Toyohara Kunichika (豊原国周) (artist 1835 – 1900)
The Typhoon at Daimotsu Bay in Settsu Province in 1188 (Bunji yonen Sesshū Daimotsu no ura nanpū no zu- 文治四年摂州大物浦難風の図)
9.75 in x 14.25 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese color woodblock print
Signed: Kunichika ga (国周画)
Publisher Ōmiya Kyūjirō (Marks 415 - seal 30-034)
Combined censor and date seal: aratame and 4/1860
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Amagasaki Municipal Archives
Google map - Osaka Bay - Daimotsu is right off of Amagasaki
The Náprstek Museum
National Museum of Asian Art Magnificent early triptych of the Taira ghosts attacking Yoshitsune's ship in a storm.
Daimotsu Bay is in the northeast part of Osaka Bay right off the area of Amagasaki. To see this location click on the Google map link above.
The main figure, the fierce fellow in the billowing red robe, is Musashibō Benkei (武蔵坊弁慶) as seen in the large blue cartouche. The yellow cartouche nearest him is that of the General Taira no Sukemori (ca. 1165-85: 三位中将資盛), a ghoulish ghostly figure trying to clamor onboard. He was Kiyomori's grandson, Shigemori's second son, who died at the Battle of Dannoura.
The ghost warrior at the bottom of the left panel, nearest the prow of the ship, is the general, Taira no Yukimori (平行盛). His title of Director of the Stables of the Left (Samanokami - 左馬頭) appear before his name. The one on the bottom left of the center panel is Rokurō Chikanori (鞆六郎親度?).
Scholten Japanese Art wrote of this triptych:
"After defeating the Taira clan at the Battle of Dannoura, Minamoto no Yoshitsune (1159-1189) and his retainers were betrayed by his brother, Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147-1199). Yoritomo, who had taken control of Japan following their victory, distrusted Yoshitsune's loyalty. Yoshitsune's host fled Kyoto by boat, passing through Daimotsu bay. Historically, the group was attacked by a group of Yoritomo's retainers. However, legend and subsequent noh and kabuki plays including Funa Benkei (Benkei in the Boat) have reimagined the battle of Daimotsu as a supernatural affair. Instead of battling Yoritomo's retainers, Yoshitsune's enemies were the ghosts of the defeated Taira host. Amidst a great storm, wave upon wave of ghosts beseiged the boat. Eventually, when all seemed lost, the warrior-priest Benkei (1155-1189) moved to the bow of the ship, prayer beads in hand, and chanted magic spells to disperse the ghosts and tame the waters. They withstood the force in a Phyrrhic victory, as too many men were lost to consider war against Yoritomo and Yoshitsune was forced to remain on the lam.
In this composition, Yoshitsune stands in the right sheet, grasping at the hilt of his sword, while Benkei stands at the ship's prow in the center sheet."
Hanging from the side of the boat is a small white curtain with the black motif of the sasarindō, a Minamoto clan crest. A careful examination of the right-hand panel and you will find this motif again on both clothing and on the draped curtain behind the desperate fighting men.
"The personal, rather than clan mon of Minamoto no Yoritomo was the sasarindō, a design in which three flowers of rindō (the Japanese gentian, Gentiana scabra or G. makinoi) sit above three leaves of the shrubby bamboo Sasa. The gentian was characteristic of the damp grassland flora of Southern Japan, while the bamboo was a signature plant of the North. This elegant posy is iconographic code for the shogun: the North is subjugated by the South; the country united under his military authority."
Quoted from: The Lotus Quest: In Search of the Sacred Flower by Mark Griffiths, p. 245.
1) in Ukiyo-e from The Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, MA, 1994, #131, pages 72-73.
2) in color in Japanese Yōkai and Other Supernatural Beings: Authentic Paintings and Prints of 100 Ghosts, Demons, Monsters and Magicians by Andreas Marks, Tuttle Publishing, 2023, p. 228. This exact triptych is the one illustrated in this volume.
[We shall identify more of the figures of this triptych in time.]
Ōmiya Kyūjirō (近江屋久次郎) (publisher)
Yūrei-zu (幽霊図 - ghosts demons monsters and spirits) (genre)
warrior prints (musha-e - 武者絵) (genre)
Musashibō Benkei (武蔵坊弁慶) (role)
Minamoto no Yoshitsune (源義経) (role)