Onoe Kikugorō III (尾上菊五郎) as the Ghost of Okiku (おきくノ霊) and Ichikawa Danjūrō IX (市川団十郎) as Asayama Tetsuzan (浅山鉄山) in <i>Banchō Sarayasaiki</i> [番町皿屋敷]

Morikawa Chikashige (守川周重) (artist )

Onoe Kikugorō III (尾上菊五郎) as the Ghost of Okiku (おきくノ霊) and Ichikawa Danjūrō IX (市川団十郎) as Asayama Tetsuzan (浅山鉄山) in Banchō Sarayasaiki [番町皿屋敷]


19 in x 14.5 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese woodblock print
Signed: Morikawa Chikashige hitsu
Publisher: Tamura Tetsujirō (田村鉄治郎)
(Marks 531 - seal 26-120)
Carver: Hori Yata (彫弥太)
Date: Meiji 11, 8th month, 12th day
明治十一年 八月 十二日
Tokyo Metropolitan Library
Shizuoka Prefectural Central Library
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Hiroshige print of Okiku
Lyon Collection - an 1867 Yoshitaki print of Okiku as a celestial figure "One of the earliest Kabuki plays features an onryo, which is a vengeful spirit. The play Bancho Sarayashi (1741) is based on an old Japanese folklore about a young woman named Okiku, who was a servant for the samurai named Asayama Tetsuzan. He lusts for Okiku and propositions her, but she refuses. He then tries to trick Okiku by telling her she lost one of the ten precious plates of Tetsuzan's family. She panics and Tetsuzan offers to make the problem go away by making her sleep with him. There are different variations to the ending with Okiku refusing and Tetsuzan throwing her down a well, to Okiku throwing herself down the well. Her ghost then appears nightly counting one through nine, and then shrieking and crying . . . driving Tetsuzan mad. Ways to combat this particular onryo have varied from saying the number ten after Okiku counts to nine (showing her that the tenth plate has been recovered and enabling her to move on.)

Being one of the older stories, it is also the most famous. Along with a Kabuki adaptation, the story has been adapted into puppetry as well, called ningyo joruri. The Kabuki adaptation was staged in 1824, and poor Okiku goes through much more turmoil than the Okiku in the folklore. In the Kabuki version, Tetsuzan still agrees to let go the mistake of the missing plate if she will become his lover. Okiku still refuses, but then Tetsuzan has his servant Iwabuchi torture her by hitting her with a wooden sword. Unfortunately, she is unable to escape her torture Unfortunately, she is unable to escape her torture because she doesn't know where the tenth plate is.

Tetsuzan then has Okiku strung up above a well, where she continues to be hit by Iwabuchi. Tetsuzan then propositions her again stating that if she helps him kill a man named Tomonosuke so that Tetsuzan may rise to power, he will let her go. Okiku again refuses, and Iwabuchi then has her dipped in the well repeatedly so that she may have a slow death. Eventually, Tetsuzan slashes Okiku with his sword and her body falls into the well. As he cleans his sword, he hears Okiku's voice counting dishes. Her ghost rises from the well, and Tetsuzan stares at her hatefully, and that is where the play ends."

Quoted from: The Haunted Actor by Alex Matsuo, pp. 39-40.


Another version of the Okiku story

"The story of O-Kiku appears to be based on popular urban legend. The basic story revolves around a maid who breaks on plate from a set of ten highly prized by her master. The accident results with the maid dead and her body in a well, from which her spirit arises every night, slowing [sic] counting from one to nine and giving a hideous screech when she reaches the number ten. The story was made into plays for both the puppet and Kabuki theatres. In some versions the master kills the maid in anger; in others his severe upbraiding leads her to drown herself."

Quoted from: The Hundred Poets Compared: A Print Series by Kuniyoshi, Hiroshige, and Kunisada by Henk Herwig and Joshua Mostow, p. 130.
Yūrei-zu (幽霊図 - ghosts demons monsters and spirits) (genre)
actor prints (yakusha-e - 役者絵) (genre)
Meiji era (明治時代: 1868-1912) (genre)
Onoe Kikugorō III (三代目尾上菊五郎: 11/1815-3/1848) (actor)
Ichikawa Danjūrō IX (九代目市川團十郞: July 1874 to 1903) (actor)
Tamura Tetsujirō (田村鉄治郎) (publisher)