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Hirosada (廣貞)

(R) Jitsukawa Enzaburô I as Watanabe Shizuma; (L) Nakamura Utaemon IV as Ishidome Busuke in Keisei homare no sukedachi, Naka Theater, Osaka
Hirosada (in gold-color brass pigment under bridge on right sheet)
No artist seal
No publisher seal
(H x W)
Chûban diptych nishiki-e
25.1 x 35.6 cm
Excellent (with metallics and embossing)
Excellent color and very good condition (two sheets joined with album backing, very small hole in R sheet, just below bridge pillar)
Price (USD/¥):
$400 / Contact us to pay in yen (¥)

Inquiry: HSD26 


We have not been able to find the plot for the play Keisei homare no sukedachi (A courtesan: Honor with two swords: けいせい誉両刀). It appears to be an adaptation of a real life vendetta in 1634 at Iga Ueno when Watanabe Kazuma slayed Kawai Matagorô, the murderer of his father, Watanabe Yukie, killed four years earlier. Kazuma was aided by his brother-in-law, the master swordsman Araki Mataemon.

Dramatizations of Watanabe's vendetta took various forms, categorized as Igagoe mono (Igagoe plays: 伊賀越物). The Iga katakiuchi mono (plays about revenge killings: 敵討物) consititute one of the three most frequently performed stories, the others being Chûshingura mono (plays about the treasury of loyal retainers, or "Forty-seven rônin": 忠臣藏物) and Soga mono (plays about the Soga brothers: 曾我物). The first known kabuki staging took place in 1725 (Iga Ueno katakiuchi) in Osaka. Bunraku staged its first performance in 1776. Igagoe norikake gappa (1777) written by Nagawa Kamesuke, was staged for bunraku in 1778, and presented for kabuki in Edo (1784) and Osaka (1793). The standard version, a ten-act drama scripted by Chikamatsu Hanj with Chikamatsu Kasaku in 1783 for the Takemoto puppet theater, Osaka, is Igagoe dôchû sugoroku (Crossing at Iga along a sugoroku journey: 伊賀越道中双六). In English, the story was retold by Algernon B. Mitford (Lord Redesdale, 1837-1916) in Tales of Old Japan, where it is called Kazuma's Revenge.


In Keisei homare no sukedachi, Watanabe Shizuma's faithful retainer, Ishidome Busuke, loses his life fighting for their master during the vendetta. The scene shown here depicts a mortally wounded Busuke, felled before a bridge, as Watanabe listens to Busuke's final words.

Busuke's blood was applied with a light pink undercoat overprinted with a darker red colorant, its soft edges mimicking the soaking of blood into his garments. Hirosada's diptych offers an unexpectedly poignant depiction of samurai violence from a perennially staged revenge drama.

References: WAS III-6, no. 244; KNP-6, p. 529; NKE, pp. 211-214