Artist: Utagawa Toyokuni II (二代目歌川豊国)

Print: Iwai Hanshirō V (岩井半四郎) as the onnagata Oroku (おろく) in the snow

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Dates: circa 1825,created
Dimensions: 9.875 in,15.25 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print

Signed: Toyokuni ga (豊国画)
Publisher: Mikawaya Seiemon
(Marks 328 -seal 16-011)
Censor's seal: kiwame

Related links: Hankyu Culture Foundation - 1852 Toyokuni III print of this scene; Hankyu Culture Foundation - Toyokuni III an accompanying print;

Physical description:

We are still trying to definitively identify this figure. We know that her name is Oroku, but aren't sure which play or which Oroku even this one might be. Perhaps she is the Oroku from the play Osome Hisamatsu Ukina no Yomiuri (於染久松色読販 — The Seven Roles of the Love Story of Osome and Hisamatsu). The Japan Broadcasting Corporation gives a summary of this play:

The love story of Osome, the daughter of a wealthy pawnshop, and Hisamatsu, an apprentice in her family's shop is famous in kabuki and the Bunraku puppet theater. "The Seven Roles of the Love Story of Osome and Hisamatsu" is a special version of the story written by Tsuruya Nanboku IV in 1813 where one onnagata female role specialist plays all the main roles. Six of the roles are from the classical story: Osome, Hisamatsu, a geisha named Koito, Osome's mother, Hisamatsu's sister Takegawa who is a lady-in-waiting in a samurai mansion and Omitsu, Hisamatsu's fiancée in the country. But the seventh role is typical of Nanboku's 19th century style and he created the akuba role of Dote no Oroku, a spirited woman who uses her wits and blackmail to help the protagonists.
Kabuki21 says this about an akuba (悪婆): "An evil middle-aged woman in sewamono drama, who indulges in extortion, blackmail or murder. She is usually a clever person, who can bluff, fight and swindle. She is also often possessed with a certain sense of loyal chivalry."


The two prints by Toyokuni III from 1852 linked above are from the play Chūkō Kanagaki Kōshaku (忠孝仮名書講釈) which is related to the Chūshingura.