Museum

Japan's Greatest Swimmer

Japan's Greatest Swimmer

 

Asahina Yoshihide (朝比奈 義秀), also known as Asahina Saburō (朝比奈 三朗), was a Japanese warrior of the early 13th century. One day when the shogun Minamoto no Yoriie and his followers went on a sightseeing trip to the sea at Kotsubo near Kamakura, Asahina... was asked to demonstrate his remarkable skill in swimming. Having swum several hundred metres, the strongman then dived into the sea and caught three crocodiles (only two are present in the print), which he proceeded to show to the assembly.

In the center this incredible Kuniyoshi triptych, the hero grapples with one creature under his arm as the crocodile writhes and struggles, churning up white-capped waves and a shower of spray. With his other arm, he has just tossed another crocodile through the air at right, the animal arcing over the boats filled with frightened retainers below. The Shogun Minamoto no Yoriie and his noblemen watch from the ship at left. The snow-covered peak of Mt. Fuji rises at right, with a ring of boats extending around the water. An amazing image with wonderful detail in the scaly crocodiles, which feature imaginative fins behind their legs.

 

 



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