Illustrated Abridged Biography of Ks

(Ks go-ichidai ryaku zu, 高祖御一代略図)

Publisher: Ise-ya Rihei



Nichiren, also known as Ks, was a Buddhist priest who lived from 1222 to 1282. He has had various miracles attributed to him and founded the Nichiren sect of Buddhism, of which Kuniyoshi was an adherent. The prints in this series are each about 10 by 14 inches (25 by 36 centimeters), a size known as ban.


Title: Nichiren converting the spirit of a cormorant fisherman on the Isawa River in Kai Province (Kai Isawagawa ugai bokon, 甲斐国石和川鵜飼亡魂化導)

Scene: Nichiren, seated on a rocky shore, is praying for the repose of the soul of a cormorant fisherman in a boat below

Robinson: S6.1

Schaap: 17.1

Title: Komatsu Moor in Tj on December second, 1264 (Bun'ei moto juichi gatsu juichi nichi toijo Komatsu-hara, 文永元十一月十一日東條小松原)

Scene: Nichiren using the power of his prayer beads to foil an attack by Tj no Sayemon Komatsubara in 1264

Robinson: S6.2

Schaap: 17.2

Title: The star of wisdom descends on the thirteenth night of the ninth month (Kugatsu jusan yoru i chiboshikou, 九月十三夜依智星降)

Scene: An apparition of Buddha appears to Nichiren in an old plum tree

Robinson: S6.3

Schaap: 17.3

Title: The prayer for rain on the promontory of Reisan in Kamakura in 1271 (Bunei hachi Kamakura Ryozen ga saki ame no inochi, 文永八鎌倉霊山ケ崎雨祈)

Scene: On a promontory over the ocean, an attendant is holding an umbrella over Nichiren after his prayer for rain was answered

Robinson: S6.4

Schaap: 17.4

This is from a set reproduced in the 1930s by Robert O. Muller from newly cut woodblocks. The text in the right margin has been removed.

Title: At Komuroyama on July 4, 1274 (Bunei juichi go gatsu nijuhachi nichi Komuroyama chushi ishi, 小村山法輪石)

Scene: Nichiren keeping a rock thrown at him suspended in the air

Robinson: S6.5

Schaap: 17.5

Another state of the above design

Title: Apparition of the seven-faced god at Minobu Mountain in September of 1277 (Kenji sannen kugatsu Minobuzan shichimen kami jigen, 健治三年九月見延山七面神示現)

Scene: While Nichiren was conducting services, a dragon in a dark cloud emerged from the body of a woman who had disturbed his devotions.

Robinson: S6.6

Schaap: 17.6


NOTE: Robinson translates the title of this print as Apparition of the seven-faced god at Minobu Mountain in October of 1277, but the print clearly reads September (九月).

Title: The defeat of Mongol army in 1281 as prophesied by Nichiren (Koan yonnen kojo rieki mo, 弘安四年上人利益蒙虎軍敗北)

Scene: Ships of the invading Mongolian army were battered by a severe storm, and the survivors were easily vanquished by the Japanese soldiers.

Robinson: S6.7

Schaap: 17.7

Another state of the above design

Yet another state

Title: At Execution Ground of Tatsunokuchi in Sagami Province (相州竜の口)

Scene: Nichirens life is miraculously saved when rays emanating from the sun shatter the sword of his would be executioner.

Robinson: S6.8

Schaap: 17.8

Title: On the waves at Kakuda on the way to Sado (Sashu ryukei Kakuda nami o me, 佐州流刑角田波)

Scene: Nichiren calming a rough sea with a prayer on his way to exile in Sado

Robinson: S6.9

Schaap: 17.9


NOTE: The Lotus Sutra (namu myh renge ky) can be seen in black script on the surface of the water.

This is another edition of the above print.

Title: Tsukahara in Sado Province in the Snow (Sashu Tsukahara setchu, 佐州塚原雪中)

Scene: Nichiren traveling in the snow at Tsukahara on Sado Island where he was exiled

Robinson: S6.10

Schaap: 17.10

This is the second state of the above design, which is one of Kuniyoshis most famous. It lacks the horizontal line that demarcates the horizon in the first state (above).

This is yet another state that lacks the subtle shading (bokashi) seen in the previous image.

This reproduction was published by Watanabe with recarved woodblocks. Watanabes seal (ワタナベ) is in the left lower corner:


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


Schaap refers to listing in Heroes and Ghosts: Japanese Prints by Kuniyoshi by Robert Schaap (Hotei Publishing, Leiden, 1998).