Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)

Print: Seki Sanjūrō III (関三十郎) as Mikawaya no Giheiji no Obaa (三河町の義平次お婆ア) and Bandō Shūka I (坂東しうか) as Danshichi Okaji (団七お梶) on the left

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Dates: 1852,created
Dimensions: 9.75 in,14.0 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print

Signed: Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga
Artist's seal: kiri
Publisher: Yamaguchiya Tōbei
(Marks 591 - seal not listed)
Censors' seals: Hama and Magome
Date seal: 5/1852

Related links: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Victoria and Albert Museum; Waseda University - left panel; Waseda University - right panel; British Museum; Lyon Collection - another Kuniyoshi diptych version of this scene;

Physical description:

This is a particularly curious diptych which shows the wife of Danshichi Kurobei about to slay Danshichi's mother-in-law. Acts of violence by women in Japanese prints are not unknown, but this one is different in that it replaces the figure of Danshichi, who often can be seen wearing a red and white plaid garment, about to kill his father-in-law Goheiji. This is simply a gender substitution. Sadly, we don't know what the play this scene is from, but the parallels are more than evident.

Of course, this situation raises a number of questions which as of now we are unable to answer. If Okaji is about to slay Goheiji's wife, does that mean that she about to kill her own mother? Or, had her mother died and been replaced by a step-mother? We will try to answer this question after further research.


This impression ex B.W. Robinson collection


From the play Shinzō Tsurifune kidan performed at the Ichimura Theater in the 5th month of 1852. The title may read: 新造艣奇談 (しんぞうつりふねきだん), but we have yet to confirm this.