Arashi Rikan II (嵐璃寛) as Oguri Hangan Kaneuji (小栗判官兼氏) and a young unrecorded actor as his servant - from the play <i>Hime Kurabe Futaba Ezōshi</i> ['Picture-book comparison of twin blades and the princess': 姫競双葉絵草紙]

Utagawa Nobukatsu (歌川信勝) (artist )

Arashi Rikan II (嵐璃寛) as Oguri Hangan Kaneuji (小栗判官兼氏) and a young unrecorded actor as his servant - from the play Hime Kurabe Futaba Ezōshi ['Picture-book comparison of twin blades and the princess': 姫競双葉絵草紙]


10.5 in x 15.5 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese woodblock print

Signed: Sadamasu monjin Nobukatsu ga
Drawn by Nobukatsu, pupil of Sadamasu
Publisher: Tenki (Tenmaya Kihei)
(Marks 536 - seal 21-193)
Ritsumeikan University - black and white reproduction
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Hankyu Culture Foundation - with a bright yellow ground
Lyon Collection - Hokuei print of Oguri Hangan
Lyon Collection - Shigeharu print of Oguri Hangan
Náprstek Museum

The inscription reads: まはゆしや花のあたりのこの日の出.

This print represents a performance by Arashi Rikan II at the Naka Theater in 1/1833 for the play Hime Kurabe Futaba Ezōshi. This play was first performed in 1800.

This artist studied first under Shigeharu. In 9/1829 he changed his name Nobukatsu and became a pupil of Sadamasu in the early 1830s.

"There are not many prints known of this artist. The one shown here is one of his best. Mainly because of the luxurious impression we speek [sic] here of ōban surimono-style, like we do with other Ōsaka prints of this type. Oguri Hangan was the son of Mitsushige, lord of Oguri, and celebrated for his horsemanship. He became paralyzed by a poisoned drink but was cured by Terute-hime, and later on he became a bonze in the temple Sōkoku under the name Sōtan. The adventures of Oguri Hangan and Terute-hime are described in the 'Oguri Monogatari'.

The seal added to the poem, shows the character 'Ren' (circle of poets) and has the shape of the actor's orange-blossom crest."

Quoted from: Ōsaka Kagami by Jan van Doesburg, p. 81. This is accompanied by a black and white reproduction.


The copy of this print in the Hankyu Culture Foundation has considerable differences from the one here in the Lyon Collection. Not only is the surrounding ground color a bright yellow, but it is done as only one field on this the two figures float and is not divided separately into an indistinct ground color, printed almost like a wash, meant to convey their location in space.

There are several differences in the costumes as well. However, the tachibana mandarin orange, a crest worn by member of the Arashi group, appears on the clothing of both versions. It should also be noted that the tachibana seal only appears at the end of the inscription on the Lyon Collection print, which is an indication that it is the earlier of the two.

The dark blue robe also has a running water motif, but the Hankyu version only shows a plain light blue ground. The Lyon Collection print makes use of the more expensive metallic inks. In the Hankyu version there is a red element to his upper garment, but here the color is more orange colored covered by a swastika motif. Hangan's glove here is blue, at the Hankyu it is white.

There are also considerable differences in the child's robes. Here the lower garment is made up of blue and white stripes. In the Hankyu version it is pink and yellow stripes. The lower part of the upper garment is different in both, too. A comparison of both prints is a great study in connoisseurship.



1) in Catalogue of Japanese Art in the Náprstek Museum published by The International Research Center for Japanese Studies: Nichibunken Japanese Studies Series 4, 1994, p. 105.

2) in color in 'The Joe Hloucha Collection of woodblock prints in the National Gallery in Prague' by Jana Ryndová, in Andon 104, November 2017, p. 10.


The Oguri legend has quite a long and complex history. Susan Matisoff wrote: "There are also intimations of Oguri as a deity born or re-born from a deeply polluted state. Oguri is a remarkable hybrid being, the human incarnation of a deity, with faint imperial overtones, yet for a time a frightenly marginal figure, a blighted, leprous cripple, like the most pathetic sorts of roadside beggar."

In one of the tales Oguri goes in search of a wife after having turned down 72 potential brides. While on this journey he is standing by a beautiful pond playing his flute. A water serpent hears him and sees the 16 year old Oguri and thinking him beautiful turns itself into an equally beautiful young woman. They spend the night together. In some of the accounts they bear a child. Anyway, it is this encounter which angers Oguri's father who exiles him to the home province of his mother. There Oguri is revered as a figure sent by the gods and is given the title 'Hangan.'

Matisoff in a footnote states: "In the Heian period Hangan was a tittle for an additional office held by officers in the rank of Gate Guard Lieutenant. But the time of this tale, it is bleached of specific meaning and simply indicates a vaguely military title."

In the original legends Oguri is even able to tame the man-eating horse, Dappled-Demon (Onikage - 鬼鹿毛). Only a godlike figure could have done that. But not everything was sweetness and light. Oguri and ten of his strongest supporters are poisoned by Oguri's father-in-law, Yokoyama. When Oguri appears before Emma-O he is judged wicked an is ordered to go down to the Hell of Warriors. Oguris's ten supporters were deemed innocent, but since their bodies had been cremated they could not be returned to the world of men. So, as compensation, Emma made them his 10 attendant kings.

In time Oguri's earthly tomb cracks open and a priest observes a pathetic figure of the not-quite deceased who he renames to protect him from future attacks by Yokoyama. Oguri then roams the earth looking very much like a leper and under the name Gakiami [餓鬼阿弥]. This frail figure is pulled by cart to a miraculous spring where he bathes and is restored to his original form. One of the persons who pulled the cart was Terute, Yokoyama's daughter and Oguri's widow. She doesn't recognize him.It is compassion which compels her.

After Oguri is restored to his former self he returns to the home of his parents. The recognizes his power and grants him control over 6 provinces, including Mino. It is there that Oguri is reunited with his wife who has led an abysmal life since his first earthly death by poisoning. When his natural death occurs at the age of 83 the gods and the buddhas come together to declare Oguri a god. His wife is also deified and becomes the goddess who unites lovers.


Note that Breen gives 'Gakiami' (餓鬼阿弥) as divided between 'gaki' a hungry ghost in Buddhist lore and the name Ami.


Kabuki21 lists 8 plays devoted to the story of Oguri Hangan. 7 of these predate the print in the Lyon Collection. One of them is a puppet play written by Chikamatsu Monzaemon from 1698, while another, also a puppet play, is by Sarakada Jisuke II from 1739.


There are five Osaka prints in the Lyon Collection which feature Arashi Rikan II in Hime Kurabe Futuba Ezōshi. two are by Hokuei, this one by Nobukatsu, one by Shigeharu, and one by Kunihiro. In two of the these prints Rikan plays a fisherman, in three of them he plays Oguri Hangan.
Arashi Rikan II (二代目嵐璃寛: 9/1828 - 6/1837) (actor)
actor prints (yakusha-e - 役者絵) (genre)
Kyōto-Osaka prints (kamigata-e - 上方絵) (genre)
Tenmaya Kihei (天満屋喜兵衛) (publisher)
Oguri Hangan (小栗判官) (role)