Artist: Natori Shunsen (名取春仙)

Print: Ichikawa Ennosuke II as Ikeda Kakutayū from the play
The Diary of Tōyama, the Cherry-blossom Tattooed Magistrate
(Tōyama zakura Tenpō nikki)

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Dates: 1927,created
Dimensions: 10.75 in,15.75 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print

Signed: Shunsen
Artist's seal: Kajicho
Date: Shōwa Ni Nen Yoshun Saku
Publisher: Watanabe Shōzaburō

Related links: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; National Gallery of Australia; British Museum; Honolulu Museum of Art; Waseda University; National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; Freer/Sackler Galleries;

Physical description:

The diary of Tōyama, the cherry-blossom tattooed magistrate (Tōyama zakura Tenpō)

Written by Takeshiba Kisui, first kabuki performance in 1893.

The diary of Tōyama features the mid-nineteenth century magistrate and playboy Tōyama no Kinsan in a play about Tokyo criminals. Tōyama was famous for his distinctive cherry-blossom tattoos, and has been immortalised in literature, kabuki,television and film. Set in the Tenpō era (1830-44), the play reflects the dissatisfaction with policing and justice in the late nineteenth century, when it was written.

A merchant plans to kill himself with his lover, Nobuwaka, but cannot go through with it. He turns to a life of crime, renaming himself Yūten Kozō. Meanwhile on is way to the entertainment quarter, the priest Tengaku is mistaken for wanted criminal Ikeda Kakutayū and arrested. Strangely, Tengaku befriends the real Kakutayū in prison and the pair escape together. The fugitives later meet up with Yūten Kozō and swear to be brothers for life.

Some years later, Kakutayū has been thieving disguised as a blind masseur. When his ex-wife discovers this, she admonishes him. Kakutayū, dressed as a masseur, murders her. He is later captured during a robbery and put on trial. The judge questions his identity, suggesting he may really be Tengaku, who is still wanted for breaking out of jail. Confusion erupts and Kakutayū seizes the opportunity to abscond.

The magistrate Tōyama Kinshirō (Tōyama no Kinsan) is appointed to investigate the disastrous trial. He discovers that the judge had assumed that Kakutayū was the falsely accused priest and planned to help him. This leads Tōyama to delve into Tengaku's case. Nobuwaka, a prostitute since the attempted joint suicide, provides evidence, as does her former lover, the thief Yūten Kozō. Tengaku is pardoned for his jailbreak, while Yūten Kozō and Kakutayū end up in custody."

Quoted from: Stars of the Tokyo Stage, published by the National Gallery of Australia, p. 96. There is a color reproduction on p. 97.


This print is from an edition of 150.



1. In a small black and white illustration in Modern Japanese Prints by Dorothy Blair, #148.

2) In color in color in 名取春仙, 1991, p. 41.

3) In black and white reproduction in The Japanese Print Since 1900: Old Dreams and New Visions by Lawrence Smith, p. 73.

4) in a quarter-page, black and white reproduction in The Art of Japanese Prints by Richard Illing, 1980, p. 162.


There is another copy of this print in the Toledo Museum of Art.