かぼちゃ喰いねずみ (kabocha-eating mouse)

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

Title:

かぼちゃ喰いねずみ (kabocha kui nezumi)
kabocha-eating mouse

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This top depicts four mice that have nested inside of a kabocha (an Asian variety of winter squash). Each mouse faces a cardinal direction and is painted the color associated with that direction based on Chinese traditions sometimes seen in Japan. South is red, west is white, north is black, and east is green.

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Hiroi Michiaki: And this is…

Mrs. Hiroi: The kabocha-eating mouse.

Hiroi: It’s called the kabocha-eating mouse. This also happens to be something that’s good luck.

Mrs. Hiroi: When you spin it, the [mouse] pops its head out from the kabocha.

Hiroi: Inside the kabocha, the mouse is inside building a nest. When you spin it, all these different mice poke their faces in and out of it from the four directions. And this red mouse, red is for the south, so [he’s facing] south. And yellow, yellow is… is this yellow or white?

Mrs. Hiroi: It’s white.

Hiroi: But it looks like it’s yellow.

Mrs. Hiroi: It’s not yellow, it’s white.

Hiroi: It must be white. White is west, isn’t it…

Mrs. Hiroi: Yeah, that’s right.

Hiroi: These, these are colors indicating the four directions.

 

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