• Arashi Rikan II as Miyamoto Musashi in the snow in the play <i>Katakiuchi Nitō Eiyuki</i> [復讐二島英雄記]
Arashi Rikan II as Miyamoto Musashi in the snow in the play <i>Katakiuchi Nitō Eiyuki</i> [復讐二島英雄記]
Arashi Rikan II as Miyamoto Musashi in the snow in the play <i>Katakiuchi Nitō Eiyuki</i> [復讐二島英雄記]
Arashi Rikan II as Miyamoto Musashi in the snow in the play <i>Katakiuchi Nitō Eiyuki</i> [復讐二島英雄記]
Arashi Rikan II as Miyamoto Musashi in the snow in the play <i>Katakiuchi Nitō Eiyuki</i> [復讐二島英雄記]

Gigadō Ashiyuki (戯画堂芦ゆき) (artist )

Arashi Rikan II as Miyamoto Musashi in the snow in the play Katakiuchi Nitō Eiyuki [復讐二島英雄記]


9.75 in x 14.5 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese color woodblock print
Signed: Gigadō Ashiyuki ga
Publisher: Izutsuya Denbei (Marks 186 - seal 07-030)
Metropolitan Museum of Art - a slightly different printing
Hankyu Culture Foundation
Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire (via Ritsumeikan)
National Museum of Asian Art Osaka Prints wrote of an earlier edition of this print:


The play Katakiuchi nitô no eiyûki (A tale of revenge and great courage on two islands: 復讐二島英勇記) was based on the historical Miyamoto Musashi (c. 1584-1645; 宮本 武蔵), whose name meant "Storehouse of military knowledge." Also an author, Musashi wrote Gorin no sho (The Book of Five Rings: 五輪書), a treatise on military tactics, strategy, and philosophy. He was a legendary swordsman and the son of the celebrated fencing master Yoshioka Tarozaemon, a retainer of the Ashikaga shôgun Yoshiteru. Musashi was a bold and reputedly reckless adventurer, although he survived armed combat more than 60 times and died a natural death. Katakiuchi nitô no eiyûki was one of many popular tales of vengeance and retribution, an example of the theatrical genre of "revenge plays" called katakiuchi mono (敵討物) or adauchi mono (仇打ち物). In one such incident, Musashi avenged the murder of his father by despatching his killer with a wooden sword, a lethal weapon in the hands of a master swordsman. Musashi's exploits took him into the mountains during winter, when he is often depicted, as in Ashiyuki's design, carrying or wearing a straw hat and padded jacket.


The Kabuki nenpyô... mentions that in one scene, Rikan exited the main stage by walking down the hanamichi, and when half-way down he gestured as if descending into a valley. That is the same scene shown here in Ashiyuki's design. This is also the moment shortly before Musashi encounters Kasahara Rôô (the legendary fencing master Kasawara Bokuden), from whom he will learn advanced fighting techniques.

The poems are signed by Rikkaen and Rikan, respectively, reading:

Na no hana ni / hikkurumetaru / sekai kana
(The whole world is covered / by the yellow flowers / of the rapeseed).

Yuku michi o / saguri ashi nari / oborotsuki
(Walking along the path, / I feel my way with my feet, / night of the veiled moon).

This is one of the most admired works by Ashiyuki and is much sought after by collectors. This impression has the hand-stamped seals of two publishers, Honsei (Honya Seishichi) and Kawaji — a joint production that appears to have preceded a slightly later edition from Iden (Izutsuya Denbei 井筒屋傳兵衞...). Moreover, the hand-stamped seal of the distinguished block carver Yama Kasuke in the lower left corner adds further cachet to this design, signaling an early impression."


The curatorial files at the Metropolitan Museum of Art give a slightly different translation of the second poem. According to them it says:

Along the path I pursue,
my feet find the way
beneath the misty moon.


Dean Schwaab in Osaka Prints, p. 154, says:

"This print gives neither actor nor role. It is very delicately but clearly printed, with the grass cloak in gauffrage and the dark robes richly overprinted with metallic brocade patterns. The quiet, softly shaded snowscape, with the hint of spring in the running water and bird, perfectly offsets the foreground figure. The poems are written in silver and seem to fade into the snow. They celebrate the spring season."


It should be noted that the example of this print in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum shows the same publisher's seal as the one in the Lyon Collection, but slightly to the right. That is probably because it was hand-stamped onto the print after the end of production.


It has been suggested that the bird that Musashi is staring at is a wagtail.


In another, but related print by Toyohide of Musashi in a similar setting but in a variant play from 1843, Osaka Prints wrote: "In one scene from that play, Musashi adroitly uses a wooden sword — a deadly weapon in the hands of a master — to slay the murderer of his father. In another legend, Musashi challenged his long-time rival and expert swordsman Sasaki Kojirô (佐々木 小次郎, also known as Ganryû Kojirô, (1585? – April 13, 1612; his fighting name Ganryû meaning "large rock style" 巌流) to a duel on the remote Ganryû Island (at Funashima, the strait between Honshû and Kyûhsû). Legendary or not, Kojirô is considered Musashi's most formidable opponent, and the last one he killed. In the duel, Musashi is said to have fashioned a very long wooden sword (bokken 木剣 or bokutô 木刀) from an oar while traveling by boat to the arranged duel."



1) In Ikeda Bunko, Kamigata yakusha-e shūsei (Collected Kamigata Actor Prints), vol. 1, Osaka, 1998, no. 301.

2) In color in Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in European Collections: Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire, Brussels, vol. 9, Kodansha, 1989, #245.

3) in color in Osaka Prints by Dean J. Schwab, Rizzoli, 1989, page 154, #146.


The tachibana is an Arashi family crest

The tachibana or mandarin orange crest is often seen on the clothing or accessories of the Arashi line of actors. It appears on this print in the blue of the lower part of Rikan's outfit, but it too subtle to see without great magnification. However, in other printings of this image, such as those in the Met and in Brussels, it is more apparent. That is why we have added a comparison of a detail of this part of his robes in copies from the Lyon Collection and the Met. Two mandarin oranges are shown in a repetitive diamond lozenge motif.
Izutsuya Denbei (井筒屋伝兵衞) (publisher)
Arashi Rikan II (二代目嵐璃寛: 9/1828 - 6/1837) (actor)
Kyōto-Osaka prints (kamigata-e - 上方絵) (genre)
actor prints (yakusha-e - 役者絵) (genre)
Miyamoto Musashi (宮本無三四) (role)