Asakusa Hagoita ichi from the portfolio Collection of Woodblock Prints Lyricism of Shitamachi

Koga Misao (act. c. 1960s/1980s)

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Asakusa Hagoita ichi

from the portfolio Collection of Woodblock Prints Lyricism of Shitamachi

by Koga Misao, 1986

Print 1 from the series Very Popular Story. Event for Prints. Rainbow glass. Then, Mr. Ay-o got drunk by the Rainbow.

IHL Cat. #2005

About This Print

The artist's rendering of the annual three-day Battledore Fair that takes place each year in Asakusa starting on December 17. Koga gives us a view of the bottom tiers of the Five Story Pagoda of Sensoji, the stalls selling hagoita 羽子板 and the crowds.

This print was one of twenty five included in a portfolio of woodblock prints (see portfolio cover below) titled Lyricism of Shitamachi 下町抒情 published by Han no kai, the print society formed by Tadashige Ono (1909-1990) to encourage and support young artists.  Tadashige contributed three prints to the portfolio and twenty-one other little-known artists contributed prints.

Shitamachi was the name used to designate Tokyo's "low city," an area associated with the common people before the war. In post-war terminology it designates everything east of the Imperial Palace. It is also used more generically to refer to those areas of modern Tokyo that maintain the flavor of the old city.

Hagoita Ichi (The Battledore Fair)

Source: website of the Japanese National Tourist Organization (JNTO)

The Hagoita Ichi Fair happens yearly in Asakusa [from December 17-19]. Hagoita are rectangular bats [battledores] used in playing hanetsuki–a traditional New Year’s game similar to badminton. The bats sold at the market are distinctive, as they are purely ornamental good luck charms. Each are decorated by hand using lacquer, embroidery, or silk cloth.  

The traditional versions of hagoita feature handsome kabuki actors and elegant beauties, but there are also some decorated with images of popular celebrities, sumo wrestlers, athletes, and cartoon characters. They are available in different sizes, from couple centimeters long to over one meter in length.

The hagoita were originally used in playing the traditional New Year game hanetsuki. It was a popular game among the girls during the Edo era. The origins of Hagoita Ichi came from the custom of giving a hagoita for the healthy growth of girls. The hagoita are used as a “board to bounce back evil.”

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #2005
 Title Asakusa Hagoitai shi 浅草羽子板市
 Series from the portfolio Downtown Lyricism, Collection of Woodblock Prints
 版画集 下町抒情
 Koga Misao (act. c. 1980s)
Misao Koga in pencil

artist's 操 (Misao) seal
 Publication Date 1986
 Publisher 版の会発行 han no kai hakkō
 Printer self-printed
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition excellent - tipped to original paper as found in portfolio
 Genre sosaku-hanga (creative print)
 Miscellaneous mounted to its original backing sheet from the portfolio
 Format chuban
 H x W Paper 8 x 9 13/16 in. (20.3 x 24.9 cm)
 H x W Image 7 3/16 x 9 1/4 in. (18.3 x 23.5 cm)
 Collections This Print
 Reference Literature 
last revision:
3/14/2019 created