This play was written by the superstar actor Nakamura Utaemon III, who revised an earlier drama by Namiki Gohei (1747-1808), an important Osaka-born playwright. The story involves an attempt to overthrow a master archer named Koshino Kanzaemon, more than one murder, romantic entanglements, an archery contest, and a lost heirloom arrow.
The courtesan Kachô (whose name means "flowers and birds") holds a small hour-glass shaped hand-drum (kotsuzumi). She wears a court hat called an eboshi secured under her chin
with long cords ending in tassles. Yukienosuke's headgear is simply a folded cloth (hachimaki) wrapped around his head with the knot tied off-center and
the ends falling down the side of his face. Such cloths were made of hand towels (tenugui) cut to several different standard lengths and widths (more or
less determined by the capacities of weaving machines). In kabuki the hachimaki typically served as symbolic props that "absorbed perspiration"
and indicated that the characters were bent on some kind of vigorous action.
The poem inscribed above Kachô (signed Tamikuni) reads: Nururu ma de / mizu ni ari se no / yanagi
kana, which mentions the willow (yanagi), whose branches can be seen at the top of the design.
Provenance: Okada Isajiro (岡田伊三次郎) — a celebrated private Japanese collection not seen in public for more than 70 years until its gradual dispersal starting in the year 2000 — a
blockbuster event in the world of kamigata-e; see KAM).
References: IBKYS-I, no. 32; KNZ, no. 260; KNP-6, p, 110; IKB-I, no. 1-430; TWOP, p. 94