Actors playing the game of ken,

Part I

 

Prints depicting the game of ken () are called ken no e (拳の絵).á Ken was often played as a drinking game and was incorporated into several kabuki plays as a dance.á The prints with small human figures illustrate the dance steps.á After the imposition of a ban on actor prints in 1842, Kuniyoshi produced numerous humorous designs with thinly disguised actorsĺ portraits as animals or other objects playing ken.á All the prints reproduces in this section are either single ˘ban (about 14 by 10 inches or 36 by 25 centimeters) or composed of more than one ˘ban sheet placed side-by-side.á Additional information about these prints may be found in the article: Linhart, Sepp, Kuniyoshiĺs Ken Caricatures between 1847 and 1853, Andon, Vol. 83, 2008, pp. 5-29.á

 

Title: Ken Exercises (Ken no keiko)

Description: Actors Nakamura Utaemon IV, Ichikawa Kuz˘ II, and Matsumoto K˘shir˘ VI playing kená

Date: 1847

Publisher: Ta (phonetic pronunciation of ), possibly fake

Linhart: 2/10124ááá

 

NOTE: This print is unsigned

 

 

Title: Totetsuru ken hitori keiko

Description: Three actors in female roles (onnagata) are playing the game ofá kitsune-ken

Date: 5th month of 1847 (censors Mera and Murata)

Publisher: J˘shű-ya Kinz˘

Linhart: 6/10009ááá

 

Title: Ataru ken kurabe

Description: Three actors as fishermen

Date: 3rd month of 1847

Publisher: Nomura-ya Tokubei

Linhart: 8/10063

 

Title: D˘ke Daruma ken

Description: Actors Nakamura Utaemon IV (right), Ichikawa Kuz˘ II (center) and

Matsumoto K˘shir˘ VI (left) playing the game of ken.á

Date: 3rd month of 1847

Publisher: Hori Masa

Linhart: 11/10073

 

NOTE: This print is from the series ôDarumaĺs Buffooneryö (D˘ke Daruma asobi) which is listed as number 191 in Kuniyoshi by Basil William Robinson (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1961).á The background is printed in yellow, as in other prints from this series.á

 

 

I am grateful to Marc DeVriese for this variant with bokashi (gradual shading of color) on only one figure.

 

Title: Iroma sarutoshi haru no kotobuki ocha no ko ken

Description: Actors Nakamura Utaemon IV depicted as pine, Ichikawa Kuz˘ II as a turtle, and Seki Sanjűr˘ III as a crane

Date: 1st month of 1848

Publisher: Ebisu-ya Sh˘shichi

Linhart: 28/10020

 

Title: H˘rai-ken

Description: Actors Nakamura Utaemon IV, Ichikawa Kuz˘ II, and Seki Sanjűr˘ III playing ken

Date: 2nd month of 1848

Publisher: Yamamoto-ya Heikichi

Linhart: 30/10144

 

Title: Three Countriesĺ Ken (Sangoku ken, 三国券)

Description: Actors Nakamura Utaemon IV, Ichimura Uzaemon XII and Seki Sanjűr˘ III in the roles of Morokoshi K˘shi, Tenjiku Shaka and Nippon Daijingű playing ken

Date: 12th month of 1848

Publisher: Fujioka-ya Keijir˘

Linhart: 31/10041

 

Title: Three Countriesĺ Ken (Sangoku ken (三国拳)

Description: Actors Nakamura Utaemon IV as Nippon Daijingű (the goddess Amaterasu from Japan), Ichimura Uzaemon XIIá as Morokoshi K˘shi (Confucius from China), and Seki Sanjűr˘ III as Tenjiku Shaka (Shakayamuni, the historical Buddha from India) playing ken

Date: 1st month of 1849

Publisher: ďmi-ya Heihachi

Linhart: 32/10035

 

Another state of the above print with altered text

 

Title: Three Countriesĺ Ken (Sangoku ken, 三国券)

Description: Actors Nakamura Utaemon IV as Nippon Daijingű (the goddess Amaterasu from Japan), Ichimura Uzaemon XIIá as Morokoshi K˘shi (Confucius from China), and Seki Sanjűr˘ III as Tenjiku Shaka (Shakayamuni, the historical Buddha from India) playing ken

Date: 1849

Publisher:

Linhart: Not listed

 

I am grateful to Marc DeVriese for this image.

 

Title: Three Countriesĺ Ken (Sangoku ken)

Description: Actors Nakamura Utaemon IV, Ichimura Uzaemon XII and Seki Sanjűr˘ III playing ken

Date: 1st month of 1849

Publisher: ďta-ya Takichi

Linhart: 37/10036

 

I am grateful to Marc DeVriese for this image.

 

Title: Three Countriesĺ Ken (Sangoku ken)

Description: Actors Nakamura Utaemon IV, Ichimura Uzaemon XII and Seki Sanjűr˘ III playing ken

Date: 1st month of 1849

Publisher: ďta-ya Takichi

Linhart: 38/10037

 

Title: Three Countriesĺ Ken (Sangoku ken)

Description: Actors Nakamura Utaemon IV (standing left), Ichimura Uzaemon XII (sitting) and Seki Sanjűr˘ III (right) playing ken

Date: 1st month of 1849

Publisher: Koga-ya Katsugor˘

Linhart: 39/10039

 

Title: Three Countriesĺ Ken (Sangoku ken)

Description: Actors Nakamura Utaemon IV, Ichimura Uzaemon XII and Seki Sanjűr˘ III playing ken

Date: 1st month of 1849

Publisher: No seal

Linhart: 40/10038

 

Another state of the above design without any green

 

Title: Shogei shiansho nite mari no keiko o suru

Description: Three actors playing ken

Date: 1st month of 1849

Publisher: Okaei

Linhart: 41/10040

Title: Y˘ji gakure no zu

Play: Shinki ikken tori no hatsugoe (新規一拳酉魁声)

Description: Band˘ Shuka I as 大磯中の町お秀, Nakamura Utaemon IV as 浅草の郷者三国軒, and Ichimura Uzaemon XII as 鳶頭嘉吉 playing ken

Date: 1st month of 1849

Theater: Ichimura

Publisher: Izutsu-ya Sh˘kichi

Linhart: /10043

 

Title: Three Countriesĺ Ken (Sangoku ken)

Description: Actors Nakamura Utaemon IV, Ichimura Uzaemon XII and Seki Sanjűr˘ III playing ken

Date: 2nd month of 1849

Publisher: Takano-ya Tomoemon

Linhart: 42/10044

 

NOTE: This print is unsigned

 

Title: How to practice the sangoku-ken (Sangoku ken o sono mama ni hitori keiko)

Description: Actor Nakamura Utaemon IV playing the shamisen

Date: 1st month of 1849

Publisher:

Linhart: 44/10049

ôLinhartö refers to listing in the article ĹKuniyoshiĺs Ken Caricatures between 1847 and 1853ĺ, by Sepp Linhart in Andon, Vol. 83, 2008, pp. 5-29

 

CLICK HERE TO GO TO PART II