• Ichikawa Kodanji IV (市川小団次) as  Kurotegumi no Sukeroku (黒手組ノ助六) - left panel of a diptych
Ichikawa Kodanji IV (市川小団次) as  Kurotegumi no Sukeroku (黒手組ノ助六) - left panel of a diptych
Ichikawa Kodanji IV (市川小団次) as  Kurotegumi no Sukeroku (黒手組ノ助六) - left panel of a diptych

Utagawa Kunisada (歌川国貞) / Toyokuni III (三代豊国) (artist 1786 – 01/12/1865)

Ichikawa Kodanji IV (市川小団次) as Kurotegumi no Sukeroku (黒手組ノ助六) - left panel of a diptych


9.5 in x 14 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese color woodblock print
Signed: Toyokuni ga (豊国画)
Publisher: Sakanaya Eikichi (Marks 442 - seal 24-007)
Date seal: 3/1858
Waseda University
Waseda University - right-hand panel Sukeroku is engaged in a battle with Horii Shinzaemon. This scene, the Hanagata Rokkakudo, commemorates a performance of the play Edo Zakura Kiyomizu Seigen (江戸櫻清水清玄) which was staged at the Ichimuraza in the 3rd month of 1858 in Edo. According to Kabuki21: "This second part was a parody of the famous drama 'Sukeroku' written in a more realistic style especially for the actor Ichikawa Kodanji IV, who played the roles of Seigen and Sukeroku. The actor wanted to perform the role of Sukeroku in the eponymous drama but was prevented to do it because of his short size."

Scholten Japanese Art, using information provided by Kabuki21, said of the full diptych that "In the scene, the hero, Sukeroku, is confronted by the villain, Shinzaemon, who Sukeroku has offended by proxy when he took Shinzaemon's disciples to task over their bullying and harassment of an innocent old man. Although Sukeroku had been trying to exercise restraint, he is compelled by honor after he realizes that Shinzaemon is the murderer of his father and is now in possession of his father's sword, a precious family heirloom. Sukeroku plans his revenge and lies in wait for Shinzaemon near the Komagata shrine in Asakusa and ambushes him when he sees him leaving the Miuraya tea house. Their battle takes place in the adjacent Sensoji Temple grounds in front of a stone statue of Jizo (protector of travelers and children). Sukeroku is ultimately triumphant and recovers the family sword."


The term 'Kurotegumi' (黒手組) means 'the Black Hand Gang' and it was led by our hero, Sukeroku.


At the Japan Art Council there is a summary of a closely related play. "This play is one of the “Kabuki-Juhachiban” (Eighteen Kabuki Pieces), and is commonly known as “Sukeroku.” "

"The story of this play concerns Soga no Goro Tokimune, who has become a kyokaku (a self-styled chivalrous person) known as Hanakawado no Sukeroku, and goes in and out of the Yoshiwara red-light district in search of a sword called Tomokirimaru, a treasure of the Genji clan. Sukeroku is in love with a courtesan from the Miura brothel named Agemaki, and has heard that an old man named Ikyu who spends a great deal of money in Yoshiwara has the sword, which he takes back."

"The performance is nearly two hours long, and during this time a variety of roles appear on stage, including a sake seller [actually Sukeroku’s elder brother Soga no Juro] whom Sukeroku teaches to start fights, Sukeroku’s mother Manko, who warns Sukeroku against fighting and gives him a kamiko (paper kimono), and Kanpera Mombei and Asagao Sempei, Ikyu’s followers who provoke a fight with Sukeroku and lose to him - this play does not bore its audience."


There was another copy of this print in black and white reproduction, stolen by the Nazis from David David-Weill, later restored to his heirs.
Ichikawa Kodanji IV (四代目市川小団次: spring 1844 to 5/1866) (actor)
actor prints (yakusha-e - 役者絵) (genre)
Sakanaya Eikichi (魚屋栄吉) (publisher)
Soga brothers (曾我兄弟) (genre)