Artist: Katsukawa Shun'ei (勝川春英)

Print: Act 8 of the Chūshingura (忠臣蔵八段目):
'The Wedding Journey' possibly through the pine forests of Miho

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Dates: circa 1790,created
Dimensions: 5.625 in,12.625 in,Overall dimensions

Signed: Shun'ei ga (春英画)
Publisher: Nishimuraya Yohachi
(Marks 391 - seal 01-008)
Censor's seal: kiwame

Related links: Ritsumeikan University - black and white only; Tokyo National Museum - a different representation of the same chapter; Waseda University - Shuntei actors' mitate; Waseda University - Toyokuni I print with scenes from three chapters; Portland Art Museum - a different composition of this same scene by Shun'ei;

Physical description:

This print is not the only time Shun'ei dealt with Chapter 8, 'The Bridal Journey', of the Chūshingura. Above is a link to another example, more elaborately portrayed, of the same act of this play. It is from the collection of the Tokyo National Museum.

In 1810 Shuntei created a similar composition, but this time it was an actors', (onnagata) Chūshingura mitate (役者見立忠臣蔵) with the background showing a visit to Enoshima. (See the link above to Waseda University.)

There are quite a few other similar representations of this act as portrayed by prominent artists such as Toyokuni I, Kunisada and Kuniyoshi, et al.


Donald Keene's translation of the eighth chapter is shown below:

NARRATOR: Who was it first spoke of the floating world? Like the pools of Asuka River, the clear sailing of the samurai quickly gives way to shoals, and they become "wave men" with nowhere to turn. Enya's crime has set a weir in the stream of love for the betrothed: Rikya, the fiancé of Konami, Kakogawa's daughter, refuses now even to accept the engagement presents, and the jilted girl abandons herself to gloomy thoughts; but at her mother's suggestion they set off for Yamashima, counting on the love of Rikya, the intended bridegroom, to gain them admission to his house. Uncertain whether he will marry her and live up to his obligations or continue to refuse, and fearful of gossip, mother and daughter leave together, taking neither servant nor palanquin, and set their course for the capital. In the cold air Konami's snowy skin is tinged with the color of the winter plum blossom, and her fingertips are numb with chill as they climb Frozen Slope and head for Satta Pass. She looks back and sees the smoke from Fuji disappearing traceless into the sky; her own uncertainty will be dispelled only she sees the gate fires* lit to celebrate her marriage. They past the pine forest of Miho and next they see along the avenue the pines of a great procession that crowds the road. She does not know whose procession this is, but feels envy as she thinks, "If things were as they used to be, I should now be traveling in just such splendor and luxury for the great occasion of my life."

*Gate fires "were lit at the gate of a bride's house, apparently as a sign she was not to return!"