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Ken game of the Three Countries (Sangoku ken - 三国拳):
Nippon Amaterasu onkami,Tenjiku Shaka Nyorai, Morokoshi Taiseijin Kōshi

Identifier: 1850c Kuniyoshi comic
Description:

Left to right: Nakamura Utaemon IV representing China as Koshi (Confucius), Seki Sanjūrō III representing India as Shaka (the historical Buddha), Ichimura Uzaemon XII representing Japan as Amaterasu (the Sun Goddess).

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According to the Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften der Universität Wien the text reads:

Morokoshi no Kōshi wa / o-hige mo ki mo / nagaku / toki ni ahoki ga / haratsuzumi / Nippon ponpon / kami isame / sono mata araki o tenjiku no / chinmaru marumaru / shakarawanu / ten ni mo chi ni mo ware hitori / sorya mata ikken kachimashita / yoiyoiyoi

Japan Amaterasu Onkami
India Shakyamuni
China the great holy Confucius
Sangoku-ken

Confucius (Kōshi) from China (Morokoshi)
Long is his beard, long his patience
As he slaps his belly with a silly disposition
Nippon ponpon
Cautioning god with wild disposition
Shakyamuni from India, calm and round, offers no resistance
In heaven as on earth, I am the only one
And again I have won a game, yoiyoiyoi

"This print shows a man forming a circle with thumbs and index fingers (Amaterasu Ōmikami), a man pointing one finger to heaven and the other to the ground (Shakyamuni) and a man with a towel on his head gesticulating as if he were stroking his beard (Confucius).

In this print, the portraits of three popular actors are depicted, who made a name for themselves in the performance of the sangoku-ken (three-country-ken) in the play Shinki ikken tori no hatsu koe, which was staged on New Year's of Kaei 2 (1849) at the Ichimura-za kabuki theater. Seeing as the two censorship seals (Yoshimura, Muramatsu) of this print are dated December of Kaei 1 (1848), a month before the performance, it is obvious that this is a print pre-announcing the performance. Furthermore, there are nishiki-e with a similar motive including the sangoku-ken song beginning with the text “Omae onna no na de O-Ise-san” (You are a woman, by the name O-Ise).

Regardless of whether the publication occurred as a pre-announcement of or after the performance, there exist many prints of the sangoku-ken with these two songs in the inscription. Yet, one can assume that the song “Omae onna no na de O-Ise-san” was more popular, as the prints released after the performance with that song text were greater in number.

The three countries in the name three-country-ken refer to Japan (Amaterasu Ōmikami), China (Confucius) and India (Shakyamuni). After song and dance, a ken is played with a three-sided blockade, in which Japan defeats China, China defeats India and India defeats Japan."

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