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Archive: Hirosada (廣貞)

Ichikawa Sukejûrô as Sasaki Takatsuna in Kamakawa sandaiki, unknown theater (probably mitate)
No artist seal
Circa mid 1849 (mitate)
(H x W)
Deluxe chûban nishiki-e
24.0 x 16.2 cm
Very good (deluxe edition with metallic pigments)
Excellent color, very good condition (slight trimming in top margin through fingertip, as is most often the case; very faint soil in a few small areas; remnant of thin paper backing)
Price (USD/¥):
Inquiry: HSD28

Kamakura Sandaiki (Chronicle of three generations in Kamakura: 鎌倉三代記), a ten-act puppet play (ningyô jôruri: 人形淨瑠璃), premiered in 3/1781 at the Hizen-za, Edo. Kabuki staged it for the first time in 9/1794 at the Kado no Shibai, Osaka; it appeared much later in Edo (2/1818 at the Nakamura-za). The play is based on the battle between Hideyoshi Toyotomi and the Tokugawa forces during the siege of Osaka Castle in 1615. It chronicles those events while setting the action back in the Kamakura period (1185-1333) to avoid the Tokugawa shogunate's censorship against staging recent historical events involving the ruling samurai class. So the names of the protagonists were changed: Hôjô Tokimasa was used for Tokugawa Ieyasu, Sakamoto Miuranosuke for Kimura Shigenari, Sasaki Takatsuna for Sanada Yoshimura, and Sasaki Moritsuna for Sanada Nobuyuki. Sakamoto Castle in Kyoto was used instead of Osaka Castle.

The plot has Sasaki Takatsuna, a general in the Genji clan, fighting the Heike clan at the battle for Sakamoto Castle. He also has a split allegiance to a Heike princess, Toki-hime, and the Genji warrior Sakamoto Miuranosuke, who are lovers. Prevented by their rival clans from marrying, Toki-hime and Miuranosuke hatch a plot to kill Toki-hime's father (the Heike general Hôjô Tokimasa) so that she can be accepted into Miuranosuke's family. Takatsuna comes to their aid when he kills a spy set on revealing the plot. A tragic ending ensues, however, after Miuranosuke dies from wounds suffered in battle and Takatsuna mistakenly beheads Toki-hime; Takatsuna then takes his own life.


This design, the center sheet of a triptych, is one of the most sought-after sheets in Hirosada's oeuvre. It was used for the cover of Hirosada: Osaka Printmaker (1984), by Roger Keyes. The preservation of the gold-color brass is especially fine. Trimming of the fingertip in the top margin is the usual state of surviving impressions.

No performance with its particular group of actors (the remaining two were Nakamura Daikichi III as Toki-hime and Arashi Rikaku II as Miuranosuke) has been found in surviving kabuki records for the Osaka theaters, although there was a performance with a slightly different cast at the Minami no Shibai in Kyoto in 8/1849. Thus it is likely that Hirosada's design is a mitate-e (analogue picture: 見立絵) depicting a fictional casting.

References: IKBYS-IV, no. 189; NKE, p. 264