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Archive: Sadanobu (貞信)

Nakamura Hajô (中村巴丈) as Uekiya musume (Uekiya's daughter) Oichi (植木屋娘 おいち) in Gishinden yomikiri kôshaku (Reciting an all-in-one [complete] tale of righteous men, 義臣伝読切講釈), Naka Theater, Osaka
Hasegawa Sadanobu (長谷川貞信)
No artist seal
Tenki (Tenmaya Kihei (天満屋喜兵衞)
(H x W)
ôban nishiki-e
37.4 x 25.4 cm
Excellent color, unbacked; filled binding holes along left edge, reinforced lock on make-up tansu
Price (USD/¥):

Inquiry: SDN54


The most famous revenge tale in the kabuki and puppet theaters is Kanadehon chûshingura (Copybook of the treasury of loyal retainers: 假名手本忠臣蔵), often called simply "The Forty-seven Rônin." One of the adaptations is titled Gishinden yomikiri kôshaku. Although the play is set in Asakusa, Edo, it is considered to be a Kamigata kyôgen. It is commonly entitled "Uekiya" ("The Gardener," 植木屋 in English). Oichi is the sister of Uekiya Mokuemon who works at the Somei Gardener shop. She is enamored of Yashichi, but he treats her indifferently.

The play focuses on the plot by the rônin (masterless samurai, 浪人) to obtain the layout of the mansion belonging to the Kô no Moronao who goaded their lord En'ya Hangan into a serious breach of decorum, ending in his ritual suicide, called seppuku (lit., "Incision of the abdomen," 切腹). The person who succeeds in this intrigue is Otaka (also called Oran-no-kata), the secret lover of the curio-shop (dôguya, 道具屋) owner Koharuya Yashichi. Otaka is a koshimoto (lady's maid, 腰元) and the concubine of the villain Kô no Moronao, who sacrifices herself in order to infiltrate Moronao's palace. After much effort she manages to steal a map of the palace grounds, which she presents to Yashichi. To end her shame over becoming Moronao's concubine, she takes her own life in a kago (lit., "vehicle basket," a palanquin: 駕籠 or just 駕) during her return to the palace.


The actor named here as Nakamura Hajô (中村巴丈 1815-1847) is a rarely depicted performer in kamigata-e whose biography remains unknown (as far as Nojima Jusaburô 野島寿三郎 could determine; see KJJ ref. below). The actor wears a rather elaborate robe, indicating that the role of Uekiya's daughter Oichi involves a maiden from a wealthy chônin (town-person, 町人) or merchant family.

This is a very uncommon print; we know of only one other impression.

References: HSH, no. 56; KNP-VI,, p. 407; KJJ, p. 480