Artist: Utagawa Yoshimune (歌川芳宗)

Print: Nichirai Shōnin [日来上人] at the
Battle of Kawanakajima [川中島合戦の日来上人] -
middle panel of a triptych

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Dates: 1847 - 1852,created
Dimensions: 9.75 in,13.5 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock print

Signed: Isshōsai Yoshimune ga
Publisher: Kazusaya Iwakichi
(Marks 233 - seal 21-052)
Censor seals: Kinugasa and Yoshimura

Related links: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston - the full triptych;

Physical description:

The romance of Kawanakajima

The story of the five battles of Kawanakajima, fought between the same armies in the same place over a period of 11 years, is one of the most cherished tales in Japanese military history, commemorated for centuries through epic literature, vivid woodblock prints and exciting movies.

The quote above comes from: Kawanakajima 1553-64: Samurai Power Struggle by Stephen Turnbull, p. 7.

This curious case of this simple print.

The title of this print is taken directly from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston web site. However, it may make one thing perfectly clear: when a trusted source makes a mistake - or appears to - without justification, that mistake will be repeated over and over again without foundation. If only they had provided a translation of the cartouche found in the upper part of the left-hand panel not shown here, that might have provided a clue. Even cutting and pasting their title, 川中島合戦の日来上人, into Google's Japanese language search engine only provides four results: one leads to the museum in Boston's page devoted to this triptych and three to our own Lyon Collection web site. That is not what we call proof.

It should be noted that the right-hand panel of this triptych - not shown here - shows a priest, most likely of the Nichiren sect - sitting along on a part of the river bank which projects into the water. Amid all the sturm und drang he sits calmy reading from one of his sutra. This act might very possibly have occurred during one of the five battles of Kawanakajima - it doesn't matter if it is fanciful or true - it is believable. Nichiren lived in the 13th century, so the priest can be him, because the battles took place in the 16th century.