Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)

Print: Ushiwakamaru (牛若丸) in the center accompanied by Kisanda (鬼三太) on the left with Jōruri on the right: Minamoto no Ushiwaka-maru Yahagi no choja ga moto tachiyori tamau zu (源牛若丸矢矧長者が許立寄給圖)

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Dates: 1842 - 1846,created
Dimensions: 29.63 in,14.5 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print

Signed on right panel: Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga
on middle and left panels: Chōōrō Kuniyoshi ga
Artist's seal: kiri
Publisher: Ibaya Kyūbei
(Marks 126 - seal 19-040)
Censor's seal: Watari

Related links: British Museum; National Diet Library;

Physical description:

The curatorial files at the British Museum describe this triptych: "Ushiwaka-maru (centre) (Minamoto no Yoshitsune) and his retainer Kisanda (left) being brought to visit Joruri-hime by one of her maids (right), Joruri is playing the koto in the house in the background."


Ushiwakamaru, the name used by the young Yoshitsune, is accompanied here by Kisanda. In Yoshitsune: A Fifteenth-century Japanese Chronicle by Helen Craig McCullough describes a time when Yoshitsune had caroused so hard one night that he was terribly hungover the next day. Feeling that his position was safe he had drunkenly dismissed his retainers and sent them home. However, he was awakened by an alarm that his enemies were marching toward him and soon to attack. Yoshitsune was in no condition to defend himself so he asked the women in the palace if there were any men nearby who he could depend on. There was only one, Kisanda, a lowly servant of incredible strength.

In need of a weapon Kisanda "...found an unlacquered bow with a thickly bound grip and a number of untreated bamboo arrows with swan feathers, standing fourteen fists above the head. He strung the bow triumphantly against a pillar and hastened to the main courtyard, twanging the string until it rang like a gong."

Later, "With no trouble whatever [Kisanda] fixed one of the fourteen-fist arrows to the four-man bow, pleased to find that the weapon suited him perfectly. He unbolted the gate, set it ajar, and dropped to one knee at the sight of enemy helmet studs gleaming temptingly in the bright starlight. One after another the arrows sped swiftly from his bow, felling five or six of Tosa's vanguard and killing two men on the spot. Tosa retreated cautiously.

"For shame, Tosa! Is that how you deputize for the Lord of Kamakura?" shouted Kisanda.

Tosa rode up behind the shelter of the gate. Who has been named Yoshitsune's commander for tonight? Identify yourself! Only a coward makes a sneak attack! I am Tosabō Shōshun, well known as a member of the Suzuki League and deputy of the Lord of Kamakura."

Kisanda remained silent, afraid of being scorned by the enemy because of his low rank."


Illustrated in a large color reproduction in Kuniyoshi: The Warrior Prints by B. W. Robinson, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 1982, pl. 45. T108.