Mirror of the Quartets of Retainers of Famous Generals

(Meishô shi-ten kagami, 名將四天鑑)

Publisher: Jôshû-ya Kinzô

1861 from designs c. 1848


This series was published shortly after Kuniyoshi’s death on April 14, 1861.  Robinson lists only these three designs in this series, and it is unlikely that any more exist.  The prints are each about 14 by 10 inches (36 by 25 centimeters), a size known as ôban.


Description: Minamoto no Yorimitsu (源頼光朝臣, also known as Raikô) Ason with his four retainers all seated in court robes and caps.  Clockwise from the top: Usui Sadamitsu, Urabe Suyetake, Watanabe no Tsuna and Sakata no Kintoki

Robinson: S94.1


Description: Minamoto no Yoshinaka Ason (源義仲朝臣) with his four retainers all wearing armor.  Clockwise from the top: Imai Shirô Kanehira, Tate Rokurô Chikatada, Higuchi Jirô Kanemitsu (with a large axe) and Nenoi Daiyata Yukichika

Robinson: S94.2

Another version of the above print.  It is a less labor-intensive printing than the above, which almost invariably means a later edition.  In this print, the delicate shading (bokashi) in the title cartouche (left upper corner) was replaced with a solid color.  Bokashi was achieved by hand applying a gradation of ink to the wooden printing block rather than inking the block uniformly.  This hand-application had to be repeated for each sheet of paper that was printed.


Description: Nitta Yoshisada Ason (新田義貞朝臣) with his four retainers all wearing armor.  Clockwise from the top: Kuriu Sayemon Norihisa, Watari Shinzayemon Yasumasa, Shinodzuka Iga no Kami Sadatsuna and Hata Rokurozayemon Tokiyoshi

Robinson: S94.3


A later state of the above print.

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