Costumed Dolls   Kitsune-ken

An’ei era (1772–1781) Donated by Saitō Shōji

These dolls represent two youths playing ‘kitsune-ken,’ an old version of the hand game rock-paper-scissors. There are three hand gestures: a village chief, a gun and a fox. The fox is superior to the chief because it can bewitch him; the chief to the gun as he uses it; the gun to the fox because it can kill the fox.

The older one is making the ‘chief’ gesture, while the younger one is making the ‘fox’ gesture. The joyful expression on the younger boy’s face at winning the game is very endearing.