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Arashi Kichisaburō II (嵐吉三郎) as Prince Koretaka (惟喬親王) on the right and Nakamura Utaemon III (中村歌右衛門) as Katō Masakiyo (加藤正清) in Hachijin Shugo no Honjō [Eight Battle Arrays to Protect Honjō Castle - 八陣守護城]

Identifier: 1821 Hokushu double bust

There are three prints in the Lyon Collection showing Utaemon III as Katō Masakiyo. Each shows him in the same dramatic costume and is said to date from ca. 1820. The other two are another one by Hokushū and one by Yoshikuni.


"Both actors were very popular rivals, but they did not act together for some twenty years. Utaemon III and Kichisaburo II are shown here together because they announced to have planned to act together in a play in the autmn 1821.

On this print the actors are shown in roles of different kabuki plays of 9/1820 and it must have been published at that time or somewhat later. Arashi Kichisaburō II changed his name 3/1821 to Kitsusaburō I, so the print is published before that date, since the actor's name on it is Kichisaburō....

The announced joint performance never took place, because of Kitsubaburō's sudden death in 9/1821." This is quoted from Ōsaka Kagami 大阪鏡 by Jan van Doesburg, p. 22.

The example shown in the van Doesburg volume has a publisher's seal for Oki. The examples in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and illustrated in Schwaab and in The Theatrical World of Osaka Prints by Roger Keyes show no publisher's seal.

On page 66 of Keyes' The Theatrical World of Osaka Prints it says: "This double half-length portrait was perhaps the first oban print of its type to be published in Osaka. There are at least three states of the print, although the order of their issue is uncertain. One has a yellow ground; one has an uncolored ground and some signs of wear; another with uncolored ground bears the mark of the publisher Tamaoki."


Illustrated: 1) In black and white in Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collections: Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire, Brussels, vol. 9, Kodansha, 1989, p. 205, #132.

2) In Catalogue of Japanese Art in the Náprstek Museum published by The International Research Center for Japanese Studies: Nichibunken Japanese Studies Series 4, 1994, p. 140.

3) In color in Ukiyoe Museums in Japan (Nihon no ukiyoe bijutsukan - 日本の浮世絵美術館), vol. 5, p. 147. This example is from the collection of the Ikeda Bunko Library. They give the play title as Hade Kurabe Isemonogatari, Hachijin Shugo No Honjo.


The historical figure Prince Koretaka (惟喬親王: 844-897)

The eldest son of the emperor Montoku. He became a bonze. Was also known as Ono no Miya and was considered a distinguished poet. Ariwara no Narihira was one of those who were his attendants.

Helen Craig McCullough noted that "...Koretaka, was his father's favorite, but he failed to win nomination as crown prince because his backing was less powerful than that of the emperor's fourth son, Prince Korehito (Emperor Seiwa)." His father's favorite consort was Ki no Shizuko

The Koretaka episodes in the Tale of Ise formed the basis for a new model of male friendship in Japanese literature and culture.

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