Osaka, circa 1820
A frog stands patiently leaning both ‘hands’ on a folded umbrella. He wears a pair of geta and a courtier’s eboshi (lacquered silk hat). This depiction represents the legend of Ono no Tofu, a minister to two Heian Emperors. In spite of his diligent service he was constantly passed over for elevation in rank and despaired of his prospects. At the point of giving up all hope he observed a small frog leaping up as it tried – and failed – seven times to reach and overhanging willow branch. At the eighth attempt it succeeded in its goal, encouraging the minister to persist, soon earning him the long hoped-for promotion. The story represents the virtues of perseverance. The bulging eyes are inlaid in dark buffalo horn.