Ukiyoe, the Japanese form of woodblock prints that flourished during the Edo period (1600 – 1868), were mass-produced artworks intended to bring joy and laughter to the commoners. And while subjects included landscapes and celebrities, it wasn’t unusual for the artist’s own sense of humor and whimsy to creep into the prints in the form of surreal and unexpected creatures. An ukiyoe museum and retailer have now teamed up to turn some of those odd creatures into plushy stuffed animals.
a print from the series “Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido” (1853) Utagawa Yoshikazu | courtesy Ota Memorial Museum of Art
One subject is this mysterious “rock lion” that appears unexpectedly in an 1853 print by Utagawa Yoshikazu. The print is part of the “Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido” (東海道五十三次内), a very distinctive series in which the artist uses humorous images to tell legends related to the stations.
But there’s nothing terrifying about the plushy version of the rock lion, which comes with a zipper pocket and can be yours for 2100 yen.
“Twelve Animal Signs of Oriental Zodiac Gathering to Form One Animal” by Utagawa Yoshitora (1858) | courtesy Ota Memorial Museum of Art
Another subject is this image of a mythical beast created by Utagawa Yoshitora in 1858. Just as it’s official title–“Twelve Animal Signs of Oriental Zodiac Gathering to Form One Animal”–implies, the creature is a combination of the zodiac animals. It has the face of a rat, horns of an ox, stripes of a tiger, ears of a rabbit, flames of a dragon, tail of a snake, mane of a horse, beard of a goat, body of a monkey, comb of a rooster, front legs of a dog, and hind legs of a boar.
The plushy multi-zodiac creature is sure to bring good luck no matter what year it is, and can be yours for 2300 yen.