Artist: Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (月岡芳年)

Print: Rochishin and the Guardian God [Statue] - Rochishin ransui Godaisen Kongōjin o uchikowasu no zu (魯智深爛酔打壊五壹山金剛神之図)

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Dates: 1887,created
Dimensions: 9.6 in,28.5 in,Overall dimensions
Medium: Japanese color woodblock print

Signature: Yoshitoshi (芳年)
Artist's seal: Yoshitoshi no in
Carver: Negishi Chokuzan

Related links: Waseda University (bottom sheet); Waseda University (top sheet); Tokyo National Museum; Hagi Uragami Museum of Art - top panel; Hagi Uragami Museum of Art - bottom panel; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Rijksmuseum; National Diet Library; Art Institute of Chicago; Ishikawa Prefectural Museum of Art;

Physical description:

Among my all-time favorite characters, Lu Ta ( Lu Chi Shen - Japanese: Rochishin), is depicted here as he demolishes the gate of the temple of the Five-Crested Mountain (Godaizan) in the novel Outlaws of the Marsh (Suikoden). A Chinese captain, he provoked a butcher who had been harassing the young daughter of an acquaintance and, when the butcher attacked with his knife, Lu slapped him and the butcher died, a capital offense. In order to escape the death penalty, he agreed to became a priest at the prestigious temple. The abbot cut his hair and renamed him Lu Chi Shen, “Lu of Deep Wisdom.” Lu soon tired of his chaste lifestyle and, disregarding his priestly vows, he left the monastery, beat up a wine merchant, drank a huge bucket of wine on the spot and drank a second as he staggered back up the mountain to the monastery. Seeing his drunken state, the monks barred the gate and refused him entrance. In his rage, Lu destroys the wooden temple guardian, shatters the temple gate, fights his way through all the other monks and passs out in the mediation hall, fouling it horribly from both ends before he awakens badly hung over. The abbot is forced to dismiss him and sends him to a lesser temple where he continues to drink and fight colorfully throughout the novel, eventually joining the 108 outlaw heroes of the Suikoden in their struggles against government corruption. It is only at the very moment of his death (during yet another dramatic fight) that Lu achieves deep understanding in a flash and ascends to heaven.

First edition published by Matsui Eikichi in 1887 had blind printing, burnishing, and the use of a pigment in the guardian figure which oxidized in a lovely way. There were several intermediate printings before Hasegawa Tsunejirō reprinted the design (with a seal in the upper left margin "Reproduction not permitted" and lacking date. Also, the Hasegawa printings replaced the guardian pigment with one which didn't oxidize. Although the left margin has been trimmed in this example, the guardian figure is heavily oxidized, there's mica on the top sheet, a fantastic cheese-cloth pattern embossed by shomen-zuri (front side printing) on Lu's black robe, blind embossing in title cartouche, so I'm supposing this is a Matsui published first or early edition.


Illustrated in color in Yoshitoshi: Masterpieces from the Ed Fries Collection, p. 124.



1) In color in The World of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (Tsukioka Yoshitoshi no Sekai - 月岡芳年の世界) by Susugu Yoshida, pp. 28-29, #13. This includes a full-page, colored detail of Rochishin.

2) In black and white in a one-sixth-page reproduction in Yoshitoshi: The Splendid Decadant by Shinichi Segi, p. 72.


There are other copies of this composition in the Worcester Art Museum and in the Fitzwilliam.