Leaping Carp Under the Cherry Tree


Leaping Carp Under the Cherry Tree

Paintings / Meiji

By Iijima Kōga (1829–1900)

Meiji era, 1874

Color on paper



This Japanese-style painting is painted in ink and color on silk. It captures the instant in which a leaping carp breaks the silence of a moonlit night under a mountain cherry tree with scattered blossoms. While the moon is seen from a low viewpoint through the branches of the cherry tree, the leaping carp is painted as seen from above. The border between the sky where the moon floats and the water’s surface is hazy, and the cherry tree in the background is depicted as a faint silhouette. In contrast, the cherry blossoms, carp, and water spray in the foreground are painted using extremely detailed brushwork. The composite perspective and contrasting portrayals evocatively produce a fantastic scene.

The artist, Iijima Kōga, was born in 1829 and studied painting under the artist Oki Ichiga. His teacher, Ichiga, painted in the orthodox style of the Kanō school, but is said to have actively adopted other styles as well. Kōga studied the style of the Maruyama School of painting, which added realism to orthodox painting styles, and searched for new forms of expression. He specialized in refined and detailed paintings of plants and animals. He presented his works at numerous fairs and exhibitions, beginning with the first National Industrial Exhibition in 1877.

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