Artist: Toyohara Kunichika (豊原国周)

Print: Ōtani Tomoemon V [大谷友右衛門] as the ghost of Taira no Tomomori in the play Ichi no Mori Kujira no Ōyose (一守九字成大漁)

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Dates: 1867,created
Dimensions: 9.375 in,28.0 in,Overall dimensions

Signed: Kunichika hitsu (国周筆)
Publisher: Daikokuya Kinnosuke
Marks 033 - seal 26-101

Related links: Waseda University (top sheet); Waseda University (bottom sheet);

Physical description:

This vertical diptych commemorates a performance given at the Morita Theater in 7/1867.


This next passage is translated from The Vengeful Ghosts of the Heike Clan: "One of the ghostly warriors leapt from the ocean onto the ship. At a glance, Yoshitsune knew who it was—Taira no Tomomori, dread general of the Heike. His eyes blazed red with wrath as he swung his massive naginata long-spear and maneuvered to engage Yoshitsune. Remarkably, Yoshitsune betrayed not the slightest glimmer of fear. He calmly drew his own sword and prepared to face off with this dead warrior."


In the Nō play Funa Benkei as soon as Yoshitsune sets sail a storm hits and in the waves are the ghosts of the Heike warriors. Their leader is Taira no Tomomori and he is determined to destroy Yoshitsune.


Behold me!
I am the ghost of Taira-no-Tomomori,
Scion of the Emperor Kammu,
In the ninth generation.
Hail, Yoshitsune!
I have come
Guided by your oarsmen's voices,


As your boat cleaves
The waters of Daimotsu Bay.
As your boat cleaves
The waters of Daimotsu Bay.


I, Tomomori,
Will drag down Yoshitsune
Under the waves beneath which I sank.
Grasping his halbert,
He whirls it round him like a flail,
Churning up the waves
And belching forth noisome vapours.
Dizzy-eyed and mind distraught,
None knows where they are.

"As Tomomori attempts to pull Yoshitsune down into the sea, he is driven off by Benkei's prayers." Quoted from: Yoshitsune: A Fifteenth-century Japanese Chronicle by Helen Craig McCullough, Stanford University Press, 1966, pp. 55-56.


Another copy of this vertical diptych is illustrated in color in Japanese Woodblock Prints: Artists, Publishers and Masterworks 1680-1900 by Andreas Marks, Tuttle Publishing, Tokyo, 2010, p. 161.


Kabuki21 wrote of this print: "Ôtani Tomoemon V playing the role of the warrior Taira no Tomomori in the "Daimotsu no Ura" scene of the drama "Ichi no Mori Kujira no Ôyose" (similar to the classic "Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura"), which was staged in the 7th lunar month of 1867 at the Moritaza."