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Artist: Utagawa Yoshitaki (歌川芳滝)

Print: Scene from Igagoe Dōchū Sugoroku ('The Revenge at Igagoe' - 伊賀越道中双六):
Arashi Tokusaburō IV as 石榴武助 on the left and Nakamura Sennosuke II as Kofuji (小ふじ)
on the right

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Dates: 1866,created
Dimensions: 9.625 in,14.0 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print
Inscription:

Signed: Yoshitaki (芳瀧)

Related links: Ritsumeikan University - left panel ; Ritsumeikan University - right panel;

Physical description:

The precise identity of the onnagata is a bit muddled and uncertain. Hopefully this will be resolved in time. At least it takes nothing away from the beauty of this diptych itself.

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'The Revenge at Igagoe' is considered one of the three greatest revenge plays in the kabuki theater. The Kanadehon Chūshingura and Tengajaya are the others.

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Kabuki21 gives some background for this play:

"During Japan's feudal period, from time to time there were people that could not be punished due to clan loyalties and highly fragmented authority. Under certain conditions, retainers and family members were empowered to take the law into their own hands and conduct an official vendetta. "Igagoe Dōchū Sugoroku" was written by Chikamatsu Hanji and first presented in the Bunraku puppet theater in the 4th lunar month of 1783 and adapted to Kabuki in the 9th lunar month of 1783 in Ōsaka at the Naka no Shibai [casting]. The authors drew their inspiration from Nagawa Kamesuke I's successful drama "Igagoe Norikake Gappa", which was directly written for Kabuki and was staged for the first time in the 12th lunar month of 1776 in Ōsaka at the Naka no Shibai [casting]. A similar drama was staged in Kyōto in the 1st lunar month of 1777 under the title "Keisei Tonoi Zakura" [casting].

"Igagoe Dōchū Sugoroku" is an epic based on a true incident in 1634 in which Watanabe Shizuma killed the murderer of his younger brother, a man named Kawai Matagorō at Iga Ueno, with the aid of Araki Mataemon. In the final fight, Mataemon killed several people, which has made him legendary as a master swordman celebrated in theatre, kōdan storytelling and popular novels. Shizuma's desperate search for Matagorō takes him throughout Japan and the success of the vendetta is due to the help he gets from others. The play focuses on the often tragic consequences of divided loyalties as people confront members of this vendetta.

When it was dramatized, the names and details, and even the era were changed because of censorship by the ruling Tokugawa shogunate…"