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otagaki rengetsu poem scroll calligraphy view-5

Otagaki Rengetsu | Poem


Since the age of the gods, 
rabbits have been able 
to exchange their furs 
by slipping on the white down
of cattail wicks.

(transl. Sayumi Takahashi)


The so-called white rabbit from Inaba lived – the story goes – on Oki island and wanted to cross the sea to get to Inaba. So, the rabbit asked the crocodiles to line up to count their number. Just before reaching Inaba, the rabbit told them that they have been cheated. A crocodile close by ripped off the rabbit's skin. A group of gods passed by and told the rabbit to wash itself with seawater and lie in the wind and to roll about in the pollen of cattail. When the rabbit did so, his skin was restored. – Note: Rengetsu's adoptive father Otagaki Mitsuhisa was from Inaba.


Published: Black robe white mist: art of the Japanese Buddhist nun Rengetsu, National Gallery of Australia exhibition catalogue, Melanie Eastburn, Lucie Folan, Robyn Maxwell (ed.), 2007, no.44, ill. p.37.


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Otagaki Rengetsu (1791-1875)

Poem, c.1855-1865

Ink on paper

20.8 x 17.7 cm (8¼ x 7 in.)

Mounting: 176 x 29 cm

Wooden box

SKU: 2642
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