Kuniyoshi 国芳: Station Takamiya, Kamiya Iemon 高宮

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Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861)
Title: Station Takamiya, Kamiya Iemon 高宮
Series: Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaidô Road  木曾街道六十九次之内
Date: 8/1852

In a scene that appears to us as a simple fisherman about to cast his line, Kuniyoshi’s audience know that this is actually the villain Iemon from kabuki’s most famous ghost story: A Tokaido Ghost Story at Yotsuya (Tokaido Yotusya kaidan). We are about to witness the climax of the play, where the two people that Iemon has murdered and nailed to a board that he threw into the Onbo canal rise up magically to hauntingly confront him for his evil deeds. Here we see floating in the river just a corner of the board and a piece of straw that probably covered the body of a victim. In the distance approaches another character from the play, perhaps, Sado Yomoshichi. The surname of Iemon was sometimes given as Kamiya and sometimes as Tamiya, which gives Kuniyoshi an opening for wordplay with the name of the station. In choosing to illustrate the moment just prior to climactic action we can see the skill of Kuniyoshi’s graphic storytelling. Surrounding the cartouche are fishing implements, which are also seen at Iemon’s feet as he prepares his fishing rod.

Condition: Excellent impression, color and condition. Binding holes left.
Dimensions: ôban (36 x 24.4 cm)
Publisher: Kobayashi Taijiro
Literature: See Sarah Thompson’s “The Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaidô”, figure 65, page 146. See British Museum and MFA Boston collections.
Seal: kiri
Signature: Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi ga