The play Katsuragawa renri no shigarami (Union by the weir in the Katsura River: 桂川連理柵) was one of many shinjû-mono (double suicide plays), possibly based on a retelling of actual events. Obiya Chôemon, a married, 40-year-old obi merchant in Kyoto, falls in love with Ohan, his neighbor's 14-year-old daughter, and their affair results in her pregnancy. Chôemon's stepmother and stepbrother Gihei object to the liason and try to discredit Chôemon — with the goal of substituting Gihei in his place as family heir. They confront Chôemon with a love letter written by Ohan and addressed to "Chô." Chôemon's wife, Okinu — remaining loyal to her husband — knows of the affair and the letter, and persuades a young clerk whose name, Chôkichi, uses the same first character, to pretend to be the intended recipient and falsely confess. The ruse works, but later a despairing Ohan leaves hurriedly. Chôemon runs out after her as far as the gate, but then returns to examine a letter she has left behind. He reads that Ohan has decided to kill herself, and he vows to join her in death. Soon afterwards the lovers drown themselves in the Katsura River.
Little is known about the artist Sadayoshi. He was a writer using the name Baisôsen Kinkin and a print designer whose personal name was Higoya Sadashichirô (living in Shimanouchi, Osaka). He used various gô, including Baisôsen, Gofûtei, Gohyôtei, Kaishuntei, and Kokuhyôtei.
The title cartouche reads Mitate meoto awase e nishi no shiragami: (Imaginary performance: A picture of a husband and wife joined together at the weir). The inscription on the right side of the post reads Tenpô jûsan tora nen shôgatsu kaihan [...] (Published 1st month, 13th year of Tenpô, Tiger year ...).
Despite the popularity of shinjû-mono in the popular culture, scenes from these plays are rather uncommon in Osaka printmaking, unlike their frequent appearance in woodblock prints from Edo.
References: IBKYS-III, no. 186.