Japanese kanamono (metal fitting) of The Hare of Inaba Leaping Over Waves
Edo-Meiji Period. 18cm x 4cm (click on image for higher resolution)
Private collection Great Britain
 
Dave, on his Arita Potters- Japanese ceramics, pottery, porcelain … and life. blog explains the origin of the hare (or rabbit) leaping over the waves motif as –
 
…the popular rabbits and waves motif comes from a story in the Kojiki (Japan’s oldest history book) called “inaba no shirousagi,” or the “White Rabbit of Inaba.” According to this legend, a white rabbit crossed the ocean from Okino Island to the mainland at Inaba (modern-day Shimane prefecture) by using the backs of sharks as stepping stones and in doing so appeared to be running over the tops of the waves. This story became the subject of a famous Noh theater song.
 
More on The Hare of Inaba (Inaba no Shirousagi 因幡の白兎) here. See also the Mrs. T.H. James English version of the story published by Kobunsha in 1886 here.