The artist Shoami Katsuyoshi (1832 - 1908) ranks high among the greatest of the Meiji period metalworkers. As a boy he had started metalwork making sword fittings under his father Nakagawa Katsutsugu, a retainer of the Tsuyama Matsudaira family of Mimasaka province. He later married into the Shoami family of Mimasaka. His elder brother Nakagawa Issho went to Edo and studied there under Goto Ichijo, but Katsuyoshi remained in Mimasaka thus later to forgo the honors which accrued to the group of metalworkers established in Tokyo during the Meiji period. But his work was to become highly prized both in Japan and at international expositions, and it remains so today.
The subject of a cockerel on a drum harks back to a period of peace in ancient China when it is said the drums of war had fallen silent allowing cockerels to roost upon them. The humor in it lies in that the quiet drum still had the potential to sound even as the apparently peaceful human race at the time were ever able to take up arms over a quarrel. But the cockerel would sound aloud every morning to announce that he was ever ready for the day and to establish his predominance over his rivals. It is as if the drum was quietly tolerating the rashness of the crowing. The cockerel had always been associated with the Shinto religion since it wakes to greet the rising sun, revered as the Deity Amaterasu no Okami, the ancestress of the Japanese Imperial Line. Since Shinto had been re-established as the State Religion under the Emperor Meiji, the metaphor of cockerel and silent drum might be thought of as perhaps a veiled, or subconscious statement of Japan's confidence in her newly emerging nationalism as expressed through the excellence of Meiji period metalwork.