Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳)

Print: Akugenta Slaying Namba Jirō at Nunobiki Falls - 布引ノ滝悪源太討難波

Bookmark and Share
Dates: created,circa 1834
Dimensions: 10.25 in,15.5 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese woodblock prints

Signed: Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga
Publisher: Nishimuraya Yohachi
(Marks 391 - seal 16-083)
Censor's seal: kiwame

Related links: British Museum; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museum of Fine Arts - ca. 1825 Kuniyoshi triptych of this scene; Google maps - Nunobiki Falls;

Physical description:

Kuniyoshi and several of his pupils created images of the ghost of Akugenda Yoshihira slaying his slayer, Namba Jirō. In fact, Kuniyoshi illustrated this episode more than once.

Kuniyoshi's most successful follower, Yoshitoshi produced his own version as one of his 'Thirty-six Ghosts' series. John Stevenson wrote about this event.

"Minamoto no Yoshihira (1140-60) was only fifteen when he earned the nickname Kamakura Agenta, Wicked Genta of Kamakura, by murdering his uncle Yoshikata and other relatives.

In 1159, at the age of nineteen, Yoshiria left Kamakura to join his father in Kyoto, where they fought together against Taira no Shigemori. They were defeated and fled; his father was assassinated by a Taira agent soon after. Yoshihira went back to Kyoto to seek revenge, disguised as a peasant. He was recognized, captured, and taken before Shigemori's father, Taira no Kiyomori, for judgment. Kiyomori... was delighted at his good fortune and ordered Yoshihira's immediate execution at the hands of Namba no Jiro. Yoshihira was led away to Nunobiki Waterfall where Namba cut him down with a sword. Yoshiria's body sprang into the air, taking the form of the Thunder God beating his drums. A violent thunderstorm rocked the sky, and Namba was killed in an explosive flash of lightning."

Quoted from: Yoshitoshi's Thirty-Six Ghosts by John Stevenson, p. 56.


Here is another retelling of this event, but with a slightly different variation on the names, but the same protagonists.

“According to the Heiji monogatari, which records the Heike’s defeat of Minamoto no Yoshitomo during the Heiji Rebellion, the Minamoto warrior Akugenda Yoshihira, who was beheaded by the Taira retainer Nanba no Saburō Tsunefusa, later returned in the form of a lightning bolt and struck Tsunefusa dead in an act revenge.”


Nunobiki-no-taki 布引の滝

"In the bustle of this modern city, you wouldn't think that one of Japan's most impressive waterfalls is just behind the train station. Nunobiki Falls has four gushing cascades in the forests of Mt. Rokko. References to their beauty have appeared in Japanese literature since the 10th century. They are a 20-minute walk from Shin-Kobe Station. After the falls you can pick up the Shin-Kobe Ropeway, which stops just above the falls before continuing on to the Nunobiki Herb Park. The stopping point provides a beautiful view of the city, especially at night."

Quoted from: Fodor's Japan, p. 552.


Illustrated in black and white in Chimi moryō no sekai : Ukiyoe : Edo no gekiga--reikai, makai no shujinkō-tachi (浮世絵魑魅魍魎の世界: 江戶の劇画 : 霊界魔界の主人公たち) by 中右瑛 (Nakau Ei), Ribun Shuppan, Tokyo, 1987, p. 89. [The text is entirely in Japanese.]