Kuniyoshi: Akashi: Yoshitsune Training in Martial Arts with the Tengu (Sold)

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Artist: Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861)
Title: Hana no en (Festival of Cherry Blossoms)
Series: Japanese and Chinese Comparisons for the Chapters of Genji (Wakan nazorae Genji)
Date: 1855

Minamoto no Yoshitsune is one of the most famous warriors in Japanese history, and a perennial favorite subject for Kuniyoshi. Here we see Yoshitsune training in swordmanship,  leaping away from the strikes of three tengu in the mysterious forest hideaway of the tengu king on Mount Kurama. These bird-tengu are famous for their skills in the martial arts, and here we see how adept their student has become. They are still making the downstroke with their practice sticks, and Yoshitsune has leapt high above them, light as air, grasping with one arm a tree trunk, his wooden practice stick pointing down with the other. As the setting of this training is in the deep forest, instead of bokken wooden swords for practice they employ humble branches that have been gathered nearby.  We see the tengu king at left, watching the training with interest, a seated retinue of tengu behind him. These karasu tengu have berdlike wings and beaks, but are dressed in human clothing. This is chapter Eight, titled Hana no en, or Festival of Cherry Blossoms. The connection to the Tale of Genji is so oblique as to be cryptic at this point.

Condition: Excellent impression. Very good color. Good condition. Right and bottom margins trimmed, and tiny areas of wormage at top right. Small hinging remnants, verso.
Dimensions: ôban (36.2 x 24.2 cm)
Publisher: Ise Yoshi
Literature: “Kuniyoshi: The Warrior Prints” by BW Robinson, series S88.8.
Signature: Ichiyûsai Kuniyoshi ga with his square seal of a paulownia