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Ichikawa Danjûrô VII as Mongaku (bottom) and Ichikawa Danjûrô V as Fudô Myô-ô (top


Kunisada, Utagawa; designer; Japanese artist, 1786-1865






circa 1832


Japanese; Ukiyo-e


19th century


Surimono. Colour prints from woodblocks, with metallic pigment and blind embossing (karazuri). Ôtanzaku-ban. Signed: Ôkô Kunisada ga. Poet: Umenoya. c.1832.




given; 1937; Barron, E. Evelyn


Spring kyôka surimono showing the scene of Mongaku Shônin (1120-99) reciting prayers under the icy waterfall of Nachi in penance for accidentally killing his lover. He witnesses a manifestation of the Buddhist deity Fudô Myô-ô (the guardian of waterfalls) who appears at the top with his two attendants (dôji) Kongara and Seitaka. A number of plays were derived from this story, based on the Heike monogatari (Tales of the Heike) and Gempei seisuiki (Account of the Genpei wars), but this is evidently an ‘imaginary grouping’, rather than a record of an actual production, as Kunisada depicts Danjûrô VII’s deceased grandfather, Danjûrô V, in the role of Fudô. The scene had a special significance for the Danjûrô lineage of actors ever since their founder, Danjûrô I (1660-1704), prayed successfully to the image of Fudô at the Shinshôji temple in Narita, and thereafter used Naritaya as his yagô (‘house name’), the nickname shouted out by fans to encourage him during performance. Before assuming the Danjûrô stage-name, actors performed the same religious purification (misogi) as Mongaku at the waterfall at Shinshôji, where it was believed that the spirit of Fudô came to inhabit them. A votive plaque painted by Kunisada at the temple also records this scene. The poem by Umenoya plays irreverently by associating Fûdo’s coiled rope into the rope used to wrap wine casks as temple or shrine offerings, and by transforming the penitential waterfall (taki) into a famous brand of wine, Takisui (literally, ‘water from a waterfall’), which was sold at the Yomo wine shop in Izumichô in the Kanda district of Edo


Gifts of Cultivated People: Edo Surimono. 1997-10-21 - 1997-11-24
Organiser: Chiba City Museum of Art, Chiba Prefecture, Japan
Venue: Chiba City Museum of Art, Chiba Prefecture


Object Number: P.507-1937
(Paintings, Drawings and Prints)
(record id: 182376; input: 2011-03-29; modified: 2017-03-29)


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