Morita Osandô (森田乙三洞), real name Morita Masanobu (森田誠信 1895-1959), was a hobby-shop owner who opened for business in 1914 in Sennichimae, Osaka. Over the years he sold old toys, bunraku (puppet) heads, lamps, old woodcuts, antique books, and kokeshi dolls (小芥子 simple wooden dolls with no arms or legs crafted as a toy for children) as well as Western cultural artifacts (Morita admired Western culture). He was a member of the The Naniwa Takarabune Kai (Naniwa Treasure Ship Association, 浪華宝船会 1928-1936), organized mostly by hobbyists. After the war, Morita played an active role in second-hand book fairs held at the Daimaru (大丸) department store. By 1951, Osandô dealt mainly with rental books and some small works of art, plus limited quantities of kokeshi dolls. Soon after, the shop offered only rental books until finally closing in 1959, the year of Morita's death.
For more about Morita Osandô, see Morita Biography.
The Takarabune (Treasure ship, 寶舟 or 宝船) is a symbol of good luck, said to sail into port at the New Year carrying the gods and laden with treasures. During the Edo period, it was believed that if you sleep with a picture of a treasure ship on your pillow on New Year's Day or Setsubun (節分 a bean-throwing festival or ceremony incorporating a traditional ritual performed at the New Year in which soya beans are scattered to drive away evil), you will have a good or propitious "first dream" for the New Year. Prints of treasure ships were typically placed under one's pillow to induce happy dreams. In ukiyo-e the Takarabune is often depicted filled with the seven lucky gods, or in mitate-e with courtesans representing those gods.
Morita's print portrays two lovers in a boat during a clandestine assignation. The woman wears her sash or obi (帯) in the manner of a courtesan; she appears to be in the process of tying it in front. The man wears a tenugui (cotton scarf, 手拭) tied under his nose to conceal his identity (the manner of tying the scarf is called tekka kaburi, 鉄火被). The character for Takara (寶) is inscribed on the lantern, an explicit reference to the treasure ship. There is, as well, abraided rope on the prow of the ship, representing a type of engimono (縁起物) or good luck charm.
The sizes of the figures overwhelm the small boat; the dimensional disconnect makes this a most unusual design. In our opinion, this is one of Morita's best takarabune designs.
The Osaka Museum of History Takarabune Collection includes a number of Takarabune designs by Morita dating from 1931. A collector named Miyakodori Sumiko (都鳥澄子) donated more than 100 treasure ship prints presented at the Third Naniwa Takarabune Kai in 1931 to the museum. Today, the museum has 262 examples of takarabune prints, but not this design."
- Kokeshi Wiki (https://kokeshiwiki.com/?p=24379).
- Osaka Museum of History (http://www.mus-his.city.osaka.jp/news/2013/tenjigae/140127.html).
- Osaka Museum of History Takarabune Collection (http://www.mus-his.city.osaka.jp/collection/minzoku/takarabune/takarabune.html).