An image of The lucky tea kettle of Morin Temple (Morinji no bunbuku chagama)

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi

(Japan 1839 – 1892)

The lucky tea kettle of Morin Temple (Morinji no bunbuku chagama), from the series New forms of thirty-six ghosts

Not on display
Further information

This work depicts a shapeshifting badger, known as tanuki in Japanese. It tells the story of a woodcutter who had saved a badger and, in appreciation, the badger turned itself into a tea kettle. The woodcutter sold the kettle to Morin Temple but the tea kettle had an uncomfortable existence there are it did not like being rubbed, cleaned or placed over the fire. One day when a monk heated the kettle, it became so aggravated it turned back into the badger and tried to escape. The tanuki was caught and placed in a box where it turned back into the kettle. There are two endings to the story, in one the badger escaped and returned to the woodcutter. The woodcutter had become an entertainer and the tanuki assisted him by dancing and doing tricks to attract money. In another version, the monks realised the kettle was special so kept it in a box where it lived a life of comfort and ease. This print shows the badger wearing a priest’s robe and taking a nap in the temple where he was in the habit of transforming himself. The presence of the kettle nearby is the reminder of the badger’s story.

Place of origin
Japan: Meiji period 1868–1912
colour woodblock print
36.0 x 25.0 cm
Yasuko Myer Bequest Fund 2018
Accession number