At 7 feet tall, Ozora Buzaemon became a tabloid sensation when he arrived in Edo (Tokyo) in mid1827. His handprints were cherished souvenirs, and his image was hawked in woodblock prints.
He was treated essentially as a sideshow freak. As inscriptions on the scroll detail, the scholarpainter
Kazan met Buzaemon at the residence of noted Confucian scholar Sato Issai. Using a camera
obscura-type device, Kazan captured Buzaemon’s image on a quiltwork of paper patches, making
a preliminary drawing that would later be turned into a finished painting. This sad portrayal depicts
Buzaemon’s inherent discomfort in his imposed roleas entertainer-unlike the bombastic, hyperimagined
caricatures found in the broadsheet prints that hyped his arrival in Edo.