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Archive: Ashiyuki (芦幸)

(R) Sawamura Kunitarô II as Ushiwakamaru and (L) Arashi Kitsusaburô as Kumasaka Chôhan in Kachidoki mibae Genji, Naka Theater, Osaka
Gigadô Ashiyuki ga
No publisher's seal
Honsei (Honya Seishichi
(H x W)
Deluxe ôban nishiki-e
25.0 x 35.7 cm
Very good with metallics (simulated gold and silver)
Very good impression and color; good condition (tiny binding holes along bottom; unbacked; slight soil/rubbing near edges)
Price (USD/¥):
Inquiry (ASY14)

Ushiwakamaru was the childhood name of the legendary Genji general Minamoto no Yoshitsune (1159-89). Kumasaka Chôhan was a notorious bandit whose exploits have been popularized for centuries in the folk tales and legends of Japan. Most famous were his attacks against travellers in the Province of Mino, where there was a pine tree approximately 20 meters high from which it was possible to spy upon the unsuspecting and rob them of their luggage and valuables. One day Kumasaka's outlaw band attacked Ushiwakamaru — a lad of sixteen who had run away from the temple where he was being educated and was traveling with a merchant's retinue. He soundly defeated the thugs, displaying astonishing swordsmanship and slaying 13 of them. When Chôhan attempted to dispatch the youth himself, he failed, suffering many wounds as Ushiwakamaru danced and leapt about, easily parrying the blows from his adversary. This legend became the subject of a drama entitled Kumasaka, as well as a popular subject in songs, dances, and kabuki dramas.


Ushiwakamaru is depicted leaping away from Chôhan's deadly thrust. In keeping with his age and former lodging in a temple, his hair is styled in a chigo-mage (page's chignon). The large pine used by Kumasaka can be seen behind the adversaries, painted in a softer Shijô-school style. The halberd (naginata) held by Chôhan forms an effective graphic element running across the width of the sheet. The poem is signed by Rikkaen and reads Tsuranuki shi / chikara mo tsuyoshi / shimobasgira (a spike of frost pushes through to show its power), an allusion to Ushiwakamaru's youth, which belies his great strength and skill in the martial arts.

References: IKBYS-I, no. 271; KNP-6, p. 158; IKB-I, no. 2-405; OK, no. 57