About This Artwork

Katsushika Hokusai 葛飾 北斎
Japanese, 1760-1849
Publisher: Hibino Yohachi
Japanese, unknown

Tenji Tenno (The Emperor Tenji), first poet in the series One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets Explained by the Nurse, c. 1835/36

Color woodblock print; yoko oban
26.2 x 37.7 cm

Clarence Buckingham Collection, 1928.1088

Emperor Tenji (628–681) reigned from 668 to 671, during which he established Japan’s first code of civil law. This scene is based on the story that while the emperor was traveling in the countryside, a sudden shower forced him to take shelter in a flimsy, temporary hut in a rice field. His poem expresses his sympathy for his subjects who must work and endure every day under such conditions.

Course the rush-mat roof
Sheltering the harvest hut
Of the autumn rice field—
And my sleeves are growing wet
With the moisture dripping through.
(Translated by Clay MacCauley)

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