Igagoe norikake gappa (The horse advance through Iga Pass: 伊賀越乗掛合羽) 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 of an Igagoe mono 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 the theatrical adaptation, Karaki Masaemon is a martial arts master who teaches under the lord of Koriyama Castle, Konda Naiki. Masaemon is recruited to leave Naiki to join in a revenge against Matagorô who murdered his wife's father, Wada Yukie. Masaemon fears that winning a scheduled kendô (lit., way of the sword, or fencing: 剣道) match against Matagorô's uncle, as expected, will reveal his skill and make his lord reluctant to allow him to leave, so he loses on purpose, which brings taunts from Naiki. When his lord stabs at him with a naginata (long spear: 長刀 or 薙刀), Masaemon grabs the lance; Naiki then permits Masaemon to join the vendetta.
This view is of an especially intricate tachimawari (lit., standing and going around: 立回り), a choreographed fight scene in kabuki. Here, RIkan II takes center stage as he subdues an adversary by pinning him under a tatami floor board.
The colors, especially the fugitive purple, are nicely preserved on this impression.
References: IBKYS-II, no. 436; KNP-6, p. 283