Selection (or parody) for the Twelve Signs (Mitate jûnishi no uchi, 見立十二支の内) is artist Kuniyoshi’s series by publisher Kakumoto-ya Kinjiro from 1852. Information on this print is from the highly recommended KuniyoshiProject.com. I added this to my collection a while ago because of its beautiful condition and subject matter. Kabuki theater, actor Ichikawa Danjuro VIII, the male actor Bando Shuka I in a female role (onnagata), and horoscope signs make for an intriguing mix. Without seeing the play, it’s hard to figure out what this has to do with the qualities of the Year of the Hare. But the adorable rabbits drawn around the cartouche containing the series name are irresistible.
Sign: Hare (卯)
Foreground bust: Bandô Shuka I as Kosan the bathhouse girl (小さん) holding a letter. Due to govermental regulations, no women were permitted on stage.
Smaller figure: Ichikawa Danjûrô VIII as Omatsuri Kingorô (金五郎).Ichikawa Danjuro VIII was the Elvis of his day in Japan, handsome and wildly popular until his shocking suicide in 1854.
Play: Chikai Musubi ukina no Tategaku (盟結艶立額)