Utagawa Kuniyoshi "Goldfish"

“Goldfish” is a series of ukiyo-e by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861), an ukiyo-e artist who gained prominence in the late Edo period. Goldfish and other aquatic creatures like frogs and turtles are anthropomorphized and portrayed with plenty of humor. During the late Edo period, goldfish became popular pets for ordinary people. The people would have loved seeing their pets portrayed in such a cute way and enjoyed seeing the adorable creatures not only in fishbowls but in ukiyo-e.
In recent years, the Japanese word “kawaii” meaning “cuteness” has spread around the world as one of the key words of Japanese pop culture. But the culture of “kawaii” can already be found in ukiyo-e from the Edo period. In these pictures, the word “giga” meaning “caricature" is written below “Kuniyoshi,” the name of the artist, showing that these pictures are meant to be comical.