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Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)

Print: Hōjō Takatoki watching a dog fight (北條高時犬合戦之圖) - attributed to Kuniyoshi - right-hand panel of a diptych

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Dates: 1850s,created
Dimensions: 9.25 in,13.5 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print
Inscription:

No signature
No publisher's seal
No censor or date seal

Related links: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - 1868 Yoshifuji print including Hōjō Takatoki; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Shigenobu triptych of group assembled to attack Hōjō Takatoki in Kamakura; Los Angeles County Museum of Art - Yoshitoshi of Hōjō Takatoki tormented by tengu;

Physical description:

The man seated in the upper right watching the dog fight is Hōjō Takatoki (北條高時: 1303-33) was the last of the Kamakura Shikken or regents. His father, Sadatoki, abdicated, took vows and had his head shaved. His son-in-law Morotoki became regent, but died in 1311. That is when the eight year old Takatoki became the Shikken. He was assisted in this role until 1316 when he became the sole regent, "...but being of weak intelligence and dissolute morals, he spent his time in assisting at dances and dogfights, leaving the government in the hands of his minister Nagasaki Takasuke. The latter by his bad administration excited general discontent, and troubles arose in different provinces (1322). The emperor Go-Daigo thought the time favorable for the overthrow of the powerful Shikken; emissaries sent by him found adherents even in Kamakura. But Takatoki having heard of it, obliged the emperor, under pain of deposition to disown his emissaries and profess his good dispositions towards the Hōjō (1325)." The situation only got worse, but we will deal with that later.

Quoted from: Historical and Geographical Dictionary of Japan by E. Papinot, p. 167.

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Kawatake Mokuami (1816-1893) wrote a kabuki play for Danjūrō IX (1838-1903) entitled Takatoki. In this 1884 play Takatoki "...is punished for his hubris by a flock of Fury-like tengu goblins who bewitch him into a whirling dance from which he is powerless to escape."

Quoted from: "Takatoki: A Kabuki Drama" by Kawatake Mokuami, translated by Faith Bach, Asian Theatre Journal, Vol. 15, No. 2 (Autumn, 1998), p. 158.

"Takatoki's legendary love of dogs inspires the story of the play's first act, wherein the regent orders the execution of a samurai for having killed Takatoki's pet dog. Takatoki is punished for his hubris by flock of tengu goblins, who bewitch him into a maddening dance and issue omens of the fall of his house." (Ibid., p. 159)

Takatoki's dog is called 'Dragoncloud' (Unryū). (Ibid., p. 161)

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One reason this diptych has no signature, seal, publisher or government stamp of approval may be because it was published as a criticism of the current regime in Edo in the late 1840s or in the 1850s. To do otherwise would have risked arrest and fining of the artist and the publisher himself with the chance that he might be put out of business altogether.

The term inu-gassen (犬合戦) in the title means dog-fight.

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The whole diptych is illustrated in color in A Special Exhibition of Japanese Woodblock Prints: Ukiyo-e from Tadashi Goino's Collections (日本浮世繪兿術特展: 五井野正先生収藏展), National Museum of History [Taipei], 1999, 101.