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Photo credit: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

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Title: Orchids in Full Bloom
Date: ca. 1812
Medium: Color woodblock print
Dimensions: 7 3/4 x 10 3/4 inches (19.7 x 27.3 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Joanna Haab Schoff, Class of 1955
Object Number: 2011.017.002
Label Text: Commissioned by Poets of Suwa for a Midsummer, ca. early 1810s

Te no uchi ni It leaves darkness
Yami wo nokoshite In the palm of my hand—
Tobu hotaru The departing firefly —Sei’i

Hitai kara I awake from a dream
Yume wa sametari Emerging from my forehead
Natsu no tsuki The moon of summer —Banshi

Hototogisu At the sight
Tonde yuku ni mo Of the cuckoo flying off—
Aita kuchi My jaw drops —Jukujin

Hototogisu The cuckoo cries—
Naku ya shinobu no A message to the house
Yado-dayori With shinobu plants
—Sobaku

Oto suru wa Making that sound
Keshi no kara nari The husks of poppies—
Aoarashi A storm of blue —Den’nen


This midsummer surimono, with its seasonally appropriate image of orchids in full bloom, was commissioned by haikai poets of the Suwa region, well north of Edo. As in many haikai surimono, their poetry has no direct relationship to the image, as though each poem was produced as an independent reaction to changes in the natural world, the only thematic relation between them being the season. Nevertheless, we can appreciate poetry and illustration as sharing in the same spirit and mode, with a minute focus on the details of nature.


NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.