Tsukioka Yoshitoshi


Tokugawa Shogun Viewing Watermelon Fight at Hama Palace
(Onhama goten ni oite Tokugawa daiju onfunate suikagassen joran no zu)

with a dusting of mica in the water; signed Oju (by request) Yoshitoshi ga, with artist's seal Taiso, published by Sasaki Toyokichi, August 1889

oban tate-e triptych 14 1/8 by 28 1/8 in., 35.8 by 71.5 cm

This scene appears to record a water polo-type game comprised of two teams, identified by red and white headbands, being directedby flag men in skiffs bearing correspnding colors. In choppy waters beneath the stand of pines along the retaining wall of the Imperial Palace of O-Hama Palace overlooking Tokyo Bay, it seems the goal of the game is to collect as many watermelons as possible and bring them to the boats, presumably the team with the most watermelons wins.

In his 1983 monograph on Yoshitoshi, Keyes identifies the subject of this triptych as 'The Watermelon Fight of Imperial Boatmen Near the Palace at Ohama' while Iwakiri suggest that the curious subject may have recorded an exercise organized by the Imperial Navy (ie. Keyes' Imperial boatmen). Curiously, the title cartouche identifies the Tokugawa shogun as viewing the watery melee, although the shogunate had been disbanded over twenty years earlier.

Roger Keyes, Courage and Silence, 1983, p. 492, no. 513 (titled slightly different, Ohama goten ni oite ofune suika kassen)
Yuriko Iwakiri, Yoshitoshi, 2014, p. 66, no. 96

(inv. no. 10-5453)

price: $3,800 (reserved)


Scholten Japanese Art is open Monday - Friday, and some Saturdays by appointment only

Contact Katherine Martin at
(212) 585-0474 or email
to schedule a visit between 11am and 4pm preferably for no more than two individuals at a time.
Visitors are asked to wear face masks and practice social distancing at their discretion.

site last updated
December 1, 2022

Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475