Hime kurabe futaba ezôshi (Picture-book comparison of twin blades and the princess: 姫競双葉絵草紙), written by Chikamatsu Tokuzô (近松徳三 1751-1810) and two others, was one of the Oguri Hangan mono or Oguri mono ("Oguri Hangan plays"). The plots were based on various legends about Oguri as well as Chikamatsu Monzaemon's (近松門左衛門) 1698 puppet play Tôryû Oguri Hangan (當世流小栗判官) and the military chronicle Kamakura daizôshi ("Great copybook of Kamakura": 鎌倉大絵双紙) concerning the master of the Hitachi Castle, Oguri Hangan no Sukeshige (小栗判官助重), and Terute-hime (照天姫). Oguri's father Oguri Mitsushige, a provincial daimyô, failed in his revolt against the ruling Ashikaga clan, whereupon father and son were forced into hiding.
Yokoyama Tarô holds a ko-tsuzumi (小鼓), a shoulder or hand drum played in the kabuki and Nô theaters. His obi (sash: 帯) is patterned with emblems associated with five particular otokodate gonin (five upstanding men: 男伊達五人) from, among other sources, the play Otokodate itsutsu karigane (Karigane's five brave and chivalrous men: 男作五雁金), namely, Kaminari Shôkurô's two crossed drum sticks; Karigane Bunshichi's stylized triple-geese hexagon; Anno Heibei's ideograph reading an ('tranquility'); Gokuin Sen'emon's crossed mallets over a character from his name, reading sen (thousand); and Hotei Ichiemon's fan and sack (the last-mentioned otokodate is actually on the blue robe, partly covered by the obi). Yokoyama's robe is populated with various figures from theater and folklore. What all these emblems and figures have to do with the plot of Hime kurabe is unclear to us.
Dressed in elegant robes, Tarô's wife Asaka kneels near her husband while holding a hand puppet of a samurai in full armor.
Prints by Shunsei are difficult to find and are rarely found with such good colors, as here.
References: KNZ, no. 374