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Tawara Tōta Hidesato and Otohime from the series Twenty-Four Generals for the Katsushika Circle (Katsushika nijūshishō - 葛飾廿四将)

Identifier: 1821c Gakutei P533

"In the tenth century, the Dragon King who lived in Lake Biwa asked Minamoto no Hidesato, a celebrated archer, to kill a giant millipede. The millipede dwelt on Mt Mikami, a circular hill south-east of the village of Yasu in Shiga Prefecture, and was poisoning the lake so that it was unihabitable. Hidesato slew the creature and the grateful dragon gave him many gifts, including an inexhaustible bale of rice from which the hero took the name Tawara ('Rice Bale') Tōta. In Gakutei's picture, the dragon's daughter, Otohime, points towards the millipede. The poems contain puns on haru, 'Spring' to draw a bow'.

Azusayumi haru ya tachinu to mikamiyama yubisasu kata ni hiku harugasumi

'Spring has come; he draws the mist with his catalpa bow towards where the finger points at Mikami Hill

Bunsaisha Fudemaru

Kesa haru no tatsu no miyako ya shizukesa was yumi o fukuro ni osamareru miyo

'Today Spring comes to the dragon's palace too; the emperor's reign is as calm as a quiver of arrows'

Bunshitsuen Hanamori

Quoted from: The Art of Surimono: Privately published Japanese woodblock prints and books in the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin by Roger Keyes, vol. I, p. 85. There is also a small black and white illustration.


Printed with ink, color, mica, metallic pigment and embossing. No one knows who chose the theme for this series. However, it has been noted that a series of 24 generals is uncommon. Also, it should be pointed out that all of the prints in this series have the same background of decorative medallions enclosing stylized cranes.

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