Keisei ômonguchi (Courtesans at the great gate of the pleasure quarter: けいせい廓大門) was based on Namiki Sôsuke's Ômonguchi yoroigasane first performed in 12/1743. In that version, Shokurô plots to avenge the death of his father at the hands of Shinkurô. The Keisei adaptation was meant, in part, to feature the female characters. The design shown here highlights one of the memorable scenes when the three onnagata (lit., "woman's manner," male actors in female roles: 女方 or 女形) confront one another in the darkness.
In Hokushû's dramatic night scene — one of his finest triptychs — Nagisa and Shigarami flank their enemy, Kochô, who
turns her face away from the bright light of Nagisa's lantern (andon). Their encounter, a combination of dance and choreographed fighting
(tachimawari), featured the onnagata's skills in martial arts as the loyal women carried on the conflict engendered by their husbands.
A kabuki critique published the year after the 1823 Kado Theater production praised the actors and their performances in this scene.
Note: Another impression of this design is featured in the 2005-06 exhibition and catalogue "Kabuki Heroes on the Osaka Stage, 1780-1830"
at the British Museum, Osaka Museum of History, and Waseda University Theatre Museum.
References: IKBYS-I, no. 141; KNZ, no. 199; OSP, no. 64; KHO, no. 256; IKB-I, no. 1-422; KNP-6, p. 96