Omori Hikoshichi Encountering a Demon

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1839-1892

New Forms of Thirty-Six Ghosts: Picture of Omori Hikoshichi Encountering a Demon
(Shingata sanjurokkaisen: Omori Hikoshichi michi ni kaii au zu)

signed Yoshitoshi, with artist's seal Taiso, carver's seal Hori Yu, and publisher's date seal Meiji nijuninen, gogatsu, juka; Sasaki Toyokichi (Meiji 22 [1889], May 10) of Sasaki Toyokichi

oban tate-e 14 5/8 by 10 in., 37.2 by 25.4 cm

Though it seems that Omori Hikoshichi bears a beauty upon his back, the horns in her reflection reveal her true, demonic nature. A version of the tale holds that Omori, an officer in the service of Ashikaga Takauji (1305-1358) during their victory over Kusunoki Masashige (1294-1336) at the 1336 Battle of Minatogawa, came across this beautiful woman and offered to carry her across the river. Upon seeing her reflection, he killed the demon just as she was preparing to do the same to him.

Another version tells that, after his victory, Takauji arranged for a Noh play to be performed. A girl carrying a mask of hannya (representing a jealous female) arrived to the campsite and stirred up quite a bit of trouble before Omori, recognizing her to be the daughter of Masahige, vouched on her behalf and offered to take her to the performance. She attacked him as he carried her across a small stream, but Omori was prepared for her attack and easily disarmed the girl. As she explained that she wanted to kill Omori to avenge her father's death, the warrior took pity on her and told her how her father committed seppuku and thus died with dignity. He gave her father's dagger and sent her on her way. The story would later be adapted to Noh and kabuki theater, and was depicted by Yoshitoshi in a diptych for his 1886 series New Selection of Eastern Brocade Pictures.

References:
Keyes 1983, p. 488, no. 509.5
Stevenson 1983, p. 26, no. 4
Segi 1985, p. 78, no. 43
van den Ing & Schaap 1992, p. 141, no. 65.5
Stevenson 2005, p. 90, no. 4

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