Artist: Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国)

Print: Naritayama Fudō Myōō (成田山不動明王) is flanked by his attendants, Kongara Dōji (l矜迦羅童子) on the left and Seitaka Dōji (制吒迦童子) on the right as he rescues Hiranoya Tokubei (平のや徳兵衛), later Honchōmaru Tsunagorō (本朝丸綱五郎), from the sea

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Dates: 1851,created
Dimensions: 30.0 in,14.5 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print

Signed: Toyokuni ga, in toshidama cartouche (on each sheet)
Publisher: Wakasaya Yoichi (Jakurindō)
(Marks 573 - seal 27-021)
Censor seals: Fuku and Muramatsu
Shita-uri seal

Related links: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; About Fudō Myōō; Tokyo Metropolitan Library ; Waseda University - right panel; Waseda University - center panel; Waseda Univesity - left panel; Victoria and Albert Museum - a single print image of this scene; Metropolitan Museum of Art - right panel only; The National Museum of Asian Art; Ritsumeikan University - very similar triptych by Kunisada; Lyon Collection - another copy of the left panel;

Physical description:

The Victoria and Albert Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston both identify this play as Genji moyō furisode hinagata (源氏模様娘雛形). That means that this image is based on a play borrowed from a kusazōshi or illustrated novel by Ryūtei Tanehiko.


  • Bandō Shūka I (初代坂東しうか) as Seitaka Dōji (right)
  • Ichikawa Ebizō V as the deity Naritayama Fudō Myōō rescuing
    Ichikawa Danjūrō VIII (八代目市川団十郎) as Hiranoya Tokubei, later Honchōmaru Tsunagorō (center)
  • Ichikawa Kuzō II (二代目市川九蔵) as Kongara Dōji (left)

The title cartouche reads: 本朝丸綱五郎成田山之御利益ニ而危一命ヲ助ルノ処

Performed at Ichimura Theater 1851/09.


There is another copy of this triptych illustrated in black and white in Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collection 5: Victoria and Albert Museum II, Kodansha, 1989, on page 162.


The Fudō motif and the Danjūrō connection

The fellow at the end of the rope being saved by the god Fudō Myōō was played by Ichikawa Danjūrō VIII. The Ichikawa clan have long been linked to Naritaya and the cult of Fudō Myōō. The following passage is quoted from: 'Votive Paintings of the Kabuki Actors Ichikawa Danjūrō at Naritasan Shinshōji Temple' by Hilary K. Snow, Archives of Asian Art, 2012.

When Danjūrō I became an actor, he established and promoted a connection between the family's traditional devotion to the Naritasan Fudō and his distinctive acting style - a flamboyant roughness known as aragoto, which signified for the most part heroic commoners. As Laurence Kominz has shown, this style of kabuki derived from Esoteric Buddhist beliefs, Shugendō 修験道 practices, and Fudō Myōō's fierce aspect. Danjūrō I also expressed his devotion by writing plays about Fudō... in which Fudō rescues the main human characters. He played the role of Fudō, and his descendants continued the tradition. By linking his acting style to attributes of Fudō and explicitly appearing as the deity in performance, Danjūrō I fostered a public perception that he was channeling the power of the god. The author of Yakusha zensho 役者全書 (All About Actors), a compilation of stories about Kabuki actors from 1774, described Danjūrō I's acting style as follows:

His eyes looked exactly like Fudō['s], frightening; the pupils would remain fixed for an extraordinarily long time. He was certainly inspired by the spirit of the god.


Scholten Japanese Art in New York says that this scene is "...from the play Shinpan kosohi no shiranami (Newly Published: Bandit of the River Crossing), the second part of Genji Moyo Furisode Hinagata (Model for a Robe in Genji Pattern).

They also noted: "The rescue of Hiranoya, who is clutching Fudo's rope, is both a physical and a spiritual salvation. Danjuro played both roles by performing haya-gawari (lit. 'lightening costume change'). The Danjuro family worshiped the deity Fudo ever since an early Danjuro prayer to the god for a child was answered. Their yago (house-name) is for that reason 'Naritaya,' and the actors regularly performed misogi (a ritual purification associated with Fudo) at the Shinshoji waterfall."