New Versions of Figures on the Stage: Actor Ichikawa Sadanji III as Azuma no Yoshiro
(Shinpan butai no sugata-e: Ichikawa Sadanji, Azuma no Yoshiro)
with mica background, signed Shunsen with artist's seal Shunsen, published by Watanabe Shozaburo, ca. 1954
dai oban tate-e 15 3/4 by 10 5/8 in., 40 by 27 cm
The actor Ichikawa Sadanji III (1898-1969) is in the role of Azuma no Yoshiro from the play Modori kago iro ni aikata (A Harlot's Love in a Returning Palanquin). This gender-bending performance depicts Yoshiro and his companion Jirosaku, two strangers who meet traveling on the road. The sight of a beautiful woman on the road makes them excited, and prompts a playful adventure in which they sneak into brothels and pleasure houses disguised in different costumes. Over the course of the play, they dress as high born, servants, prostitutes, and courtesans, each time engaging in witty dialogue. However, at the end of the play, it is revealed that their purported identities are disguises as well. Yoshiro is in fact the noble General Mashiba Hisayoshi, and Jirosaku the notorious bandit Ishikawa Goemon. The two, who had not recognized each other throughout the entire play, are in reality sworn enemies. Once they realize their mutual mistake, the two engage in an inconclusive battle, swearing to fight another day.
Yamaguchi Keizoro, Shunsen Natori Exhibition Catalogue, Kushigata, 1991, no. 73
Kozo Yamada, Shunsen Natori: Collection of the Kushigata Shunsen Museum of Art, 2002, p. 49, cat. no. 60
Andreas Marks, Seven Masters: Twentieth Century Japanese Woodblock Prints from the Wells Collection, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2015, p. 86, fig. 6
Minneapolis Institute of Art (collections.artsmia.org), accession no. 2007.107.5
Scholten Japanese Art is open Monday - Friday, and some Saturdays by appointment only
Contact Katherine Martin at
(212) 585-0474 or email
to schedule a visit between 11am and 4pm preferably for no more than two individuals at a time.
Visitors are asked to wear face masks and practice social distancing at their discretion.
site last updated
October 3, 2022
Scholten Japanese Art
145 West 58th Street, suite 6D
New York, New York 10019
ph: (212) 585-0474
fx: (212) 585-0475
Join our mailing list...