Kawarasaki Kunitarō as Ōkaru from the series Kanadehon Chūshingura

Ichimura Uzaemon from the series Kabuki 36 Poems

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Kawarasaki Kunitarō as Ōkaru

from the series Kanadehon Chūshingura

by Toyohara Kunichika, 1866

Parody of 36 Selected Beauties and Poems - Ōtani Tomoemon V

IHL Cat. #1287

About This Print

One of a series of prints highlighting individual actors in their roles in the July 1866 performance of the play Kanadehon Chūshingura (variously translated as The Treasury of Loyal Retainers or Revenge of the 47 Ronin or The Revenge of the 47 Loyal Samurai) at the Ichimura-za.  This print features the actor Kawarazaki Kunitarō I ( 河原崎国太郎 1849-1867) in the role of Okaru おかる in Act VI of the play.

To read more about the representations of Chūshingura in woodblock prints see the article on this site Chūshingura (The Treasury of Loyal Retainers) in Woodblock Prints.

Summary of Act VI

Source: http://www.columbia.edu/~hds2/chushinguranew/kanadehon/act_6.html

Okaru [wife to Kanpei, now living with her parents in Yamazaki] is living within a humble cottage in Yamazaki with her husband Kanpei and her aged parents. There, though her life is plagued by poverty, she is happy so long as she is with the man she loves. In fact, her love for Kanpei is so great that she has even resigned herself to her future as a Gion courtesan, knowing that the money raised from her bond of service will be enough to help Kanpei become a samurai once again. As the act opens, both mother and daughter express concern about the late arrival of Yoichibei. 

Ichimonjiya arrives at the house to deliver Okaru to the tea house, where she will begin her 5 year term of service, and explains that Yoichibei had agreed to the deal the previous night and had set out for home with half of the bond, which totaled 100 ry? in gold. Both Okaru and her mother are now beside themselves with worry for Yoichibei, and although Ichimonjiya express perfunctory concern for his whereabouts, he insists on rapidly concluding the proceedings and forces Okaru into the palanquin he arrived in.

At precisely that moment, Kanpei strides boldy in and demands to know why his wife is being taken away. He learns, for the first time, of Yoichibei's plan to sell his own daughter so that he can get back on his feet again. Kanpei is deeply moved by this kind gesture and for a while refuses to allow Ichimonjiya to leave without Okaru first seeing her father one last time; however, he soon mistakenly concludes that the man he had killed was none other than his father-in-law and, rather than let his wife learn of this terrible mistake, sends her off without further ado.

The Actor Pictured

For information on Kawarasaki Kunitarō I see The Kabuki Actor.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1287
 Title (Description) Kawarasaki Kunitarō as Ōkaru  河原崎国太郎 おかる
 Series Kanadehon Chūshingura 仮名手本忠臣蔵
 Artist Toyohara Kunichika (1835–1900)
国周筆 Kunichika hitsu
 Seal 年玉印 toshidama seal below signature
 Publication Date
July 1866 (aratame date seal)
辻亀板 [Tsujikame han]
seal of the publisher Tsujiokaya Kamekichi 辻岡屋亀吉 [Marks: seal 25-422; pub. ref. 549]
 Carver 彫栄 Hori Ei

 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - full size; not backed; stain upper left hand margin and minor soiling, primarily in margins
 Genre ukiyo-e; nigao-e; yakusha-e
 Format vertical oban
 H x W Paper 
 14 5/8 x 9 7/8 in. (37.1 x 25.1 cm)
 H x W Image 13 3/8 x 9 1/8 in. (34 x 23.2 cm)
 Collections This Print
 The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University 100-0542; Ritsumeikan University AcNo. arcUP3532; Hagi Uragami Museum U01873
last revision: