Nakamura Utaemon III (中むら歌右ヱ門) as Lady Tamamo no Mae in the Dance of Nine Changes (<i>Kokono bake no uchi</i> - 九変化ノ内, <i>Tamamo no mae</i> - 玉藻ノ前) in the play <i>Yosete Arata ni Kokonobake</i>

Jukōdō Yoshikuni (寿好堂よし国) (artist )

Nakamura Utaemon III (中むら歌右ヱ門) as Lady Tamamo no Mae in the Dance of Nine Changes (Kokono bake no uchi - 九変化ノ内, Tamamo no mae - 玉藻ノ前) in the play Yosete Arata ni Kokonobake


15 in x 10.25 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese Woodblock print

Signed: Jukōdō Yoshikuni ga
Publisher seal: Honya Seishichi
(Marks 123 - seal closest to 25-527)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
National Museums of Scotland
University of the Arts, London
Hankyu Culture Foundation
Lyon Collection - another print from this series

Nakamura Utaemon III (1778-1838) as Tamamo no Mae in the play Yosete Aratama Kokonobake, performed at the Kado Theater in 1/1825. Utaemon opened 1825 with a two-part performance. The first part was a New Year's keisei play; the second, a grand finale consisting of a set of nine changes, which Yoshikuni depicted in a nine-print yellow-ground set. The story of the fox-witch, Tamamo no Mae, is central to a number of different tales and plays and makes an excellent and dramatic short dance piece. For an illustration see Schwaab, Osaka Prints, cat #74, page 106. A superb and sublimely elegant Osaka design.

No one knows for sure if the origin of the 9-tailed fox is Chinese or not. However, there are parallels to this myth in both Japan and China and elsewhere in the Far East and in India. For example, during the Chou dynasty a woman, named Hua Yang, was added to harem of the emperor. In time she rose to become his favorite. The emperor was so bewitched by her beauty and wiles that he willingly killed a thousand innocent people just for her amusement.


The entire set of 9 prints is illustrated in Ikeda Bunko, Kamigata yakusha-e shūsei (Collected Kamigata Actor Prints), vol. 1, Ikeda Bunko Library, Osaka 1997, no. 364.

Also illustrated in color in Osaka Prints by Dean J. Schwaab, p 106, #74.

There is one other print from this series in the Lyon Collection. See the link above.


The publisher Honya Seishichi was known to have printed non-serialized actor prints by Yoshikuni.


The poem on the left reads: 日あたりの藻くすも春の錦かな 芝翫


"... the story of Tamamo no Mae, the epitome of metamorphosis and deception, who bewitches Retired Emperor Toba [1103-56] but whose true identity as a fox is ultimately exposed through exorcism. The femme fatale's story is a variant of fox wife tales (kitsune nyōbō)..."

Quoted from a Janet Goff book review of The Fox's Craft in Japanese Religion and Folklore: Shapeshifters, Transformations, and Duplicities by Michael Bathgate, Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 62, No. 2 (Summer, 2007), p. 244.

The Tamamo no Mae story started in the Muromachi period (1392-1573) as an otogi zōshi (お伽草子), basically a fairy tale.
Nakamura Utaemon III (三代目中村歌右衛門) (actor)
actor prints (yakusha-e - 役者絵) (genre)
Kyōto-Osaka prints (kamigata-e - 上方絵) (genre)
Honya Seishichi (本屋清七) (publisher)
Yūrei-zu (幽霊図 - ghosts demons monsters and spirits) (genre)
Tamamo no Mae (玉藻ノ前) (role)