Play a Board Game of the Road to Iga Pass, Act IX

Utagawa Kuniteru I (active ca. 1820-1860)

Japanese Color Woodblock Print

Play a Board Game of the Road to Iga Pass, Act IX

"Igagoe dōchū sugoroku, kyū" 

by Utagawa Kunteru, 1849/1851

Utagawa Kuniteru I (active ca. 1820-1860)

IHL Cat. #2010

About This Print

Depicting act nine of Igagoe dōchū sugoroku, one of the three great revenge plays in Japanese literature.1 In this scene we see Otani おたに, ill and clutching her baby, outside of her husband's (Karake Masaemon 唐木政右衛門 - the real life Araki Mataemon) house in Okazaki. Seated beside Masaemon is the wife of samurai Sawai Matagorō, who is the object of revenge. [Note: I am not sure of the identification of the woman sitting near Masaemon.]

This play was originally written for the bunraku theater in 1783 by Chikamatsu Hanji (1725-1783) and is often seen titled as Numazu after its often performed Act VI.2 The sugoroku in the title references a board game that incorporated the stations along the Tokaido Highway running from Edo to Kyoto.

The orange rectangular cartouche in the upper left reads: 岡崎の浪宅に政右衛門不計妻お谷に廻逢図

The Story

Source: New Kabuki Encyclopedia: A Revised Adaptation of Kabuki Jiten, Samuel Leiter, Greenwood Press, 1997, p. 211-212
Igagoe deals with the vengeance wrought by Araki Mataemon. The original play’s most distinctive feature was that each of its ten acts represented another stage on the journey along the Tokaido Highway from Edo to Kyoto. Only Act VI’s “Numazu” scene and the VIII’s “Okazaki” scene are still regularly performed.

The actual vendetta was carried out in 1634 at Iga Ueno, located between Nagoya and Nara, on Kawai Matagorō by Watanabe Kazuma and his master swordsman brother-in-law, Araki Mataemon. The deed occurred four years after Kazuma’s father, Watanabe Yukie of the house of Lord Tadao Ikeda of Okayama, was killed by Matagorō, a retainer of lord of Koremori. The dramatists, as usual, have taken liberties with names, places, and events. The play is a complexly woven tragedy in which numerous loyalties and obligations crisscross with one another among a host of characters.

1 The other two being, of course, Kanadehon Chūshingura and Soga no Taimen.
2 Not to be confused with Chikamatsu Monzaemon (1652-1725). Hanji took the name Chikamatsu as a tribute to the great playwright. 

Print Details

 IHL Catalog #2010
 Title 伊賀越道中双六 九 Igagoe dōchū sugoroku, kyū
 Play A Board Game of the Road to Iga Pass, Act IX
 [variously seen translated into English as "Through Iga Pass with the Tokaido Board Game", "The Vendetta at Iga",  and "Travel Game while Crossing Iga."
 Series 伊賀越道中双六 Igagoe dōchū sugoroku 
 Play A Board Game of the Road to Iga Pass
 Utagawa Kuniteru I (active ca. 1820-1860)
Ichiyūsai Kuniteru ga
 Seal not sealed
 Publication Date
Muramatsu 村松 and Fuku 福 double nanushi censor seals used between 1849 and 1851 according to Marks.
Yamamotoya Heikichi (Eikyūdō shinshi)
山本屋平吉  栄久堂 
[Marks ref. pub. 595; similar to seal 25-078]
 Impression good
 Condition fair - slightly rubbed and soiled; minor color fading; red grid on backing paper shows through to front
 Genre ukiyo-e; kabuki-ga 歌舞伎が
 Format oban
 H x W Paper 9 1/2 x 14 1/4 in. (24.1 x 36.2 cm)
 H x W Image 9 x 13 3/4 in. (22.9 x 34.9 cm)
 Collections This Print The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum of Waseda University 012-1311; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 2009.5007.30

 Reference Literature