Utagawa Yoshitaki (歌川芳滝) (artist 1841 – 1899)
Arashi Rikan IV (嵐璃寛) as the spirit of Okiku (お菊ノ霊) in Banshū sarayashiki [播州皿屋鋪] from Gojo no uchi: Shin ("Five Virtues: Faith" [五情之内:信])
6.875 in x 9.5 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese woodblock print
Signed: Yoshitaki ga (芳瀧画)
Heiko Seivers - a keyblock print for this design
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - Hiroshige print of Okiku
Lyon Collection - an 1878 Chikashige diptych with Okiku as a ghost
Japan Arts Council This print commemorates a performance at the Naka Theater in the eighth month of 1867.
Osaka Prints wrote: "The bunraku play Banshū sarayashiki was first staged in 1741, a ghost play (kaidan mono) about the spirit of the maid Okiku haunting a well at Banshū in Harima province. The dramatization was apparently based on some historical figures.
Details of the story vary, but in one familiar adaptation Okiku commits suicide by drowning herself in a well after being unjustly accused of breaking a precious plate, one of ten belonging to Aoyama Tessan, a hatamoto (shogunal retainer or bannerman). (Other versions depict Okiku breaking one of the plates and being imprisoned by Aoyama, or being murdered by him after rejecting his amorous advances, but all lead to her death.) Her specter then appears at the well each night, counting from one to nine, then letting out an anguished wail without ever reaching the number "ten." Only when Mitsakuni Shōnin, a family friend, calls out the final number to acknowledge her innocence is Okiku's spirit appeased."
Later they said: "[Okiku] holds a sacred lotus (hasu) as petals fall around her, a sign of the maid's transformation in Buddhist heaven."
Another version of the Okiku story
"The story of O-Kiku appears to be based on popular urban legend. The basic story revolves around a maid who breaks on plate from a set of ten highly prized by her master. The accident results with the maid dead and her body in a well, from which her spirit arises every night, slowing [sic] counting from one to nine and giving a hideous screech when she reaches the number ten. The story was made into plays for both the puppet and Kabuki theatres. In some versions the master kills the maid in anger; in others his severe upbraiding leads her to drown herself."
Quoted from: The Hundred Poets Compared: A Print Series by Kuniyoshi, Hiroshige, and Kunisada by Henk Herwig and Joshua Mostow, p. 130.
Kyōto-Osaka prints (kamigata-e - 上方絵) (genre)
actor prints (yakusha-e - 役者絵) (genre)
Arashi Rikan IV (四代目嵐璃寛) (actor)