The Tale of the Rooster


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. This print forms part of the series, Rokoku seibatsu senshō shōwa (The expeditionary war against Russia: tales of laughter). The illustrator is Utagawa Kokunimasa, also known as Baidō Bōsai or Utagawa Kunimasa V (1874–1944). 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. The text is littered with puns that play on Chinese characters that indicate negative meaning, such as death and suffering, or names of battle locations. In this print published in 1904, three Russian soldiers are shown by a campfire with a rooster, their tents in the background. They discuss the military strength of Japan using various references to birds.

Last updated: December 18, 2013