Artist: Utagawa Hirosada (歌川広貞)

Print: Ōkawa Hashizō I as Shirai Gonpachi from the suicide scene in the play Ume tabiji gojusan eki or '53 Stages of the Plum Tree Journey' 梅旅路五十三驛

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Dates: 1848,created
Dimensions: 10.0 in,14.75 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print

Signed: Hirosada

Related links: British Museum; Rijksmuseum; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts; Hankyu Culture Foundation - Toyokuni III study for the same scene; Hankyu Culture Foundation - 1869 Yoshitaki print of the same scene;

Physical description:

The British Museum curatorial files note:

Ōkawa Hashizō (Onoe Kikugoro III) as Shirai Gonpachi, standing in ferry boat against black sky with wounds to his waist, sword through his neck, with bloodstains on his arm and leg; the suicide scene from the play 'Ume tabiji gojusan eki' (53 Stages of the Plum-tree Journey), 4/1848.


Ōkawa Hashizō I (aka Onoe Kikugorō III) appeared in Kamigata for only four brief seasons starting in 1820 and climaxing with this, his final appearance in 1848 as the villainous robber, Shirai Gompachi. Gompachi was escaping the Edo police in a row boat, when he was ambushed on the Sumida River. Realizing that 'the game was up', he committed a gruesomely violent suicide.

Onoe Kikugoro appeared in this gory role in a dance interlude Sangokuichi tsui no kuromono at the Kado za, Osaka, in the fifth month of 1848, the year before his own death.

The poem above printed in silver, translated by Eiko Kondo, in Kennedy Catalogue, 1984, #21:

The blossoms of the wild cherry are their own poets when they fall.
(A reference to Gompachi's suicide.)

See Roger Keyes' The Male Journey in Japanese Prints, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1989, catalog no. 225 for another impression.

The publisher is Kinkado.

Other impressions of this rare oban size print may be found in the Rijksmuseum Catalogue, The Age of Yoshitoshi, #213. Kennedy Cat,5. #21. Hirosada Catalogue, Long Beach, USA, #9 (belonging to the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco.)