The Day Before the Beginning of Spring, c. 1790

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For this print, Hokusai was inspired by a play dramatizing a popular ritual performed on setsubun, the eve of the first day of spring in the old lunar calendar. On this day, people in Japan scatter dried beans in their houses to drive out bad luck. In the play, a demon personifies an evil spirit who has come into a widow's house, even though she had created a protective talisman. The clever woman offers the demon sake (rice wine) and he soon becomes drunk. In the end, she successfully drives him away by throwing beans at him. For this print, Hokusai depicted the last scene, with the woman holding her box of beans and the demon on bended knee clutching at her. The triumphant smile on her face and the gesture by the masked actor who played the demon shows the happy ending of the play.

The Day Before the Beginning of Spring
Artist Life
1760 - 1849
Accession Number
Curator Approved

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