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Book/Printed Material Gifts from the Ebb Tide.

About this Item


  • Gifts from the Ebb Tide.


  • In Japan, collecting beautiful shells and decorating them with poems is an elegant pastime dating from ancient times. Shiohi no tsuto (Gifts from the ebb tide, popularly known in English as The Shell Book), is an illustrated book of multicolored woodblock prints by Kitagawa Utamaro (circa 1753--1806). Such ehon (picture books) are part of a long tradition featuring the fine collaborative work of artists, calligraphers, writers, papermakers, block cutters, and printers. This one, published in about 1789 by Tsutaya Jūzaburō, has 36 kyōka (humorous and satirical Japanese poems of 31 syllables) by a number of different poets illustrating the 36 shells. The book begins with a scene of shiohigari (clam-digging), followed by six pages of elaborately drawn pictures of shells with the kyōka, and concludes with a scene of the shell-matching game. On some pages, metal dust, crushed shell, and mother-of-pearl has been applied, conveying sheen or sparkle, and the texture enhanced by pressing carved stone against the paper without ink (blind embossing).


  • Kitagawa, Utamaro, 1753?-1806 Artist.

Created / Published

  • Edo : Tsutaya Jûzaburô, 1789.


  • -  Japan
  • -  1789
  • -  Clamming
  • -  Poetry
  • -  Shells
  • -  Woodcuts


  • -  Title devised, in English, by Library staff.
  • -  Original resource extent: 1 book : woodblock prints, color ; 27.4 x 19.4 centimeters.
  • -  Original resource at: National Diet Library.
  • -  Content in Japanese.
  • -  Description based on data extracted from World Digital Library, which may be extracted from partner institutions.


  • 1 online resource.

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 2021666353

Online Format

  • compressed data
  • pdf
  • image

Additional Metadata Formats

IIIF Presentation Manifest

Rights & Access

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Credit Line: [Original Source citation], World Digital Library

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Kitagawa, Utamaro, 1753?-1806 Artist. Gifts from the Ebb Tide. Edo: Tsutaya Jûzaburô, 1789. Pdf.

APA citation style:

Kitagawa, U. (1789) Gifts from the Ebb Tide. Edo: Tsutaya Jûzaburô. [Pdf] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Kitagawa, Utamaro, 1753?-1806 Artist. Gifts from the Ebb Tide. Edo: Tsutaya Jûzaburô, 1789. Pdf. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.