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Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)

Print: The Horse (Uma - 午): Omiwa (おみわ) from the series
Selections for the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac (Mitate Jūnishi - 美盾十二支)

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Dates: 1845,created
Dimensions: 9.75 in,14.0 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print
Inscription:

Signed: Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga
一勇斎国芳画
Artist's seal: kiri
Publisher: Iseya Sōemon (Marks 156 - seal 21-146)
Censor's seal: Mura

Related links: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; British Museum; Waseda University; Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts; Google maps - location of the Ataka barrier site; Waseda University - 1859 Toyokuni III print of Omiwa in the same dance routine; Waseda University - a close-up Kunichika of an actor in the same pose - the center panel of a triptych;

Physical description:

Omiwa is said to be dancing on a bridge near the Ataka barrier in order to secure safe passage.


The complete series of twelve prints

The Ataka barrier plays an important role in the 12th century history of Japan and its later adaptations for Noh and Kabuki theaters. At Tourism Ishikawa it states:

With a storyline based at this historical spot, the Kabuki Performance of "Kanjincho" and the Noh Performance of "Ataka" help make the "Ataka-no-seki"site famous and popular. The story took place in 1187 (Bunji 3), with the main character being Minamoto no Yoshitsune. After Yoshitsune distinguished himself in the battle of Heike and defeated the Taira Clan, Yoshitsune aroused anger of his brother, Minamoto no Yoritomo, and was hunt down by Yoritomo. Yoshitsune decided to flee and join the Fujiwara Family in the Hiraizumi (Tohoku area). With his servants and followers, the twelve of them disguised themselves as Buddhist monks and headed for the Ataka-no-seki checkpoint. Togashi Saemon Yasuie, who was the head of the gatemen at the Ataka-no-seki checkpoint, was touched by Benkei's (one of Yoshitsune's servants) courage and loyalty he paid to Yoshitsune when Yasuie saw through their disguises, so in the end Yasuie decided to let them go instead of turning them in to Yoritomo. The Barrier Site now is surrounded by pine trees and is located on a small hill facing the Sea of Japan.