The plot of Keisei hanabusa zôshi (Courtesan: A storybook blossom: けいせい英草紙 also けいせい英双紙) is so far unknown to us. This particular production was featured as a drama for the New Year.
This is a collaborative print (gassaku: 合作) or collective work for which more than one artist is responsible for the design. Gassaku are uncommon, especially from the earlier period of Osaka printmaking. In Kamigata (Osaka-Kyoto region), gassaku were typically of two types: (1) a shared work by a master and his students, and (2) a collaboration among artists of equal status, as in our example.
This scene is emblematic of kabuki's tachimawari (lit., "standing and going around," i.e., choreographed fight scenes: 立回り). Using a long pole to fend off the actor Ichizô while also subduing an unnamed walk-on actor partly visible under Shijaku's robes, the onnagata (lit., "woman's manner," i.e., male actors in female roles: 女方 or 女形) displays his skill in performing stylized and synchronized (dance-like) movements in a stage fight.
References: IKBYS-III, no. 92 (2 sheets only)