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Two book covers, ebyōshi (絵表紙) forming a diptych of The Heroic Tales of Jiraiya (Jiraiya Gōketsu Monogatari - 児雷也豪傑物語), Chapter 36

Identifier: 1845c Kuniyoshi Kunisada ehon

Jiraiya is killing huge snake. Behind him is a sorcerer, possibly Tenjiku Tokubei, atop a giant origami toad.

This diptych is from a 43 volume set of illustrated books (kusazōshi). It bears the signatures of both Kuniyoshi and Toyokuni III (Kunisada). The characters within circles, 下 and 上 are the characters for “the second volume” and “the first volume”, respectively.


Six different Utagawa artists took part in illustrating this series of ehon published over about 25 years. They were Kunisada, Kuniyoshi, Kuniteru, Kunimori, Yoshifusa and Yoshiiku. The only non-Utagawa artist was Ikeda Eisen.

There are two red cartouches in the upper right of the left-hand cover, the one with the magician standing on the origami toad. The cartouche on the left reads: Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga (一勇斎国芳画).

The cartouche to the right of that first cartouche gives the author's name: Ryūtei Tanehiko (柳下亭種員: 1807-1858).


On each book cover are identifying characters for which is the first one and which the second. In a web site run by Ben Bullock it says: "If there are two volumes, they are labelled jōkan (上巻) or just jō (上) for the first volume, and gekan (下巻) or just ge (下) for the second."

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