Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川国芳) (artist 01/01/1797 – 04/14/1861)
An actor dressed as a Buddhist priest standing before an archery target
10 in x 14.5 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese woodblock print
Signed: Ichiyūsai Kuniyoshi ga
Artist's seal: kiri
Publisher: Ōtaya Takichi (Marks #423 - seal 01-119)
Censors: Mera and Murata
(both seals printed in reverse)
Seal: shita-uri or 'discreet sale' (シタ売)
The Kuniyoshi Project placed this image among its list of shini-e or memorial prints, but only as a possible example. They say that it might be an actor in the role of Nichiren. While it meets some of the requirements of a typical shini-e, such as the blue robe of the priest, in other ways it does not. Most shini-e are not signed and do not show a publisher's seal. That is why we believe that it represents a different completely different genre.
A curatorial note from the Freer-Sackler Galleries, now the National Museum of Asian Art, notes that "...an arrow hitting a bull's-eye, [is] a symbol that was hung in the towers of kabuki theaters to indicate a "hit" play."