Thirty-six Famous Battles

(Meiyo sanjûrokkassen, 名誉三十六合戦)

Publisher: Ise-ya Ichibei

c. 1848


Robinson described eleven prints in this series, and, in spite of the title, there probably are not anymore.  Each print is about 14 by 10 inches (36 by 25 centimeters), a size known as ôban.


Scene: Fujiwara no Tadabumi, insulted and struck on the head, leaving the palace amidst falling cherry blossoms

Robinson: S61.1


Scene: Genji Tsuna (源二綱) in traveling dress is impressed by the strength of the child Usui no Sadamitsu who is dragging a heavy piece of iron used by his father in the manufacture of barrels

Robinson: S61.2


Scene: Kumawaka Maru (熊若丸)  encounters his father’s murderer, Homma Saburô, in a downpour of rain, a stream of which falls on his hat

Robinson: S61.3


This is another state of the above print.



Scene: Kusunoki Masanori and a retainer charging, the latter with a branch of bamboo from which severed heads are suspended

Robinson: S61.4


The original publisher, Ise-ya Ichibei, sold the woodblocks to another publisher, Hayashi-ya Shôgorô, who printed a second edition.  Hayashi-ya Shôgorô’s seal has replaced Ise-ya Ichibei’s seal in the left lower corner.


Scene: Heishinnô Masakado with outstretched fan on a dais berating his brother Rokurô Kintsura, whose cap has been struck off by Sadayo

Robinson: S61.5

This is a key block print of the above design.  It is an impression pulled from the first woodblock made by a carver from the artist’s original drawing.  The artist would write instructions for each color on a separate key block print, and the woodblock for each color was cut using one of these as a guide.  Registration marks (kento) are characteristically found on Japanese key block prints, although missing from this example.  Kento are cut in each woodblock, so that the paper can be properly aligned on each woodblock during printing.  A kento in the shape of a reversed “L” is visible in this print’s right lower corner.  In addition to being a guide for carving the color woodblocks, the key block was also used to apply black ink (usually) in the printing process.


Scene: Miyamoto Musashi on the banks of the Isagawa in Kawachi Province meets a remarkable man who shows him a magnifying glass

Robinson: S61.6


Scene: Odai Matarokurô (Yorisada) breaking water storage jar during his war with Takeda Shingen

Robinson: S61.7


Scene: Unruly conduct of Oniwaka Maru (鬼若丸) at Hieizan, where he fought and bullied the other children

Robinson: S61.8


This is another example of the second edition of this series published by Hayashi-ya Shôgorô.  Note Hayashi-ya Shôgorô’s seal in the left lower corner and the clumsy removal of Ise-ya Ichibei’s seal from the right lower corner.


Scene: Soga Jurô Sukenari at Yoshimori’s feast being poured a very large cup of sake by Furugori Shinzaemon

Robinson: S61.9


Scene: Sôma Kotarô Yoshikado, the son of Masakado, encounters Iga Jutarô and his gang on the Fukumi Bridge

Robinson: S61.10


This is another example of the second edition of this series published by Hayashi-ya Shôgorô, whose seal appears in the left lower corner.


Scene: Takagawa Katsumasa, after defeating the Hôjô at the Battle of Shinagawa performing the monkey dance in a drunken celebration

Robinson: S61.11


NOTE: This is a key block 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.