"Minowa, Kanasugi at Mikawashima,” from the series One Hundred Famous Views of Edo (1857)

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About the Art

A crane dives steeply from above, its wings spread wide. It’s head, red crown and bill are depicted in fine detail. Another red crowned crane wades through the shallow water and seems to greet its partner, with beak open.

In winter, the Shogun went on “crane excursions” to the area, where the birds were hunted with Falcons. To attract cranes to the area, food was left out for them. We can see a straw-covered feeding station on the rise of the print, and a crane feeder on the left walking away across the field.

The crane is a deeply symbolic animal in East Asian culture, representing longevity, fidelity and marital bliss. And not without good reason, cranes can be observed to pair for life and reinforce their bonds with dances.