Artist: Utagawa Toyokuni I (初代歌川豊国)

Print: Sawamura Tanosuke II (沢村田之助) as Yorikane (頼兼) about to slay his mistress Takao (高尾) played by Onoe Matsusuke II (尾上松助)

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Dates: 1813,created
Dimensions: 9.375 in,29.0 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print

Signed: Toyokuni ga (豊国画)
Publisher: Suzuki Ihei (Marks 502 - seal 04-028)
Censor's seal: Yamatō

Related links: Waseda University - top panel; Waseda University - bottom panel; Tokyo Metropolitan Library;

Physical description:

"Instead of leading his clan, Ashikaga Yorikane, daimyō of Ōshu, was leading a life of pleasure. He had become so obsessed with the beautiful courtesan Takao that he completely disregarded his responsibilities. He also grossly neglected his betrothed, Utakata. His faithful and loyal retainer Kinugawa Tanizō had observed his behaviour for a while with great disapproval and wanted to lead his lord away from this shameful life. Yorikane's refusal to part from Takao only complicated matters, to Tanizō eventually decided that there was only one way to bring Yorikane to his senses; removing Takao out of his life by killing her. One day, during a boat trip on the Sumida River, Takao was mysteriously murdered. Her death caused quite a stir in the capital as the courtesan was well known. Tamizō cleverly persuaded Yorikane to spend some time outside Edo until the excitement died down."

Quoted from: Heroes of the Kabuki Stage by Arendie and Henk Herwig.


The Takao/Yorikane plays were actually loosely based on true historical events "...related to the succession disputes within the Date clan in Sendai in the 1660s. The legitimacy of the daimyo Date Tsunamune and his heirs was challenged when it was disclosed that Tsunamune was enamored of the famous courtesan Takao II of the Great Miura bordello (the legend that inspired the kabuki play was a colorful mix of fact and fiction)."

Quoted from: "Wild Boars and Dirty Rats: Kyōka Surimono Celebrating Ichikawa Danjūrō VII as Arajishi Otokonosuke" by John T. Carpenter, Impressions, no. 28, 2006-2007, p. 47.


Illustrated in color in Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in the Collection of Chiba City Museum of Art (千葉市 美術館 所蔵 浮世絵 作品選 - Chiba-shi Bijutsukan shozō ukiyoe sakuhinsen), 2001, p. 61, #130.