Kaihi sandai banashi

Morikawa Chikashige (active 1869 - January 1882)

Japanese Color Woodblock Print 

Kaihi sandai banashi

by Morikawa Chikashige, 1873

Morikawa Chikashige (active 1869 - January 1882)

IHL Cat. #1273

About This Print

Sources: my good friend, art historian Lynn Katsumoto and as footnoted.
A comic performance authored by the famous rakugo1 storyteller of the time, Ryūtei Enshi 柳亭燕枝 (1838-1900)2, by the actors (from right to left) Sawamura Tosshō II, Kawarazaki Gonjūrō and Nakamura Shikan IV. Given the red banner displaying the characters 成田山 (Narita-san) held by one of the spectators, as seen on the far right of the right sheet, it is likely that this play is being staged at or near Narita-san temple (the head temple of the Chisan sect of Shingon Buddhism) in Fukagawa, where the deity, the Wrathful Bright King Fudō Myōō, is worshipped. The timing of this performance was likely coincident with one of the periodic public displays (unveilings) of sacred objects (kaichō) held by Narita-san and other temples to raise funds.

The right sheet of this print shows Sawamura Tosshō II in the role of the monk/spiritual leader Kōbō Daishi, founder of Shingon Buddhism, who is said to have carved an image of Fudō Myōō while in China in the early 800s which he used to pacify the waves in a great storm.

The center sheet shows Kawarazaki Gonjūrō, who will take the name of Ichikawa Danjūrō IX in 1884, as the deity Fudō Myōō surrounded by flames representing the burning of anger and passion to purify the mind.

The left sheet shows Daikoku, the god of good fortune, whose presence may relate to the fund raising aspect of the kaichō.

The three figures are matched with three low-city districts in early Tokyo, renowned for working-class entertainment and commerce: god of good fortune Daikoku is matched with Asakusa; the Fudō Myōō of the Narita-san temple complex is matched with Fukagawa; and the monk/spiritual leader Kōbō Daishi is matched with Ryōgoku.

Narita San Shinshō-ji 成田山 新勝寺 "New victory temple"

Narita-san is closely associated with Kabuki, in particular with the Ichikawa Danjūrō line of actors. As the story goes "Danjūrō the first had difficulty having a child so he prayed to the Narita Fudō-myōō god and soon after had Danjūrō the second. After that his Kabuki themes revolved around the spirituality of the Narita Fudō-myōō god. His play, 'Tsuwamonno-konngen-soga' became a hit. His successors, also named Danjūrō, were also deeply religious in the Fudō-myōō god and performed a play called 'Risho-ki' about how people can be blessed by the Fudō-myōō god. Thanks to the success of their plays, the Fudō-myōō god became well-known among the people of the Edo period."3 The first Danjūrō summoned the power of the deity for his aragoto performance style and the current Danjūrō, the 12th, continues to visit the temple.

The temple was established in 940 to commemorate the victory of the forces dispatched from the Heian capital to suppress a revolt by the powerful Kantō region samurai, Taira no Masakado.

"Today the temple, and the charming Sando traditional shopping street leading up to it, is still a popular destination for tourists and pilgrims alike.  This is especially true around “Oshogatsu”, the Japanese New Years, when about 3 million people will visit Naritasan over a 3-day period to make their “hatsumode” prayers."

1 As relates to the print's title Kaihi sandai banashi, please note the following comments by art historian, Lynn Katsumoto: In the context of rakugo, sandai banashi is an impromptu story based on three topics that the audience chooses. As to kaihi/kaichō: the word is written with the characters 開扉 kaihi but the kana alongside the characters spells kaichō. Kaihi is the “open door” rehearsal period for kabuki plays; kaichō is the brief display of a special religious icon at a temple. Double-entendre, pun - no doubt, if we were to read the dialogue, similar plays on words and preconceptions would tumble out in great shows of wit. 
2 The storyteller's name 
Ryūtei Enshi (柳亭燕枝述, "told by Ryūtei Enshi") appears on the right panel to the immediate right of Kōbō Daishi's head scarf.
3 Narita City website https://www.city.narita.chiba.jp/english/welcome/naritasan_itikawa.html
4 website of the Chiba Convention Bureau and International Center  http://www.ccb.or.jp/e/_sightseeing/1146

The Actors Pictured and Their Roles

For background on the actors see their respective entries in the article The Kabuki Actor on this site.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1273
 Title (Description) Kaihi sandai banashi with the actors Sawamura Tosshō II as Kōbō Daishi, Kawarazaki Gonjūrō as Fudō Myōō and Nakamura Shikan IV as Daikoku.
開扉三題はなし 沢村訥升 弘法大師 河原崎権十郎 不動明王 中村芝翫 大黒天
 Artist Morikawa Chikashige (active 1869 - January 1882)
 Signature ōju Chikashige hitsu w/Toshidama seal 応需周重筆(年玉印)
 Seal Toshidama seal below signature 年玉印
 Publication Date
date seal reading 酉四 [Rooster four]
April 1873
seal reading Hamatetsu han 濱.  Seal of the publisher Hamadaya Tetsugorō 浜田屋鉄五郎 [Marks: seal 25-581; pub. ref. 087]

 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition fair - trimmed to image; 3 separate panels; ink offsetting, particularly on the right panel; soiling
 Genre ukiyo-e; yakusha-e
 Format vertical oban triptych
 H x W Paper 
 13 15/16 x 9 5/16 in. (35.4 x 23.7 cm) each sheet
 Collections This Print
 Tokyo Metropolitan Library N190-12-5