Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Colour woodblock print. Two carp leaping up waterfall. Signed.

  • Producer name

  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1833 (circa)
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 52.2 centimetres (Print)
    • Width: 23.2 centimetres (Print)
    • Height: 68.5 centimetres (Mount)
    • Width: 50.6 centimetres (Mount)
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

      • Inscription Position

        image, bottom right
      • Inscription Language

      • Inscription Content

      • Inscription Transliteration

        Saki no Hokusai Iitsu hitsu
      • Inscription Translation

        From the brush of Iitsu, the former Hokusai
  • Curator's comments

    Smith 1988

    This is a 'kakemonoe', or print in the form of a hanging scroll. The Chinese legend was that carp which could ascend the Yellow River falls would turn into dragons. In Japan the ascending carp became a symbol of courage and was used especially for Boys' Day (5 May). This print is in Hokusai's 'Chinese' style. The signature is 'The former Hokusai, changing his name to Iitsu'.Clark 2017

    The phrase ‘ascending dragon gate’ (tōryūmon) denotes
    the gateway to success in life. The name comes from a
    legend about carp gathering below the rapids known as
    ‘Dragon Gate’ (Chinese: longmen, Japanese: ryūmon) in
    the upper reaches of the Yellow River in China. Many
    of the fish cannot continue any further, but if a carp
    can climb the rapids, it becomes a dragon. Numerous
    pictures were therefore produced of carp climbing
    waterfalls, as a way of signifying success in life. This
    image may be one of them, but Hokusai’s main focus
    seems to be not the ascending carp, but rather the one
    down below looking out at us. The continuity in the
    treatment of the white spray – at the bottom of the
    waterfall, on the body of the carp and on the yellowish
    rocks to the right of the picture – demonstrates the
    attention to fine detail characteristic of Hokusai.


  • Bibliography

    • Clark 2017 105 bibliographic details
    • Smith 1988 174 bibliographic details
    • Hizo Ukiyo-e taikan Vol 3 60 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history


    2014 Oct- 2015 Jan, Reunion des musees nationaux Grand Palais, Hokusai
    2017 25 May - 2 July, London, BM, G35, Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave

  • Subjects

  • Associated places

  • Associated events

    • Associated Event: Boys' Day (5 May)
  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department


  • Registration number


Colour woodblock print. Two carps leaping up waterfall. Signed.

Colour woodblock print. Two carps leaping up waterfall. Signed.

Image description



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Object reference number: JCF5933

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