• Keyamura Rokusuke (毛谷村六助) struggling with three <i>kappa</i> on a riverbank with another swimming in the river
Keyamura Rokusuke (毛谷村六助) struggling with three <i>kappa</i> on a riverbank with another swimming in the river
Keyamura Rokusuke (毛谷村六助) struggling with three <i>kappa</i> on a riverbank with another swimming in the river

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳) (artist 11/15/1797 – 03/05/1861)

Keyamura Rokusuke (毛谷村六助) struggling with three kappa on a riverbank with another swimming in the river


ca 1843 – 1845
9.5 in x 14.4 in (Overall dimensions) color woodblock print
Signed: Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga
Publisher: Tsutaya Kichizō (Marks 556 - 23-059)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
British Museum
Lyon - another example
National Museum of Asian Art
Lyon Collection - Rokusuke watching a sumo match between kappa
Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen (Rijksmuseum Volkenkunde, Leiden) via Ritsumeikan University
Kunstpalast Düsseldorf "Rokusuke came from the village of Keyamura situated at the foot of Mount Hikozan in Buzen province. He was a skilled fighter and a good son to his parents. Commander Katō Kiyomasa took him as one of his sixteen generals to Korea.

In Kōyōen Shūjin's kabuki drama Horrible Excusions Rokusuke was dramatically staged for the first time in 1791 in a wrestling match with the water sprites. One day, as the six-cubit-wide Rokusuke was on his way home with a bundle of rushes, he met a thumbling who measured just less than two cubits and challenged him to a wrestling match. The combative Rokusuke agreed. Yet the thumbling suddenly became just as big as he was and, what is more, as hard a s steel, and he was so smooth that it was impossible to get hold of him. Without hesitation, Rokusuke grabbed his opponent by the belt and threw him to the ground. The latter yelled and leapt into the river. Soon, thirty water sprites emerged and clung to Rokusuke. In his distress, he called out to the mountain god Hikozan for help, who raised a wind that dried up the water sprites."

Quoted from Samurai Stars of the Stage and Beautiful Women: Kunisada and Kuniyoshi, Masters of the Color Woodblock Print by Hatje Cantz, Museum Kunstpalast, p. 195. It is illustrated here in color.

Kantz adds: "This sheet belongs to the early edition of the series; later prints exhibit blue cartouches. In Kuniyoshi's series Japanese Swordsmen (publisher: Kazusaya Iwakichi), published four years later, there is a sheet bearing the same title depicting Rokusuke's encounter with the thumbling.


Elena Varshavskaya wrote about Kida Magobee Muneharu in Heroes of the grand pacification: Kuniyoshi's Taiheiki eiyū den, footnote 44.1:
Famous strong man from Buzen province, situated on Kyūshū island. Tradition preserved a number of legends about him, all of them dealing with the period of time when he still bore the name Keymura Rokusuke. Though his biography on the print does not mention a victory reportedly held by him over kappa, malicious water creatures, it includes a phrase recounting Rokusuke's explots glorified in the Kabuki play Hikosan gongen chikaino sukedachi... So famous was Rokusuke's physical strength that two texts on the print from the series tell about historic victory gained over him in a sumo contest...


1) in a small black and white reproduction in Kuniyoshi: The Warrior Prints by B. W. Robinson, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 1982, p. 101. S1e.4.

2) in a small black and white reproduction in Masterful Illusions, University of Washington Press, 2002, #239, page 336.
warrior prints (musha-e - 武者絵) (genre)
Tsutaya Kichizō (蔦屋吉蔵) (publisher)
Yūrei-zu (幽霊図 - ghosts demons monsters and spirits) (genre)
Katō Masakiyo (加藤正清) (role)
Keyamura Rokusuke (毛谷村六助) (role)