Katakiuchi ukiki no kameyama (Grief for a gentle flower and revenge at Kameyama: 敵討優曇華亀山) falls into a genre of kabuki and puppet plays called, broadly, adauchi mono (revenge plays: 仇打ち物 or katakiuchi mono 敵討物). More specifically, the play is one of the Kameyama no katakiuchi mono (Kameyama revenge plays: 亀山敵討物) based on an actual event involving the Ishii brothers in the Date clan's castle at Kameyama in 1701. The tale presents Ishikawa Hyôsuke's vendetta against Akabori Mizuemon, a villain who tricked Hyôsuke’s father into believing that his wife had been unfaithful, which ends in his murdering her. Hyôsuke, his brother-in-law Genzô, and Genzô’s wife (Hyôsuke’s sister Okano) exact revenge against Mizuemon at Kameyama Castle. The story also became intertwined with many variations on the exceedingly popular revenge tale of the Soga brothers and was grouped with plays called Genroku Soga (Soga of the Genroku period: 元禄曾我).
This is a relatively early Yoshitaki design (his first known designs appeared around 1854) and is unusual in its division of the composition into four sections. Half-lengths of the actors appear diagonally, one above the other. They are not named, due to the lingering effects of the Tenpô Reforms (Tenpô kaikaku: 天保改革), which effectively suppressed actor print production for five years, 1842-47, and made publishers so cautious that they omitted the names of actors on prints for roughly a decade thereafter. The panel at the lower right is inscribed with the role names. The section at the top left inlcudes the artist's signature and an inscription reading mitate hana awase (Analog of a comparison of flowers: 見立花合) and yanagi (willow: 柳). The illustration depicts a frog below a hanging willow and may represent a scene from the play Katakiuchi ukiki no kameyama. More likely, we might speculate that the scene alludes to the legend of the great calligrapher Ono no Tôfû [Michikaze] (894-966: 小野の道風). The historical Tôfû was a government official, poet, and calligrapher who served three emperors. In Japanese legend and art, Tôfû is particularly well known as the figure who takes inspiration from a frog attempting seven times to leap from a pond to an overhanging willow branch until finally reaching his perch on its eighth attempt. Likewise, Tôfû had tried seven times to win a higher post in the imperial court, and so he took the frog's perseverence as a sign that he, too, should try yet another time, for which he was rewarded. Perhaps the connection to Yoshitaki's print involves repeated attempts to seek revenge in Katakiuchi ukiki no kameyama.
References: IBKYS-5, no. 89