• Arashi Rikan II [嵐璃寛] as Heitarō in the play <i>Sōma Tarō hyōbundan</i> [相馬太郎...]
Arashi Rikan II [嵐璃寛] as Heitarō in the play <i>Sōma Tarō hyōbundan</i> [相馬太郎...]
Arashi Rikan II [嵐璃寛] as Heitarō in the play <i>Sōma Tarō hyōbundan</i> [相馬太郎...]

Ryūsai Shigeharu (柳斎重春) (artist 1802 – 1852)

Arashi Rikan II [嵐璃寛] as Heitarō in the play Sōma Tarō hyōbundan [相馬太郎...]


9.75 in x 14.5 in (Overall dimensions) Japanese color woodblock print
Signed: Ryūsai Shigeharu ga
Artists seal: Ryūsai
Lyon Collection - the entire diptych from a different printing
Waseda University - right panel only
Princeton University Art Museum - whole diptych
Waseda University - left panel only Click on the link above to the full diptych of this print which can also be found in the Lyon Collection. Note particularly the difference in the colors of the robes of Heitarō, especially the deep blue as it is seen here. This example may well be from a more expensive, deluxe edition because of what we believe is the liberal use of Prussian blue in this figures outfit.


This print commemorates a performance at the Naka Theater in Osaka in the eleventh month of 1832.

Right panel of a diptych.

Soma Tarō hyobundan (The story of Tarō, heir to the Soma clan) was an adaptation of the tale of Masakado. The story combines elements of history and legend set In the tenth century when the ambitious Taira Masakado (Soma no Kojirō, died 940), a general formerly with the regent Fujiwara Takahira, moved to take control of the eight eastern provinces and declare himself emperor. Takahira's warriors defeated Masakado and later his son Soma Tarō when he attempted to avenge his father's death.

Theatrical dramatizations featuring Masakado typically feature supernatural happenings and transformations. Masakado could create ghostly clones of himself, and his castle ln Soma (near Sendai) was said to be haunted by the spirits of his retainers. Both Soma Tarō and his sister Takiyashi-hime - the subject of the better known play Shinobi yoru koi wa kusemono (Appearing Concealed in the Guise of Love) premiering four years after Shigeharu's print was published - were also capable of sorcery. Takiyashi-hime takes the form of another human (a courtesan) and then, most famously, transfigures herself into a giant toad.

The figures are set within a Shijō-style landscape that, for single-sheet kamigata-e, comprises an unusually large percentage of the total composition. Heitarō is shown looking down upon Takiyashi and Yasukata as he leans against a most curiously shaped boulder -- one that emblemlzes the socerer's [sic] ability to take the form of a giant toad.

[Most of this information is taken directly or adapted from material posted by Osakaprints.com.]

The impression in Waseda University (Tsubouchi Memorial Theater Museum collection) has the hand-stamped seal of the brilliant block cutter Kasuke, Identified as the surlmono hangishi (surlmono woodblock master), confirming that the design was prepared with the greatest skill possible during this period of Osaka prlntmaking.


Illustrated in color in Osaka Prints by Dean J. Schwab, Rizzoli, 1989, page 157, #153. Schwaab wrote: "This is Shigeham's [sic - it should read 'Shigeharu's'] Shijō-style landscape masterpiece. The rock against which the Shōgun leans is in the form of a frog, suggesting magic."
Arashi Rikan II (二代目嵐璃寛: 9/1828 - 6/1837) (actor)
Kyōto-Osaka prints (kamigata-e - 上方絵) (genre)
actor prints (yakusha-e - 役者絵) (genre)
Taira Masakado (平將門) (role)