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Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)

Print: Aigō Kozaemon Hisamitsu (合郷基匕エ門久盈), #43 from the series Heroes of the Great Peace (Taiheiki eiyūden - 太平記英勇傳)

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Dates: circa 1848 - 1849,created
Dimensions: 9.75 in,14.5 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print
Inscription: Signed: Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga
一勇斎国芳画
Artist's seal: kiri
Publisher: Yamamotoya Heikichi
(Marks 595 - seal 04-007)
Censor seals: Mera and Murata
Number 43: 四十三

Related links: British Museum; Tokyo Metropolitan Library; Waseda University; Lyon Collection - print of Fukushima Masanori who fought with Hisamitsu;

Physical description:

Aigō (or Haigō) Hisamatsu was a vassal of Oda Nobunaga. At some point after Nobunaga's death it appears that Hisamatsu rebelled against Hideyoshi. In a later battle Fukushima Masanori (1561-1624) challenged him to a combat. The two fought for a long time, but despite being a formidable swordsman Hisamitsu, was had been on the field for many hours, and at the end he was wounded by a couple of spears. He died on the battlefield at Shizugatake from these wounds.

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Numerous are stories of duels which represented the basic element of an engagement. Vivid descriptions of duels are found in the text on the print Aigō Gozaemon Hisamitsu.

Part of the text on this print translates as:

“In the spirit these two were like a dragon and a tiger. Time passed as they kept contending but because Aigō had been toiling for many hours on the battlefield since that morning his mastery of fencing gradually began to betray him.”

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Earlier we noted that this figure's name may actually be Haigō Ieyoshi (拝郷家嘉: 1549-83), but so far we are unable to find other information about this man.

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It should also be noted that at Waseda University they give this title as 太平記英勇伝 which is only different in the last kanji character.

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Illustrated in a full-page color reproduction in Heroes of the grand pacification: Kuniyoshi's Taiheiki eiyūden by Elena Varshavskaya, Hotei Publishing, 2005, p. 145.

Varshavskaya, on page 144, gives the translation of the text as:

[Aigō Kozaemon Hisamitsu], a vassal of the Ōta house... was a general serving under the banners of Chibata Tatsuie... In the hot battle of Shizugamine... when Takuma Morimasa was about to fulfil the order to withdraw his forces. [Aigō] together with Hara Hikojirō made a stand, fighting in the rear. They held back the innumerable legions of the Kamigata army... spreading like dashing waves. [Aigō Hisamitsu and Hara Hikojirō] struggled to support those pursued, which were many, and so it was necessary for [the two] to furnish resistance again. The Kamigata army, impetuous as it was, cold not advance because of one man only - Hisamitsu. On seeing this, Fukishima Ishimatsu Masanori grew fierce like a lion, flashed his spear and thrust it. Gozaemon looked back over his shoulder and with the words 'Easy on your manners, youth,' likewise thrust his spear. In their might these two were like a dragon and a tiger. Time passed as they contended but Aigō had been toiling for many hours on the battlefield since that morning and his mastery of fencing finally betrayed him. Ishimatsu, exasperated, struck at him with the spear and pierced the breastplate of his armour. Thus Hisamitsu, unparalleled in strength and valour finally perished in action from the serious, unbearable wound.