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Funa Benkei from the album Nō Sugata


 Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Funa Benkei 船弁慶 (Benkei in the Boat)

from the album Nō Sugata

by Matsuno Sōfū, 1931-1934

Nōga taikan, Semimaru
IHL Cat. #1594

About This Print and Nō Sugata

Source: based on documentation kindly provided by Claus-Peter Schultz.
From volume four of a twenty volume album titled Nō Sugata consisting of text, photographs, illustrations and color woodblock prints published by Unsōdō Publishing over the period 1931-1934.  The woodblock prints were created by Matsuno Sōfū (1899-1963), the photographs by Genzō Kitazumi (1898-1982), the album's text was written by Kanze Sakon (1895-1939), the 24th head (sōke) of the Kanze School and Nō actor, and the preface was written by Sasakawa Rinfu (active 1920s-1930s).

For another depiction of this play by the artist see Funa Benkei, No. 15 from the series Fifty Noh Figures in Color.

The Play - Funa Benkei

Source: A Guide to No, P.G. O'Neill, Hinoki Shoten, 1929, p. 35-36.

By Kojirō
Fifth Group
All schools


Act 1:
Ko-kata - Minamoto no Toshitsune
Waki - Benkei
Waki-tsure - three retainers
Kyōgen - a boatman
Shite - Shizuka Fozen

Act 2:
Nochi-shite - the ghost of Tomomori

Benkei explains that in an attempt to clear himself of the suspicion which Yoritomo has about his younger brother's intentions, Yoshitsune has left the capital and come down to Daimotsu Bay.  There Shizuka Gozen joins her lover Yoshitsune, but as Benkei insists that she must return to the capital, they have a farewell party at which Shizuka dances, and then she goes off alone.  Yoshitsune and his men then put out to sea in a boat, but suddenly black clouds form, the seas rise, and the ghost of Taira no Tomomori comes upon them. It tries to seize Yoshitsune and carry him down into the sea to suffer the same fate as Tomomori himself, but is eventually driven off by the priestly poser of Benkei.

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #1594
 Title Funa Benkei 船弁慶 (Benkei in the Boat)
 Series Nō Sugata 能寿賀多
 Matsuno Sōfū (1899-1963)
 Seal 奏風 Sōfū seal beneath signature (see above)
 Date 1931-1934
 Edition first and only
 Publisher Unsōdō Publishing
 Carver unknown
 Printer unknown
 Impression excellent
 Colors excellent
 Condition good - staining along top and left edges from mounting residue verso; light toning
 Genre nishiki-e; nōgaku zue 能樂圖繪 [Noh play picture] or 能絵 [Noh-e]
 Format oban
 H x W Paper 9 5/8 x 11 7/8 in. (24.4 x 30.2 cm)
 H x W Image 9 1/2 x 11 5/8 in. (24.1 x 29.5 cm)
 Collections This Print Honolulu Museum of Art 26370
 Reference Literature 
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