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

Print: Bandō Mitsugorō IV (坂東三津五郎) as Gokuin Sen'emon (極印せん右衛門),
No. 4 (四) from the series Five Manly Men of the Present Day
(Tōsei gonin otoko - 当世五人男)

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Dates: after 1835,created
Dimensions: 10.0 in,15.25 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print

Signed: Kōchōrō Kunisada ga
Artist's seal: double toshidama in red
Publisher: Kawaguchiya Shōzō (Marks 231 - seal 25-355)
Censor's seal: kiwame

Related links: Lyon (another example);Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Waseda University; Japan Arts Council - full set published by Sanoya Kihei; Hankyu Culture Foundation - 1st edition with fan cartouche;

Physical description:

Originally published 1835 by Sanoya Kihei (Marks 446 seal 25-210) with the series title in the upper right on a fan, this example was (later) issued from the same blocks by Kawaguchiya Shōzō and omits the fan and adds a cloud band with gradation (bokashi).

The five actors and roles portrayed in the series (numbers are printed on the right above the censor and publisher's seals):

  1. Sawamura Tosshō I (Gennosuke II) as Karigane Bunshichi
  2. Onoe Kikugorō III as An no Heibe
  3. Ichikawa Hakuen (Danjūrō VII) as Kaminari Shokoro
  4. Bando Mitsugorō IV as Gokuin Senkichi (Sen'emon)
  5. Nakamura Shikan II (Utaemon IV) as Hotei Ichiemon

The example in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston was published by Sanoya Kihei in 1835

The inscription reads: 極印せん右エ門 はんとう秀佳


The real-life Gokuin Sen'emon ca. 1679-1702)

The real Gokuin Sen'emon was a punk, a thug. "Began career of violent crime in 1697; wounded about ten people over the next five years in Gokō-machi and Obama residential quarters, inside the licensed prostitute quarter, at the approaches to Nagahori Yotsu and Horie Sumiyoshi bridges, etc. Associated with Karigane Bunshichi from at least the Tenth Month of 1699. Arrested on the twenty-second day, Sixth Month, 1701, in connection with the investigation of Seven's Gang. Beheaded on the twenty- sixth day of the Eighth Month, 1702."

Quoted from: Osaka: The Merchants' Capital of Early Modern Japan in an essay by Gary Leupp, 'The Five Men of Naniwa: Gang Violence and Popular Culture in Genroku Osaka', p. 134. (JSV)