Biography of Yoshitsune

(Hodo Yoshitsune koi no Minamoto ichidai kagami, 程義経戀源 一代鏡)

1848-1853

 

Minamoto Yoshitsune (1159-1189) was a warrior whose tragic life has been fictionalized in many plays and novels. He was placed in a monastery after his fathers death in an unsuccessful revolt against the dictatorship of Taira Kiyomori, but Yoshitsune escaped and in 1180 joined a rebellion against the Taira Clan launched by his brother Minamoto Yoritomo. Yoshitsunes first spectacularly successful campaign was against his cousin Yoshinaka in 1184. That same year he led an assault on the Taira forces camped at Ichinotani, demoralizing and dispersing them. In 1185, he finally annihilated the Taira in the naval battle of Dannoura. Yoshitsune was forced into an unsuccessful rebellion against his brother Yoritomo in 1185. He eventually committed suicide in 1189 after killing his wife and daughter. In childhood, Yoshitsune was known as either Ushiwara (牛若) or Ushiwakamaru (牛若丸). The prints in this series are each about 14 by 10 inches (36 by 25 centimeters), a size known as ban.

 

 

Scene: The flight of Tokiwa-gozen (常盤の前) through the snow with her three children, Imawaka (今若), Otowaka (乙若) and Ushiwaka (牛若)

Publisher: Iba-ya Kybei

Robinson: S65.1

Date: 1847-1850 (censors Mera and Murata)

 

I am grateful to Robert Pryor for this keyblock print of the above image.

Scene: The tengu king (here called Kibune no keshin (貴舩の化身) meaning incarnation of Kibune) giving Ushiwakamaru (牛若丸) a fencing lesson

Title: The Secrets of Strategy: Chapter Two (San ryaku den dai ni, 三略傳 第二)

Publisher: Iba-ya Kybei

Robinson: S65.2

Date: 1847-1850 (censors Mera and Murata)

 

NOTE: Tengu are forest-dwelling creatures that are either human-like with wings and long noses or bird-like. Kibune is a mountain just north of Kyoto having an ancient shrine near its summit.

 

Scene: Ushiwakamaru (牛若丸) clinging to the branch of a tree kicks over Mitsuma no Daita who later became his retainer Kisanda (満間の大太 後ニ喜三太)

Title: The Secrets of Strategy: Chapter Three (San ryaku den dai san, 三略傳 第三)

Publisher: Iba-ya Kybei

Robinson: S65.3

Date: 1847-1850 (censors Mera and Murata)

 

Scene: Kawachi Kakutei (河内覚定) on the lookout in a pine tree with Kumasaka Chhan (熊坂入道長範) and his gang below

Title: The Secrets of Strategy: Chapter Four (San ryaku den dai yon, 三略傳 第四)

Publisher: Iba-ya Kybei

Robinson: S65.4

Date: 1847-1850 (censors Mera and Murata)

 

Another state of the above print published by Jsh-ya Jz (重上州屋 seal bottom center)

 

 

Scene: Ushiwakamaru (牛若丸) with drawn sword in his room at an inn with Kumasaka Chhan (熊坂長範) outside

Title: The Secrets of Strategy (San ryaku den, 三略伝)

Publisher: Iba-ya Kybei

Robinson: S65.5

Date: 1847-1848 (censors Hama and Kinugasa)

 

Scene: The beautiful 15-year-old Jruri-hime (浄瑠璃姫) helping Ushiwakamaru (牛若丸) wash his hands

Title: The Secrets of Strategy: Chapter Six (San ryaku den dai roku, 三略傳 第六)

Publisher: Jsh-ya Jz

Robinson: S65.6

Date: 1847-1850 (censors Mera and Murata)

 

This is another version of the above print, also published by Jsh-ya Jz. The background is much darker with the landscape in the background being shadowy rather than misty. The harsh synthetic inks indicate that this is a later printing.

 

Yet another state published by Iba-ya Kybei

 

Scene: Yokogawa no Kankai (横川の地海) attacking Ushiwakamaru (牛若丸) from behind

Title: The Secrets of Strategy (San ryaku den, 三略伝)

Publisher: Jsh-ya Jz

Robinson: S65.7

Date: 1847-1848 (censors Hama and Kinugasa)

 

Scene: Yoshitsune (牛若御曹司) displaying his horsemanship before Fujiwara no Hidehira (陸奥守秀衡) at the latters castle in Mutsu

Title: The Secrets of Strategy (San ryaku den, 三略伝)

Publisher: Jsh-ya Jz

Robinson: S65.8

Date: 1847-1848 (censors Hama and Kinugasa)

 

 

 

Scene: Ushiwakamaru (牛若丸) with an open fan and Benkei (弁慶) with a naginata fighting on Goj Bridge

Title: The Secrets of Strategy: Chapter Thirteen (San ryaku den jyu san, 三略傳 十三)

Publisher: Jsh-ya Jz

Robinson: S65.9

Date: 1847-1850 (censors Mera and Murata)

 

Another state of the above print.

 

Yet another state published by Iba-ya Kybei

 

Scene: Ushiwakamaru (牛若丸) and Musashib Benkei (武蔵坊弁慶) fighting with swords

Title: The Secrets of Strategy (San ryaku den, 三略伝)

Publisher: Iba-ya Kybei

Robinson: S65.10

Date: 1847-1848 (censors Hama and Kinugasa)

 

Scene: Yoshitsune (源義経) discovers Washio Sabur (鷲尾三郎) at Hiyodori-goye trussing up a wild boar before the Battle of Ichi-no-tani

Title: The Secrets of Strategy (San ryaku den, 三略伝)

Publisher: Jsh-ya Jz

Robinson: S65.11

Date: 1st month of 1853

 

Scene: Yoshitsune (源義経) with Musashib Benkei (武蔵坊弁慶) and other followers under the cherry-blossoms at Suma after the Battle of Ichi-no-tani

Title: The Secrets of Strategy (San ryaku den, 三略伝)

Publisher: Jsh-ya Jz

Robinson: S65.12

Date: 1st month of 1853

 

 

 

Scene: Minamoto no Yoshitsunes (九郎判官源義経) eight boat leap to escape from Notonokami Noritsune (能登守教経) at the Battle of Dan-no-ura

Title: The Secrets of Strategy (San ryaku den, 三略伝)

Publisher: Jsh-ya Jz

Robinson: S65.13

Date: 1st month of 1853

 

Scene: Minamoto no Yoshitsune (源義経) and Shidzuka-gozen (静御前) defending themselves against the night attack at Horikawa by Tosa-b Shshun (土佐坊昌俊)

Title: The Secrets of Strategy (San ryaku den, 三略伝)

Publisher: Jsh-ya Jz

Robinson: S65.14

Date: 2nd month of 1853

 

Scene: The ghosts of Taira warriorssome in the form of crabsattacking Yoshitsune ( 義経) and Musashib Benkei (武蔵坊弁慶) at Daimotsu Bay

Title: The Secrets of Strategy (San ryaku den, 三略伝)

Publisher: Jsh-ya Jz

Robinson: S65.15

Date: 1st month of 1853

 

 

 

Scene: Yoshitsune (源義経) leaps down upon the warrior-monk Yokogawa Kakuhan (覺範) at Yoshino

Title: The Secrets of Strategy (San ryaku den, 三略伝)

Publisher: Jsh-ya Jz

Robinson: S65.16

Date: 1st month of 1853

 

NOTE: Robinson describes this print as Sat Tadanobu, wearing Yoshitsunes armour, leaps down upon the warrior-monk Yokogawa Kakuhan at Yoshino.

 

Robinson refers to listing in Kuniyoshi: The Warrior-Prints by Basil William Robinson (Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY, 1982) and its privately published supplement.

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