Artist: Natori Shunsen (名取春仙)

Print: Kataoka Nizaemon XI [片岡仁左衛門] as Kakogawa Honzō [九段目本蔵] from Act 9 of the Chūshingura from the series Portraits of Male Actors in Various Roles [創作版画 春仙似顔集]

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Dates: created,1926
Dimensions: 10.5 in,15.75 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print

Signed: Kachijōsai Shunsen ga
Seal: Shun
Publisher's seal: Watanabe-kō (渡辺工)
Artist's seal in lower left margin: Natori

Related links: Harvard Art Museums; Waseda University; National Gallery of Australia;

Physical description:

"Shunsen's actor prints include three portraits of characters from The Treasury of the loyal retainers. The image of the highly respected actor Kataoka Nizaemon XI as Honzō is a particularly fine print, with mica-flecked background and superb embossing. It presents the elderly samurai, reviled for his conservative approach to honourable samurai conflicts. In profile as he prepares to die at the hands of his daughter's fiancé."

Quoted from: Stars of the Tokyo Stage, p. 82. (JSV)


Click on this print to enlarge it and then look closely at the black fabric at his right shoulder. You will notice that it is a black on black decoration of flying cranes among clouds. It is masterfully printed. Horizontally stripped blue lines surround the brown designs of tigers. The fact that these fierce and yet somewhat whimsical animals populate this design is appropriate attire for such a menacing figure as Honzō.

A shakuhachi protrudes into the image in the front left foreground. Behind Honzō is a partial view of a sedge hat he would have worn to disguise his identity. (JSV)


This print is from an edition of 150.

There is another copy of this print in the Toledo Museum of Art.

Kakogawa Honzō is a figure from the Kanadehon Chūshingura ('Copybook of the Treasury of Loyal Retainers': 仮名手本忠臣蔵). Honzō is described as 'wise and moderate', but he is the retainer of 'the impetuous Wakasanosuke'.



1. In color in Stars of the Tokyo Stage by Lucie Folan, et al., p. 79.

2. In a small black and white reproduction in Modern Japanese Prints by Dorothy Blair, #138.

3. In color reproduction in Fresh Impressions: Early Modern Japanese Prints, p. 184. This book says the signature reads: Bichōsai Shunsen. This differs from what other authors say.


There are other copies of this print in the Toledo Museum of Art, the Chazen Art Museum and the Pacific Art Museum.