Posthumous portrait of Arashi Rikan I (嵐璃寛) as Kiso Yoshinaka (木曾義仲) riding an ox as seen in the play <i>Gunpō Fujimi Saigyō</i> (軍法富士見西行)

Jukōdō Yoshikuni (寿好堂よし国) (artist )

Posthumous portrait of Arashi Rikan I (嵐璃寛) as Kiso Yoshinaka (木曾義仲) riding an ox as seen in the play Gunpō Fujimi Saigyō (軍法富士見西行)


9.5 in x 14.25 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese color woodblock print
Signed: Yoshikuni ga (よし国画)
Lyon (another example)
British Museum
Hankyu Culture Foundation - there is extra text in red
Royal Museums of Art and History, Belgium (via Cultural Japan) "When Arashi Rikan I died in September 1821 (Bunsei 4) at the age of fifty-three, numerous posthumous portraits were published, reflecting the great popularity of this handsome and elegant actor, particularly among women. This is one such portrait, portraying him as Kiso Yoshinaka, a role he played in 1809 (Bunka 6), twelve years before his death. In this scene, Yoshinaka heads for the entertainment district riding on the back of an ox after refusing to ride in a small ox-cart."

From the English Supplement to the Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collections: British Museum volume III, page 8.

There are a couple of things which have struck me about this representation. 1) Is the concept of Yoshinaka going to a pleasure district and anachronism. We know that prostitution is said to have been the world's oldest profession, but when did pleasure quarters, per se, show up in Japan? Yoshinaka was a 12th century warrior, for goodness sake. And 2) why ride on an ox? Perhaps this is a veiled reference to the Battle of Kurikaradani (倶利伽羅谷) in 1183 when Yoshinaka sent a group of bulls with flaming torches tied to their horns toward his enemy Taira Koremori, thus disrupting his enemy's forces.


The clan mon on the robe of Yoshinaka is the sasarindō. Mark Griffiths wrote in The Lotus Quest: In Search of the Sacred Flower on page 245: "The personal, rather than clan mon of Minamoto no Yoritomo was the sasarindō, a design in which three flowers of rindō (the Japanese gentian, Gentiana scabra or G. makinoi) sit above three leaves of the shrubby bamboo Sasa. The gentian was characteristic of the damp grassland flora of Southern Japan, while the bamboo was a signature plant of the North. This elegant posy is iconographic code for the shogun: the North is subjugated by the South; the country united under his military authority."


About the historical figure Kiso Yoshinaka

"Although Yoritomo became the de facto hegemon of warrior affairs as a result of the Genpei War, the position was very much in contention during the conflict itself. His most serious rivals were members of his kin group, and two of them posed critical challenges to his claim to both clan and warrior headship. The first of these was his cousin, Kiso Yoshinaka (1154-1184) , an ambitious provincial warrior who had been raised in Shinano by a hereditary retainer after his father's death in 1155. Although Yoshinaka's mobilization of troops began, like Yoritomo's, in response to Prince Mochihito's call to arms, Yoshinaka represented a much more immediate threat to the Taira, since he was closer to the capital. The Taira dispatched a punitive force to control him, which he defeated at Kurikara and Shinohara. In 1183, he entered the capital, where he routed the Taira and, according to the Heike, was welcomed as a savior by Retired Sovereign Go-Shirakawa and the central aristocrats. Shortly after his arrival, however, his ruthless appropriation of supplies in the famine-weary capital region, compounded by his inability to navigate the vicissitudes of high-level political life, resulted in his alienation from both capital dwellers and Yoritomo, who feared his cousin's ambitions. With the sanction of the retired sovereign, Yoritomo sent forces from Kamakura to punish Yoshinaka, who died in battle on the shores of Lake Biwa in 1184, little more than six months after his triumphant arrival in the capital The forces defeating him were under the command of two of Yoritomo's brothers — Yoshitsune and Noriyori."

Quoted from: Swords, Oaths, And Prophetic Visions: Authoring Warrior Rule in Medieval Japan by Elizabeth Oyler, p. 60.

Another author writes:

"The early thirteenth century work Heike monogatari 平家物語 (The Tale of Heike) also has an episode depicting the capital people's contempt for provincials'. It concerns a man from the eastern province, Kiso Yoshinaka 木曽義仲, who comes to the capital and behaves in ways considered crude and insensitive by the capital people. In Chapter eight, in a section titled 'Nekoma,' the manners and speech of Kiso Yoshinaka are described:

Kiso no Yoshinaka, the present protector of the capital, were rude and vulgar beyond description. Nothing else was to have been expected, of course. What knowledge of civilized deportment could have been acquired by someone who had lived in the Shinano Mountains at Kiso from the time he was two until he was thirty?
Quoted from: Heterogeneous Japan: The Cultural Distinctions Between Western and Eastern Japan by Yuko Marshall, pp. 16-17.



1) in color in Ikeda Bunko, Kamigata yakusha-e shūsei (Collected Kamigata Actor Prints), vol. 1, Ikeda Bunko Library, Osaka, 1997, no. 332. [The example given in this volume shows the sky in the upper background filled with text printed in red.]

2) in a full-page color reproduction in Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collections: British Museum III, supervised by Muneshige Narazaki, Kodansha Ltd, 1988, #122.

3) in two color reproductions in Kabuki Heroes on the Osaka Stage 1780-1830 by C. Andrew Gerstle, University of Hawai'i Press, 2005, page 222, #203. This catalog points out that this copy which is trimmed somewhat at the top which shows partially "...the character ko ('the late') before Rikan's name, indicating it was issued as a memorial print." The catalog also notes that this print must have been published "After [the] twenty-seventh day of the ninth month, 1821."
Honya Seishichi (本屋清七) (publisher)
Arashi Kitsusaburō I (初代嵐橘三郎: from 1/1821 to 9/26/1821) (actor)
actor prints (yakusha-e - 役者絵) (genre)
Kyōto-Osaka prints (kamigata-e - 上方絵) (genre)
Minamoto Yoshinaka (源義仲) (role)
shini-e (死絵) (author)