Sawamura Tanosuke II (沢村田之助) as Yorikane (頼兼) about to slay his mistress Takao (高尾) played by Onoe Matsusuke II (尾上松助)

Utagawa Toyokuni I (初代歌川豊国) (artist 1769 – 02/24/1825)

Sawamura Tanosuke II (沢村田之助) as Yorikane (頼兼) about to slay his mistress Takao (高尾) played by Onoe Matsusuke II (尾上松助)


9.375 in x 29 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese woodblock print

Signed: Toyokuni ga (豊国画)
Publisher: Suzuki Ihei (Marks 502 - seal 04-028)
Censor's seal: Yamatō
Waseda University - top panel
Waseda University - bottom panel
Tokyo Metropolitan Library

"Instead of leading his clan, Ashikaga Yorikane, daimyō of Ōshu, was leading a life of pleasure. He had become so obsessed with the beautiful courtesan Takao that he completely disregarded his responsibilities. He also grossly neglected his betrothed, Utakata. His faithful and loyal retainer Kinugawa Tanizō had observed his behaviour for a while with great disapproval and wanted to lead his lord away from this shameful life. Yorikane's refusal to part from Takao only complicated matters, to Tanizō eventually decided that there was only one way to bring Yorikane to his senses; removing Takao out of his life by killing her. One day, during a boat trip on the Sumida River, Takao was mysteriously murdered. Her death caused quite a stir in the capital as the courtesan was well known. Tamizō cleverly persuaded Yorikane to spend some time outside Edo until the excitement died down."

Quoted from: Heroes of the Kabuki Stage by Arendie and Henk Herwig.


The Takao/Yorikane plays were actually loosely based on true historical events "...related to the succession disputes within the Date clan in Sendai in the 1660s. The legitimacy of the daimyo Date Tsunamune and his heirs was challenged when it was disclosed that Tsunamune was enamored of the famous courtesan Takao II of the Great Miura bordello (the legend that inspired the kabuki play was a colorful mix of fact and fiction)."

Quoted from: "Wild Boars and Dirty Rats: Kyōka Surimono Celebrating Ichikawa Danjūrō VII as Arajishi Otokonosuke" by John T. Carpenter, Impressions, no. 28, 2006-2007, p. 47.


Illustrated in color in Ukiyo-e Masterpieces in the Collection of Chiba City Museum of Art (千葉市 美術館 所蔵 浮世絵 作品選 - Chiba-shi Bijutsukan shozō ukiyoe sakuhinsen), 2001, p. 61, #130.


Osaka Prints gave this summary of the play Meiboku Sendai Hagi (伽藍先代萩):

"Meiboku sendai hagi (Sandalwood and bush clover of Sendai: 伽羅先代萩) dramatized the intrigues over succession within the Date clan of Sendai during the third quarter of the seventeenth century. It was performed in an alternate sekai ("world" or theatrical setting: 世界), set back in time during the Onin civil war under the Ashikaga shogunate of the fifteenth century (Ashikaga thus becomes a theatrical substitute for the Date clan name). It is a classic play, so popular that during the Edo period it had at least one performance nearly every year since its premiere in 1777. The fictionalized central story involved Lord Ashikaga Yorikane's forays into the pleasure quarter and his murder of the courtesan Takao (高尾). This episode is an amplification of an actual incident in which the twenty-one-year-old clan leader Date Tsunamune became the lover of the Yoshiwara courtesan Takao, causing a scandal that led to his downfall. Another story line involves Nikki Danjô (Yorikane's evil nephew), the orchestrator of a conspiracy to overthrow Yorikane. The intrigue failed, however, and Nikki was slain."

Sawamura Tanosuke II (二代目澤村田之助: 11/1801 to 1/28/1817) (actor)
Onoe Matsusuke II (二代目尾上松助: 11/1809 to 10/1814) (actor)
actor prints (yakusha-e - 役者絵) (genre)
Kakemono-e - 掛物絵 (genre)
Suzuki Ihei (鈴木伊兵衛) (publisher)
Ashikaga Yorikane (足利頼兼) (role)
Meiboku Sendai Hagi (伽藍先代萩) (author)