Kamakura sandaiki was a jidaimono originally written for the puppet theater. It chronicles in an updated fashion events linked with the
fall of Osaka Castle in 1615, but set back in the Kamakura period (1185-1333) to avoid the Tokugawa shogunate's censorship of staging recent historical
events involving the ruling samurai class. This drama has Sasaki Takatsuna, a general in the Genji clan, engaged in fighting the Heike at the battle for
Sakamoto Castle. The tale features disguises and assassination plots, and ultimately Takatsuna's own suicide after he mistakenly beheads a Heike princess
sympathetic to the Genji (by virtue of her engagement to a young Genji warrior named Sakamoto Miuranosuke).
Rikan strikes an expressive mie before a large pine tree under a black night sky. Note that his spear (naginata) has pierced the tree at the
top left. Rikan holds a black-lacquer folding fan (ôgi) with a red sun, symbol of Japan and also closely associated with samurai in combat.
This design probably depicts the scene in which Takatsuna tries to persuade Miuranosuke to return to battle.
Prints from Ise venues are a rarity. Sometimes Osaka actors (and less frequently, those from Edo) would travel there to cash in on the crowds of pilgrims
(see article) eager to witness plays performed at the shrine theaters.
The production of Ise prints was often sub-contracted in Osaka. Shigeharu's print was issued by Tenki, an Osaka publisher (note that a large secondary
publisher seal for Momenya Tôkichi is hand-stamped to the left of the Tenki publisher seal — see detail at right). Nevertheless, other
examples of Ise prints do indeed carry the imprints of small Ise publishers.
The first two characters in Shigeharu's signature are not part of his name but read ôju ("by request," possibly
indicating that this print was commissioned by a patron or fans of Rikan who wanted to see him depicted in an Ise production). The inscription at the bottom
reads Ise Naka no jizô no shibai ôatari ôatari ("A really big hit at the Ise Naka no Jizô Theater!").
References: IBKYS-II, no. 135; NKE, p. 264