Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)

Print: Ichikawa Ebizō V (市川海老蔵) as Daifukuya Soroku (大黒屋惣六) carrying a tobaccobon - left panel of a diptych from the play Iwao no Hananami no Shiraishi (岩藤浪白石)

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Dates: 1842,created
Dimensions: 9.75 in,15.0 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: color woodblock print

Signed: Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga
Publisher: Sōshūya Yohei (Marks 485 - seal 21-082)
Censor's seal: kiwame

Related links: Waseda University - left panel; Waseda University - right panel; Waseda University - an 1853 Toyokuni III of Bandō Hikosaburō IV in the same role holding the same container; Waseda University - an 1885 Kunichika of Kataoka Gatō III in the same role holding the same container;

Physical description:

From the B. W. Robinson collection.


Daifukuya Soroku appears in the kabuki play Go Taiheiki Shiraishi Banashi written originally in 1780 for the puppet theater. In Act VI, 'At the Kaminari Gate' Kabuki21 tells us: "In front of a tea stall beside the famous Kaminari Gate of Asakusa Kannon, Shinobu asks a man whether he knows the name of a famous courtesan of Shin-Yoshiwara. As ill luck would have it, the man happens to be a moneylender named Kankurô. Kankurô becomes on the spot Shinobu's self-styled guardian and Edo guide. In fact, he quickly sells her for 50 ryô to Daikokuya Sôroku, the proprietor of a famous house assignation in Shin-Yoshiwara."

Act VII is the 'Ageya' or 'In the House of Assignation': "Shinobu's elder sister is now a famous keisei named Miyagino. She works at the Daikokuya, an ageya owned by Sôroku to whom she sold herself eight years ago. Two shinzô, Miyazato and Miyashiba, tell Miyagino that a new maid named Shinobu has just been engaged by Sôroku. The new maid is straight from the countryside and has said she has come to Edo to seek her elder sister. Miyagino is interested and sends the two to bring the girl to her.

When she arrives, Shinobu is very shy and awkward. As the two courtesans make fun of her, Miyagino sends them away and begins to question the girl closely. Shinobu's replies confirm Miyagino's suspicion and Miyagino reveals that the sought-after sister is herself, proving it by showing an identical omamori charm bag to the one in Shinobu's possession. Their joy at reunion, however, is cut short by the news which Shinobu brings. Their father, having opposed the malicious local magistrate Shiga Daishichi, was killed. Their sick mother shortly afterward died of grief. Miyagino, finding all her hopes of return to her family shattered by this news, pledges her support in seeking revenge and killing the akudaikan Shiga Daishichi.

By her side is a book containing the story of the Soga brothers and she tells her sister they must be as faithful to their mission as the famous pair. When the two sisters try to steal away from the ageya, Sôroku, their master, appears. He has overheard the whole story. Miyagino tries to attack him but Sôroku easily disarms her and then, taking up the book she had shown to Shinobu, he recites the part in which the two brothers seek help from their god-father. He tells the two girls that they have to train themselves in swordsmanship and advises Miyagino to find the young man she spoke of as her betrothed, now the rônin Kanai Tanigorô, and ask for his support to fulfill their revenge (adauchi). Miyagino thanks Sôroku for his kindness."