Kachôfugetsu (花鳥風月), "Flowers, birds, wind, and moon," was a popular subject for paintings and prints of the Edo period. In Hirosada's grouping, titled Kachôfugetsu no uchi (Series of flowers, birds, wind, and moon: 華鳥風月の内) with an alternate kanji for ka (flower), the actors are portrayed in contexts associated with the four themes, each named in large ideograms in cartouches: (1R) Ka (花) Falling cherry blossoms behind Ishikawa Goemon; (2R) Chô (鳥) Two birds at the feet of Jihizô; (3R) Fu (風) Wind blowing the rain diagonally and forcing the waves to crest and crash upon the shore by ryôshi (fisherman: 漁師) Amishichi; and (4R) Getsu (月) Full moon above Hirai Gonpachi.
The plays can be idenitified as follows: (1R) Ishikawa Goemon is a featured role in Keisei ishikawazome (A courtesan in dyed Ishikawa colors: けいせい石川染), one of the many Ishikawa Goemon mono (plays about Ishikawa Goemon: 石川 五右衛門物). For more, see another print by Hirosada (HSD41). (2R) Honchô nijûshikô (Twenty-four filial paragons of the empire: 本朝廿四孝) premiered as a jôruri (puppet play: 淨瑠璃) in 1766. It was based on intrigues involving the Takeda and Uesugi (Nagao) clans after the murder of the shôgun Ashikaga Yoshiteru. (3R) Keisei hanabusa zôshi (Courtesan: A storybook blossom: けいせい英草紙 also けいせい英双紙) had a plot that is unknown to us.; (4R) Sangoku daiichi nochi no kusemono (三國大市川対恋) was one of so-called Tenjiku Tokubei mono (Plays about Tenjiku Tokubei: 天竺徳兵衛物) from the puppet and kabuki theaters. They featured adaptations of the Tenjiku Tokubei monogatari (Tale of India: 天竺徳兵衛物語) about a Korean-Japanese sailor who traveled far from Japan, a rare occurence during the Tokugawa period. For more, see another print by Hirosada (HSD33).
As usual for prints of this period, the actors are not named on the sheets, nor are the plays, which are inferred from the role names. The Tenpô Reforms (Tenpô kaikaku: 天保改革) were edicts initiated by Mizuno Tadakuni (1774-1851), chief councilor (rôjû: 牢中) to the shôgun Tokugawa Ieyoshi. In 7/1842 they banned actor prints in Osaka, virtually halting print production in Kamigata for five years. A gradual weakening of enforcement ensued despite reiterations in 1844 and 1845 by the government of its intention to continue the reforms, and by 1847 relatively normal print production had resumed, although printmakers remained cautious for nearly a decade afterwards.
We offer here a rare opportunity to acquire a complete deluxe set of these designs — plus as an added bonus, a standard edition impression (without metallics) of the "wind" sheet.
References: IKBYS-4, no. 131