Ippitsusai Buncho, (fl. ca. 1755-90)
Bando Matataro IV as Soga no Juro
depicting Sogo no Juro with plover pattern on his robe; from the play Shuen Soga Omugaeshi performed at the Ichimura Theatre 1/1768; signed Ippitsusai Buncho ga, with publisher's mark of Enomotoya Kichibei, and with collector's seal of Wakai Kenzaburo at upper right, ca. 1768
hosoban 12 1/2 by 5 7/8 in., 31.8 by 15 cm
Ippitsusai Buncho, (fl. ca. 1755-90) print
Otani Hiroji III as III as Kudo Suketsune
the actor identified by the shimazumon, holding katana and fan; from the play Shuen Soga Omugaeshi performed at the Ichimura theatre 1/1768; signed Ippitsusai Buncho ga, with collector's seal of Wakai Kenzaburo, ca. 1768
hosoban 12 3/4 by 5 5/8 in., 32.5 by 14.2 cm
The Soga Monogatari ('Tales of the Soga') is based on historical events which took place in the late 12th century. In 1172, Kudo Saemon Suketsune arranged the murder of his cousin, Kozu Saburo Sukemichi, in order to clear the way for an inheritance. Eighteen years later in 1193, Sukemichi's two sons, Juro Sukenari (1172-93) and Goro Tokimune (1174-93) carried out a daring night attack on Suketsune while he was with a hunting party lead by the Shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo (1147-99) which was camped near Mt. Fuji. Although the brothers succeeded in their vendetta, the older brother, Juro, was killed and the younger brother Goro, was captured. Although Yoritomo admired the loyalty of the two brothers, he was forced to execute Goro to appease Suketsune's son.
The story of the brave young men was celebrated and expanded in literature, drama and art. By the Edo Period it was one of the most popular kabuki themes; it was so reliable by the late 18th century all three major kabuki theaters in Edo would stage a version of the Soga Monogatari simultaneously for the New Year performance. Although individual productions would vary somewhat, the basic storyline and the iconography of the major characters was established: Soga no Goro was usually identified by a butterfly pattern on his robes; Soga no Juro by chidori (plovers); and the villian, Kudo Suketsune, was identified by his iori-mokko mon ('bird's nest in a hut' crest).
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site last updated
March 27, 2020
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