curator's comments
‘100 Ghost Tales’ (Hyaku monogatari) was a game whereby ghost tales were told among an assembled company at night and after each story another wick of the oil-lamp was extinguished, making the room progressively darker and darker. After the final wick was snuffed out, it was anticipated that ghosts would come out in the pitch black. This print series on the theme was the occasion for the elderly Hokusai to weave together powerful currents that had long gestated in his art of hyper-realism, macabre fantasy and even a certain humour. Judging from the series title, clearly the publisher, Tsuruya Kiemon, and Hokusai envisaged a series of one hundred designs. In the event, however, only five designs are known and the number of surviving impressions from the original edition seems to be small. Nevertheless, the series later came to be particularly appreciated in the West for its macabre invention and a faithful set of facsimile reproductions was made in the Meiji era (1890s?).
(T. Clark, 2/2016)
The skeletal ghost of Kohada Koheiji pulls down the edge of a mosquito net, with eerie flames flickering around him. The viewer should know that he is haunting his sleeping wife who, with her lover, had drowned him in Asaka swamp. The story seems to have circulated for much of the eighteenth century, before being written up as a novel by Santō Kyōden (1761–1816) in 1803. Kohada’s reddish muscles and greentinged tendons echo the unearthly net and its cloth border. Given his rictus grin, his victim is in for a shock.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2017 25 May - 13 Aug, London, BM, G35, Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave
2017 6 Oct - 19 Nov, Osaka, Abeno Harukas Art Museum
2019 23 May-26 Aug, BM, G30, Manga
2022 16 Apr-12 Jun, Tokyo, Suntory Museum of Art, Hokusai from the British Museum
- Acquisition date
- Registration number