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Archive: Hokushû (北洲)

(R) Asao Yûjirô as Sano Genzaemon and (L) Ichikawa Ebizô I as Miura Arajirô in Keisei Sano no Funabashi, Goryô Theater, Osaka
Shunkôsai Hokushû ga
No artist seal
Toshin (Toshikuraya Shinbei)
(H x W)
Ôban nishiki-e
37.0 x 52.5 cm
Very good impression
Mostly very good color (some fading of purple only at edges); Mostly good condition (some rubbing; a few stray marks; album binding holes along adjacent vertical edges)
Price (USD/¥):
Inquiry (Ref #HKS18)

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, ôatari).

References: IKBYS-I, no. 126; SCH, no. 53; TWOP, no. 25; NKE, p. 716