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No. 25 Yawata (八幡):Ōmi Kotōda (近江小藤太) and Yawata Saburō (八幡三郎h)
from the series Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaidō Road
(Kisokaidō rokujūkyū tsugi no uchi - 木曾街道六十九次之内)

Identifier: 1852 Kuniyoshi yawata

"Two prints in the series show incidents from The Tale of the Soga Brothers (Soga monogatari), the story of two young brothers who, in the late twelfth century, avenged the murder of their father at the cost of their own lives. The emotional resonance of these events captured the imagination of the public, and the story became a staple in the repetoire of many kinds of entertainments, including ballad singing, storytelling, and plays in the nō, kōwakami, puppet, and kabuki theaters.

Yawata is both the name of a station on the Kisokaidō and the surname of a minor character in the tale, Yawata Soburō. He and his companion, Ōmi Kotōda, are the henchmen of Kudō Suketsune, the villain of the story, who orders them to kill his kinsman Itō Sukechika is a powerful lord who is always surrounded by armed followers. Eventually, Sukechika attends a hunting party at Okuno with his son Kawazu Sukeyasu, the father of the young brothers for whom the tale is named. The border of the series title shows hunting equipment: a stirrup, bow, hat, quiver, and so on.

On the way home from the hunt, the two assassins ambush Sukechika's party. The print shows them lurking in wait, as the banners of a lord's procession appear in the distance. They miss Sukechika but shoot his son Sukeyasu, who, however, is able to identify them as the killers before he dies. Sukeyasu's brother kills Yawata and Ōmi in revenge, but the true villain, Kudō Suketsune, goes unpunished for many years. At last, the two sons of Sukeyasu, called the Soga brothers because they are adopted into the Soga clan wehn their mother remarries, achieve their long-term goal by killing their family's enemy...

The outline of the inset landscape is in the shape of the special crest (mon) used for kabuki costumes and props in the many plays that deal with the story of the Soga brothers."

Quoted from: Utagawa Kuniyoshi: The Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaidō by Sarah E. Thompson, p. 66.


Here is the description of Yawata from Hiroshige.org:

The post town of Yawata was only 2 km from Shionata. The distance between the stages was the shortest on the Kisokaido Highway. Besides, Yawata has the smallest number of inns among all the post towns on the Kisokaido.
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