Artist: Utagawa Hirosada (歌川広貞)

Print: An actor as the ghost of Oiwa (お岩) dripping blood with Takuetsu (宅悦) cowering behind her - from the play Azumakaidō Yotsuya Kaidan (東海道四谷怪談)

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Dates: 1848,created
Dimensions: 7.25 in,9.75 in,Overall dimensions
Inscription: Signed: Hirosada (広貞)

Related links: Waseda University; Achenbach Foundation of Graphic Arts; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Hankyu Culture Foundation;

Physical description:

The actors as the ghost of Oiwa (possibly played by Onoe Kikugorō III or Okawa Hashizō I) and a frightened Takuetsu (Ichikawa Sukejirō), the blind masseur who runs a brothel, in the play Irohagana yotsuya kaidan. Rare.

This print from the Lyon Collection appears to be from a different edition found in the collections of Waseda University, Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Achenbach Foundation and the Hankyu Culture Foundation. In those examples, the inscription behind Oiwa and the cowering blind masseur are found only on the left-hand side. The inscription on this print is much fuller and needs further research.


There are several prints in the Lyon Collection based on the 69 Stations of the Kisokaidō. One which Mike Lyon does not yet own is the one for Oiwake which means 'crossroads'. That one was designed by Kuniyoshi in which he chose to present Oiwa dripping blood on an overturned screen. Oiwa is a pun here used for the name of a particular station on the Kisokaidō.

Sarah E. Thompson in her book on this series describes the scene which matches the one seen in this Hirosada print:

"The unfortunate Oiwa is being mistreated by her evil husband, Iemon, who wants to divorce her and marry the daughter of his wealthy neighbor Kihei. When Oiwa is convalescing after the birth of her child, Kihei gives her 'medicine' that is actually a poison, causing her face to swell up and become deformed. As the poison takes effect, Oiwa is visited by the blind masseur Takuetsu. Although he cannot see, he realizes that something is terribly wrong when he touches her face and feels the swellings. He tells Oiwa to look in a mirror, and she is appalled by what she sees. When she attempts to comb her hair, it falls out in bloody clumps, dripping onto the white paper of an overturned standing screen (tsuitate).

Overcome with fear, Takuetsu runs away, and Oiwa cuts her throat with her husband's sword. She subsequently returns as a ghost in many different manifestations, haunting Iemon, until he is slowly driven mad."


Illustrated in color in Chimi moryō no sekai : Ukiyoe : Edo no gekiga--reikai, makai no shujinkō-tachi (浮世絵魑魅魍魎の世界: 江戶の劇画 : 霊界魔界の主人公たち) by 中右瑛 (Nakau Ei), Ribun Shuppan, Tokyo, 1987, p. 26. [The text is entirely in Japanese.]