O'Fuko Throwing Beans for Good Luck and to Drive the Devils Away on New Year's Eve


The Russo-Japanese War (1904–5) was documented in various forms of media, such as woodblock prints, photographs, and illustrations. The victories of the Japanese military in the early stages of the war inspired propaganda prints by Japanese artists. Kobayashi Kiyochika (1847–1915) contributed this farcical single-sheet print to the series, Nihon banzai hyakusen hyakushō (Long live Japan: 100 victories, 100 laughs). Kiyochika, known for producing woodblock prints using Western painting methods, had been under the brief tutelage of Charles Wirgman (1832–91), an English cartoonist for the Illustrated London News. Kiyochika also became a full-time political cartoonist for a Japanese magazine in 1882–93. The satirical writer Honekawa Dojin (pseudonym of Nishimori Takeki, 1862–1913) supplied each illustration with an accompanying humorous description. The series mocked the Russians for their perceived military weakness, conceit, and cowardice. Here a large Japanese woman is shown driving away the Russians by showering bullets on them, reflecting the tradition of throwing beans at horned ogres during Setsubun (Bean-Throwing Festival) in order to drive evil spirits out of the home. Eventually the Japanese manage to “sweep out” the Russians, who are deemed the “world’s trash” and caricatured as ogres with horns, fangs, and claws.

Last updated: March 2, 2012