Torii Kiyonaga, 1752–1815
Sudden Shower at Mimeguri Shrine, 1787
Color woodblock print (nishiki-e)
Bequest of Richard P. Gale 74.1.130a–c
Cat. no. 82

This triptych is one of Kiyonaga’s best productions. A sudden shower has sent people rushing to take shelter beneath a gateway at Mimeguri Shrine. Kiyonaga’s wit is revealed by the vaporous apparition in the clouds. A group of horned gods dressed as fashionable townsmen lounge and smoke thin pipes. In a parody of the poetry gatherings popular among Edo sophisticates, Kiyonaga depicted two demons considering a verse written on a tanzaku, a long, narrow slip of paper. This is a reference to a poem by Takarai Kikaku (1661–1707), who dedicated it to Mimeguri Shrine in 1693 as a prayer for rain. Kiyonaga’s composition is an interpretation of this legend: favorably impressed by Kikaku’s poem, the demons cause the rain to fall. Kikaku’s poem (not legible on the print) is preserved today at Mimeguri Shrine, etched in a commemorative stone. In the poem, mimeguri is used both as a name and in its literal meaning of “patrol.”

Grant us an evening shower
since you are the gods
who patrol the fields.