Kuniyoshi 国芳: Station Nagakubo; The Lovers Oshichi and Kichiza

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Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861)
Title:  長窪 Nagakubo: Oshichi and Kichiza
Series: Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaidô Road  木曾街道六十九次之内
Date: 9/1852

The young beauty Oshichi, dressed as if for a festival, holds the plaque that she donated to a temple and is inscribed with her age as she looks at her lover Kichiza who remains calmly seated. This very famous tragic love story was also illustrated by Yoshitoshi in a vertical diptych, where Oshichi is seen climbing down a ladder with fire burning in the background. Oshichi was a young girl who started a fire in an effort to meet her crush, a handsome young temple page. A semifictionalized version of the story was made into numerous kabuki plays over the years, and this design probably relates to one. The scene is strangely calm, in contrast to the usual depictions of the story that are quite dramatic–it is as if both characters have accepted their sealed fates as they exchange wise looks. It could also be that this scene is somehow set in a kabuki play prior to the fire-setting, and they are visiting the temple where Oschichi donates and inscribes a votive plaque.  Station number 28. 

Condition: Excellent impression and color. Very good condition. Minor binding holes right.
Dimensions: ôban (36 x 24.4 cm)
Publisher: Tsujiya Yasubei
Literature: See Sarah Thompson’s “The Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaidô”, figure 28, page 72. See MFA, British Museum.
Seal: kiri
Signature: Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi ga