Keisei Sano no Funabashi was one of Osaka kabuki's adaptations of an Edo ningyô jôruri (puppet play) titled Yûshoku
Kamakurayama (1789). Based on actual events from 1784 involving an administrator named Tanuma Okitsugu and the killing of his son Okitomo by a bannerman
samurai (hatamoto) named Sano Zenzaemon. The playwright was compelled — due to censorship against portraying current events involving the
shogunate — to transplant the story back in time (he decided on the twelfth century), where he has Miura Arajirô and his father Yasamura foiled in an assassination
plot. When Arajirô insults Genzaemon at a temple ceremony, Genzaemon slays him inside the Shogun's palace, a grievous offense leading to Genzaemon's
ritual suicide (seppuku).
The hero Sano Genzaemon raises his short sword (wakizashi) a moment before slaying the villain Miura Arajirô. The contrast between the yellow-checkered
background and the two figures, plus the startling purple robe with its billowing, oversized sleeves and long trousers (nagahakama), make this a memorable design.
The colors are well preserved except for the fugitive purple along the edges where light and humidity affected the sheets while mounted in an album.
Inscriptions on each sheet indicate that this was a fund-raising event at the Goryô Shrine Theater and that the performances were very big hits (ôatari,
References: IKBYS-I, no. 126; SCH, no. 53; TWOP, no. 25; NKE, p. 716