Artist: Shunbaisai Hokuei (春梅斎北英)

Print: Nakamura Shikan II (中村芝翫) as Sōjō Henjō (僧正遍照) from a quick-change dance of Six Poetic Immortals (Rokkasen - 六歌仙)

Bookmark and Share
Dates: 1834,created
Dimensions: 10.5 in,15.0 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print

Signature: Shunbaisai Hokuei ga
Publisher: Tenmaya Kihei (Marks 536 - seal 21-0193)

Related links: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Kansai University; Metropolitan Museum of Art - Buddhist's vestment or kesa; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - 19th century kesa; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Utamaro print of a beauty with an inset of Sōjō Henjō; Lyon Collection - Shigeharu print of the 6 poetic sages;

Physical description:

According to the entry in the The Princeton Companion to Classical Japanese Literature on p. 163 Henjō (816-890?) was not really that significant a poet. However, he is considered so because he was listed with five other poets in Ki no Tsurayuki's preface to the Kokinshū "...and is included as well as one of hte thirty-six poetic worthies (sanjūrokkasen)."


There are at least two prints in the Lyon Collection which portray Sōjō Henjō. The other print is by Shigeharu, #574, and it shows a grouping of all six poets from the same kabuki production.

Notice that part of the priest's robe or kesa (袈裟) is made up of patched fabrics. In reference to a kesa in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art it says:

This robe, an example of a Buddhist vestment (Japanese: kesa; Sanskrit: kashaya) meant to distinguish the clergy from laypersons, is made from a woven textile that was cut up and reconfigured into a rectangular, bordered patchwork. As such, these garments embody both a form of pious donation and the practice of recycling textiles. The labor-intensive practice of piecing together fragments of cloth into specific columnar layouts was itself considered an act of religious devotion.


Sōjō (僧正) means 'high Buddhist priest'.


One of an incomplete set of six actor prints from the play Rokkasen Sugata no Saishiki (六歌仙容彩) at Kado Theater, 1/1834.

Bibliography: Kitagawa, "Bosuton bijutsukan shozô Kamigata-e mokuroku" (Kansai daigaku, 2007), p. 101; Kitagawa et al 2006, #6; referenced in Keyes 1973 on p. 134.


According to a Kansai University pdf, item #6, this print should be considered as one of a pair with a print of Ariwara no Narihira (在原業平). See the link above.