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Archive: Hirosada (廣貞)

(R) Kataoka Ichizô I as Jirôzô and (L) Kataoka Gadô II as Heiji in Seishû Akogi ga ura, Chikugo theater, Osaka; Print Title: Akogi monogatari
No artist seal
No publisher seal
(H x W)
Chûban nishiki-e diptych
25.0 x 36.6 cm
Excellent color and condition (album backing)
Price (USD/¥):

Inquiry: HSD38


The play Seishû Akogi ga ura (勢州阿漕浦) involves the ailing mother of Akogi no Heiji. She has been ill for three years when Akogi hears of a rare fish called yagara that will supposedly help her. Unfortunately, fishing in Akogi Bay has been banned because it is part of the imperial shrine at Ise, so Akogi must resort to poaching at night. When he first casts his net, he brings up a precious sword. Although determined to continue, he is stopped by a local poacher named Heiga no Jirozô, who raises the alarm in the hope of casting suspicion for his own poaching onto Akogi. The two struggle, but all Jirozô manages to take is Akogi’s raincoat and sedge hat, which has his name on it. Later, the village headman Hikosaku confronts Akogi, who throws the official out of his home. Akogi then reveals his transgressions to his wife Oharu, also telling her that he recognizes the sword as one named "Totsuka," sought after by her father, the general Tamura. In the denouement, Jirozô kills Hikosaku to prevent him from reporting Akogi, confessing that he once worked for Akogi’s father. He also announces that his foster father was responsible for the loss of the sword, which was why he was fishing in the bay. When police finally arrive, Jirozô gives himself up, taking the blame for stealing the sword and thereby freeing Akogi.


This diptych is titled Akogi monogatari (A tale of ancient righteousness: 阿古義物語) in the carotuche at the upper right. In the present scene, the two protagonists are engaged in the struggle during which Akogi will lose his straw raincoat and sedge hat (seen behind Jirozô). Note, too, the crumpled piece of paper on the ground between them — this might be the paper with Akogi's name written upon it, now separated from his hat.

This design is notable for its atmospheric printing, the storm clouds being particularly effective. The mie (climactic poses: 見得) are also well rendered. Jirôzô's flamboyant tattoo (irezumi: 入墨) features the head of a long-haired female who clenches a scroll in her teeth.

References: IKBYS-IV, no. 409; NKE, p. 563