Kachidoki mibae Genji (Victory song of the Genji: 勝鬨莩源氏) was based on a real-life incident from 1804 involving the lord of Akashi and a hunter named Gennai. A related play of the period was Katakiuchi ura no asagiri (Revenge along the bay in morning fog: 敵討浦朝霧). Kumasaka Chôhan was a notorious bandit whose exploits have been popularized for centuries in the folk tales and legends of Japan. Most famous were his attacks against travelers in the Province of Mino, where there was a pine tree approximately 20 meters high from which it was possible to spy upon the unsuspecting and rob them of their luggage and valuables. One day Kumasaka's outlaw band attacked Ushiwakamaru — a lad of sixteen who had run away from the temple where he was being educated and was traveling with a merchant's retinue. Ushiwakamaru also happened to be the childhood name of the legendary Genji general Minamoto no Yoshitsune (1159-89). He soundly defeated the thugs who were intent on robbing him, displaying astonishing swordsmanship while slaying thirteen. When Chôhan attempted to dispatch the youth himself, he failed, suffering many wounds as Ushiwakamaru danced and leapt about, easily parrying the blows from his adversary. This legend became the subject of a Nô drama entitled Kumasaka, as well as a popular subject in songs, dances, and kabuki dramas.
Chôhan holds in his right hand a naginata (halberd: 長刀), its imposing length spanning more than the height of the image, extending into the top border. (The white specks on the naginata in our photograph are tiny pieces of mother of pearl, a very uncommon deluxe enhancement.) In his left hand he holds a chôchin (portable lantern: 提灯), its light beam adding another dramatic element to Yoshitaki's design. The kanji in the smaller (crest-style or mon) cartouche reads Gi (righteousness: 義), an attribute closely associated with the samurai ethic.
We have not been able to locate another impression of this excellent deluxe design (note the well-preserved application of metallic pigment on Chôhan's chest armor).