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

Print: Onoe Shōroku I (尾上松緑) as the ghost of Princess Osakabe (刑部姫) haunting Hayakawa Takakage on the battlements of Himeji Castle (姫路城) - Osakabe henka Onoe Shōroku (おさかべ変化尾上松緑) - this is the top half of a vertical diptych

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Dates: created,1814
Dimensions: 10.0 in,15.0 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print
Inscription:

Signed: Kunisada ga (国貞画)
Publisher: Yamaguchiya Tōbei
(Marks 591 - seal 15-005)
Censors' seals: Iwato and kiwame

Related links: Ritsumeikan University - the full diptych in black and white;

Physical description:

This print represents a scene from the play Matazoro Shōroku Osakabe banashi (Shōroku's Revival of the Story of Princess Osakabe - 復再松緑刑部話) staged in the fifth month of 1814.

One child was so frightened by the spectacle of the princess that he wrote: "I was so terrified [of the spectre] I tried to get away... It was awful not being able to escape because of the huge crowd."

Quoted from: Kunisada: Imaging Drama and Beauty by Robert Schaap, p. 75. This is accompanied by color reproduction of this diptych from the Royal Museum, Brussels.

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"Onoe Shōroku (1744-1815) was famous as a performer of ghost roles. Here he appears as the sixteen-foot-high apparition of Princess Osakabe.... The part of Osakabe required a great deal of strenuous physical action, and the seventy-year-old Shōroku was criticized for taking it on when he was past his best. This spectacular scene was performed in 5/1814. It tells the story of the ghost of Princess Osakabe haunting the warrior Hayakawa Takakage at Himeji castle.

"One eyewitness account by a child included in a critique stated: 'I was so terrified [of the spectre] I tried to get away... It was awful not being able to escape because of the huge crowd."

Quoted from: Kunisada: Imaging Drama and Beauty by Robert Schaap.

The play became one of the ten favorite plays of the Onoe family, compiled by Onoe Kikugorō V (1845-1903) during the Meiji period (1868-1912) in reaction to the so-called Eighteen Plays (Kabuki jūhachiban) established by Danjūrō VII as the repertory restricted to the Ichikawa family."

Quoted from Kunisada's World by Sebastian Izzard.