Artist: Utagawa Yoshitsuya (歌川芳艶)

Print: Yorimitsu Tries to Capture Hakamadare by Destroying His Magic
(Kijutsu o yabutte Yorimitsu Hakamadare o karamen to su -

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Dates: circa 1860,created
Dimensions: 30.0 in,14.75 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print

Signed: Ichieisai Yoshitsuya
Publisher: Tsutaya Kichizō
(Marks 556 - seal 03-004)
Date: 4/1858

Related links: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Waseda University - left panel; Waseda University - middle panel; Waseda University - right panel; Victoria and Albert Museum; Manggha Centre of Japanese Art and Technology, Krakow - center and right panels only; Database of Folklore Illustrations; National Diet Library - go to #15; National Gallery of Victoria; University of Vienna; Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil - center panel only; Hankyu Culture Foundation - right panel; Hankyu Culture Foundation - center panel; Hankyu Culture Foundation - left panel;

Physical description:

"This [triptych] is the most famous work of Yoshitsuya. Minamoto-no-Raikō and his retainers are alarmed at the sight of a ferocious fight between a huge snake and a giant bear manipulated by the thief Hakamadare's magical powers. This work, executed in 1858, is a satire on the political turmoil of that year."

Quoted from the English Supplement for Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collectons 5: Victoria and Albert Museum II, #97, p. 6.


Also illustrated in 1) in color in 原色浮世絵大百科事典 (Genshoku Ukiyoe Daihyakka Jiten), vol. 4, pp. 118-119.

And in 2) in black and white in Chimi moryō no sekai : Ukiyoe : Edo no gekiga--reikai, makai no shujinkō-tachi (浮世絵魑魅魍魎の世界: 江戶の劇画 : 霊界魔界の主人公たち) by 中右瑛 (Nakau Ei), Ribun Shuppan, Tokyo, 1987, p. 56. [The text is entirely in Japanese.]

And in color in 3) in Ukiyoe Museums in Japan (Nihon no ukiyoe bijutsukan - 日本の浮世絵美術館), vol. 3, pp. 150-151.

4) in color in Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collection 5: Victoria and Albert Museum II, Kodansha, 1989, #97.


The University of Vienna writes of this triptych:

"In general, this print is said to caricature the shogunal succession dispute featuring the potential candidates Yoshinobu and Yoshitomi. The powerful magician Hakamadare personifies Tokugawa Nariaki, who is the leader of the Hitotsubashi party and daimyō of the Mito domain. The bewitched giant snake symbolizing Nariaki’s son Hitotsubashi Yoshinobu is chasing a little, black creature which is meant to be Tokugawa Yoshitomi, aged only twelve, who was the daimyō of the Kishū domain and part of the Nanki party as well as the 14th Shōgun Iemochi. Minamoto Yorimitsu (Raikō) represents tairō Ii Naosuke, who pushed the young Yoshitomi to becoming shōgun. The giant snake is not just depicted as a terrifying creature but at the same time it is powerful and gorgeous.

The proportions of the depicted figures and their correlation is confusing because the powerful Raikō (Ii Naosuke) is illustrated as a very small figure, despite the fact that he is winning the battle against Hakamadare (Nariaki, who lost the shogunal succession dispute). Probably, this print was issued just before or after Ii Naosuke became tairō on the 23rd day of the 4th month, when Ii’s handling of power and succession issues were still uncertain. In Yoshitsuya’s version of the power struggle, the Hitotsubashi party appears superior, but Yoshitsuya seems to sympathies with the Nanki party, who in the end won the struggle."


Other copies of the middle and right panels are from a group of 116 prints which were given by a private collector to the Real Academia Nacional de Farmacia in Spain.


There is another copy of this triptych at the Ōta Museum of Art.