Torii Kiyonaga, 1752-1815
Scene from the Kabuki Play Yukimotsutake Furisode Genji, 1785
Color woodblock print (nishiki-e)
Bequest of Richard P. Gale 74.1.128
Cat. no. 80

This scene is from a Kabuki play based on the historic rivalry between the Taira and Minamoto clans. In 1159, Minamoto no Yoshitomo attempted to overthrow Emperor Nijō, whose regime was bolstered by the warrior Taira no Kiyomori. The coup d’état failed but led to a full-scale war.

The play is set in the aftermath of the attempted coup. In the scene illustrated here, four key characters unexpectedly meet in Kyoto’s Gion district. Hatchōtsubute no Kiheiji, a Minamoto warrior who switched his allegiance to the Taira clan, has been living covertly as a monk who fills temple lamps with oil. Played here by Nakamura Kojñrø VI, he is shown holding an oil pot. Minamoto no Yoshihira (son of the coup’s leader, Yoshitomo), played by Ichikawa Yaozø III, has also been living undercover, waiting for an opportunity to again attack the Taira. Here, Yoshihira has recognized the traitor and begins to draw his sword, a magical weapon known as Raiden-maru (Lightning) because its unsheathing causes a thunderclap