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

Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国) (artist 1786 – 01/12/1865)
Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳) (artist 01/01/1797 – 04/14/1861)

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


1841 – 1865
9.25 in x 6.875 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese woodblock print

Signed on the left cover: in the lower left (something) Toyokuni ga (??豊国画)
in the upper right Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga (一勇斎国芳画)
Waseda University - full volume illustrations
Waseda University - right-hand cover
Waseda University - left-hand cover
Lyon Collection - Yoshitaki painting of Tenjiku Tokubei
Lyon Collection - Toyokuni III print of Tenjiku Tokubei
Lyon Collection - Toyokuni III triptych with a Tenjiku Tokubei theme

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."
picture book (ehon - 絵本) (genre)
warrior prints (musha-e - 武者絵) (genre)
magicians (mahōtsukai - 魔法使い) (genre)
Yūrei-zu (幽霊図 - ghosts demons monsters and spirits) (genre)
Jiraiya (自来也) (role)
Tenjiku Tokubei (天竺徳兵衛) (role)