Forty-seven Wooden Statues

(Shijûshichi mokuzô, 四十七木像)

Publisher: Jôshû-ya Juzô



In 1702, Lord Asano of Akô was provoked by Kira Kozukenosuke Yoshinaka into drawing his sword in the shogun’s palace, for which he was forced to take his own life, and his estate was confiscated.  Forty-seven of Lord Asano’s retainers, who were now rônin (samurai without masters), planned and carried out a successful attack on Kira’s palace.  Kira’s head was cut off with the same dagger Lord Asano used to commit seppuku.  (The term “hara-kiri”, although more common in English than “seppuku”, is considered in Japan to be a vulgar and disrespectful description of an honorable act.).  These events were made into the play, Kanadehon Chûshingura.  The images in this series represent the characters in the story, with some of the names altered.  This series is not listed in Kuniyoshi by Basil William Robinson (Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1961).  Each print in this series is about 10 by 7 inches (25 by 18 centimeters), a size known as chûban.



Rônin: Okajima Yasoemon Tsuneshige (苧岡 博五右エ門 高居)


Rônin: Ôboshi Yuranosuke Yoshio (大星由良之肋良雄)





Rônin: Muramatsu Sandayu Takanao (浦松三大夫 高直)


Rônin: Ushioda Matanojô Takanori (潮田政之丞高教)


This print is from a large series by Yoshitora that was published about the same time as Kuniyoshi’s series.  It is signed Ichimôsai Yoshitora ga (一猛斎  芳虎 ).  The series is titled The Forty-seven Loyal Retainers (Gishi yonju shichinin no uchi, 義士四拾七人之内).  The image to the left shows the rônin Mase Chudayu Masaaki (間瀬忠太夫正明像).