[Illustrator not identified].
[Japan : (publisher not identified), ca. late Edo to early Meiji period (1810-1870s)?].
A woodblock carved on both sides used to print a fukubiki lottery game. Fukubiki was a "popular pastime involving the drawing of lots or some similar method to win prizes".¹ This particular woodblock would have been used for a fukubiki game called mon-awase, in which six mon (crests) were printed on a sheet and small pieces of paper printed with mon and other symbols were rolled-up and affixed to the left and right sides of the print. There were various games that could be played using a mon-awase game sheet, the most popular of which was a game whereby a player chose two rolled-up pieces of paper, one from the left and one from the right side of the print, and if the mon on the two papers matched, the player won. Another game involved placing unshelled peanuts on one of the six centr al mon and picking one rolled-up paper. If the mon printed on the paper matched the mon with the peanuts on, the player would win the peanuts (peanuts could, of course, be replaced with money). Mon-awase reportedly began in the Edo period as a form of gambling, and its popularity lasted until the early Shōwa period. By this time, it had largely become a game for children, who would pay a small amount of money at a dagashiya (small sweets shop) to pick one or two of the rolled-up papers and test their luck. Whole game sheets were also popular products at dagashiya around new year, when families came together and such games were in high demand.
One side of this woodblock has been carved to print the main game sheet of the mon-awase, while the other has been carved to print the small pieces of paper to be rolled-up and lightly affixed to the margins of the main game sheet.
A scarce example of a carved printing block for a Japanese game which has fallen out of common use.
One wooden printing block, carved on both sides. Occasional chips and scrapes, but overall near fine. 22.6 x 30.4 cm. Text in Japanese.
1 Kodansha Encyclopedia of Japan, vol. 2, New York, Kodansha, 1983, p. 361.